Castles are pretty common in Switzerland, and almost every city or village has at least one castle. In the past time when Switzerland did not exist, plenty of wars and battles took place on these grounds. Even though these castles are a couple of centuries old, they still stand strong, even though their primary purpose has been lost a long time ago. You can spend a whole month touring all of the Swiss’ castles but even then, you can not be certain you haven’t missed a few.
Swiss castles in villages also play a cultural role and host many events, so check the tourist info if you want to know if there is an event taking place in the nearby castle. The following five castles are great tourist destinations in Switzerland that will teach you more about the Swiss history and culture.
1. Chillon Castle ( Chàteau de Chillon)
This wonderful castle tops all the rest by the number of visitors each year. It was at first just a Roman outpost on an island in Lake Geneva; after a while, it grew into a castle you can see today. During the Savoy period, it was used by the Counts of Savoy as a residence and a prison. In the 16th century, the Count of Savoy had imprisoned Francois de Bonivard, who was at that time a monk and a politician. He was chained for six years, and the dungeon’s floor can prove it as the rut from his feet and chain still remains visible. His rescue came when the Bernese overtook the castle. The Bernese resided in it until it was transformed into a state prison. A bit later French troops from Vaud occupied the castles territory and used it as an armory. But enough about the history. This castle lies on the eastern Lake Geneva’s shore. It has four courtyards, three great halls and different bedrooms that are opened to the public. Chillon castle opens its door to visitors every day except on the first of January and on Christmas. Check the opening hours on the official Chillon Castle’s website.
2. Oberhofen Castle
If you are visiting Interlaken it would be a shame to miss this castle. Different architectural styles decorate Oberhofen castle as it was owned by a few royal dynasties, and each one left a little bit of their style, making sure they would be remembered. Exhibits in Oberhofen castle show the living conditions of the royalty that had lived here and you will catch a glimpse of a genuine Turkish smoking room. Behind the Oberhofen castle, there is a huge park which is a perfect place to take amazing photos.
The castle’s park is full of colorful flower arrangement and the Alpine scenery is breathtaking, for these reasons a lot of recently married couples come to take their pictures here. Make sure to check the opening hours on Oberhofen castle’s website so you can plan your visit, and leave some time to enjoy the beautiful sights and lakes of Interlaken.
3. Rapperswil Castle
Built by Count Rudolf von Rapperswil and his son in the 13th century, this castle had endured numerous war and in the 19th century, it was leased to count Wladislaw Bicoel- Peter, who restored it to his original state and founded the Polish National Museum. Although the whole castle is not opened to the public, you can still visit the museum and learn a lot about the Polish culture, as well as see some of the items and rooms in the castle and see a beautiful rose garden this castle is known for. Recently the herbal garden and the tower were opened to the public. The castle’s terrace has an amazing view over the lake Zurich and the old town of Rapperswil. Official website
4. The Castle of Montebello
The highest of three castles that were built to protect Bellinzona against the attackers. It is located on top of the hill and grants its visitors a magnificent view of the Ticino area. Lacking the natural defenses, this castle’s walls are thicker and sturdier than the other two Bellinzona’s castles. Looking at it you can imagine how these magnificent walls held up against the invaders. Nowadays it is a home to Archaeological and Civic museum so you can expect to see and learn more about the historical items and settlements that were once here. If you decide to visit this castle make sure to stop by the other two castles below it. Opening hours and entry fees
5. Aigle Castle
This castle lies in the municipality of Aigle, canton Vaud. When compared to the other castles it looks really innocent. Most of the castle’s parts including walkways and towers are opened to the public. You do not want to miss exploring this castle and the kids will also love it, the towers provide a romantic view of the vineyards which surround this peaceful castle. If you were wondering why there are vineyards around this castle, you will find the answer inside. Aigle castle hosts the wine museum. Inside you can learn how a succulent grape gets turned into wine, and the fun part is that you can digitally blend your own wine. Other exhibits show different tools for wine production as well as artistic wine glasses and bottles.
Updated: September 6, 2017