As if it were not enough that Montreux is the synonym of discreet and refined luxury, it also has an amazing castle you easily reach after a relaxed walk on the Swiss Riviera: Château de Chillon.
Simply, Montreux fascinates me. Its position, on the shores of Lake Geneva, the Riviera that abounds with flowers, color and greenery, the cosmopolitan air of the city and the absolute elegance at every step are just a few of the advantages. Imagine how I reacted when discovered the castle, after a long walk by the lake.
The medieval fortress on the shores of Lake Geneva, near Montreux, is the most visited monument of Switzerland and gathers over 1.000 years of history. The rocky island on which the castle is built, was both a natural protection and a strategic location to control the passage between northern and southern Europe.
The history of the castle was influenced by three major periods. The first written mention of the castle appears in 1150. At that time, the Counts of Savoy controlled the fort, as well as the path between the lake and the mountains. From the 13th century onwards, the castle was extended, and under Pierre II of Savoy, it became the summer residence of the Counts.
The Swiss, or more precisely, the Bernese, conquered the Pays de Vaud. The conquest was completed once the Bernese took-over the Chillon Castle in 1536. For more than 260 years, the castle retained its role as a fortress, arsenal and prison.
In 1798, at the time of the Vaudois Revolution, the Bernese left the castle, which became the property of the Canton of Vaud upon its foundation in 1803. The medieval fortress attracted the Romantics. During his visit in 1816, Lord Byron, the British poet, found inspiration in the story of Chillon inmate François Bonivard to write his poem The Prisoner of Chillon, which made the castle famous. Many other artists were fascinated by Chillon and the landscape over which it towers.
As for me, the castle was a welcome and amazing retreat on a hot day of end August, which I spent in the coolness of its thick and cold walls, looking through the medieval windows to the unreal turquoise of the lake and walking through its inner courtyard, on polished stones for centuries. It’s a great escape in history, exciting and at the same time soothing and extremely relaxing.
My favorite moment?
To sit in the castle, on a rock slab, near a window dug in the rock and look at the lake and the Alpine ridges that surround it. The view is breathtaking.
Photo credits: personal archive Ruxandra Chiurtu, @portuguesesnasuica, Chateau Chillon, Lise Leyvraz Dorier, Pierre Fasseaux, Ursi Vetter.