Chillon Castle is an island castle located on Lake Geneva. It is situated at the eastern end of the lake, on the narrow shore between Montreux and Villeneuve, which gives access to the Alpine valley of the Rhone. Chillon is amongst the most visited castles in Switzerland and Europe.

Chillon began as a Roman outpost, guarding the strategic road through the Alpine passes. The later history of Chillon was influenced by three major periods: the Savoy Period, the Bernese Period, and the Vaudois Period.

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. Little by little, the Chillon Castle started to be neglected as the court of Savoy favored other castles.

The Swiss, or more precisely, the Bernese, conquered the Pays de Vaud as well as Chillon castle in 1536. Under the Counts of Savoy, the castle was divided into two parts, one for the castellan bailiff, and the other for the Counts, when they resided at Chillon. This division was no longer useful, and the Bernese took possession of all the space in the castle. Concerning the defensive aspects, the fortress was adapted to the then new firearms. In 1733, the bailiffs left the castle, which had become isolated and uncomfortable, and moved on to a more modern residence in Vevey.

The patriots of Vevey and Montreux occupied the fortress in January 1798. The castle became national property during the Vaudois Revolution, and belongs since then to the Canton of Vaud, from the date of its foundation in 1803. This old building was first used to stock weapons and ammunitions, and as a State prison. 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.

Today, Chillon is currently open to the public for visits and tours. Inside the castle there are several recreations of the interiors of some of the main rooms including the grand bedroom, hall, and cave stores. Inside the castle itself there are four great halls, three courtyards, and a series of bedrooms open to the public. One of the oldest is the Camera domini, which was a room occupied by the Duke of Savoy - it is decorated with 14th Century medieval murals.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Switzerland

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.