The Château de Chillon was made popular by Lord Byron’s poem The Prisoner of Chillon. Chillon is a Medieval island castle located on the Eastern end of Lake Geneva. The castle is regarded “Switzerland’s most visited historic monument”. Today, visitors can explore four great halls, the courtyards and even some bedrooms.
The first written record of the castle is from the year 1005, but the date of when its construction was begun remains unclear. What we do know is that it was first built to guard the road through the Alpine passes and later on was given many other uses.
By the middle of the 12th century, the castle became the summer home to the Savoy counts and the castle was expanded during this time by Peter II.
Later on, during the Wars of Religion in the 16th century, it was given a new purpose: it became a prison. In fact, Lord Byron wrote a poem about Francois de Bonivard, one of the most famous prisoners. Bonivard was a monk and politician who was imprisoned in the castle for defending his homeland from the Savoy dukes. Bonivard was rescued six years after his imprisonment by his countrymen and Bernese. In the dungeons, you will find Lord Byron’s name carved on the wall by the writer himself. Afterwards, the castle became the home of Bernese until it was turned into a state prison.
In 1798, Bernsese authorities were taken out of the castle by the canton of Vaud, who turned it into a munitions and weapons depot.