The history of Chateau Chillon was influenced by three major periods:
The Savoy Era (12th century to 1526) By this time, the Savoy family already controlled the fortress area and the path along the lake shore. The castle as it appears today was built for the Dukes of Savoy in the 13th century and the Savoy kept a fleet of ships at their disposal on Lake Geneva.
The chateau was also used as a prison. Its most famous prisoner was Francois de Bonivard, a monk and politician who was Prior of St. Victor in Geneva. He was imprisoned at the castle in 1530 for defending his homeland from the Dukes of Savoy. Six years later in 1536, he was rescued by his countrymen and the Bernese, who took the castle by force.
The Bernese Era (1536 – 1798) The Bernese conquered the region and occupied Chillon Castle which was used for the next 260 years as a fortress, arsenal and prison.
The Vaudois Era (1798 through the present) The Bernese left Chateau de Chillon at the time of the Vaud Revolution. The French-speaking canton of Vaud drove out the German-speaking Bernese and invited in French troops to help them maintain authority. The State of Vaud became the owner of the castle when the state was created in 1803.
Restoration on the castle began at the end of the 19th century and today the rooms are remarkably preserved and fascinating to tour.
The Postern Gate would have conveniently allowed the castle’s occupants to unload goods or even escape via the lake when the castle was under attack.
In order to protect the tower, the door of the keep is located high off the ground and could only be reached by ladder or drawbridge (now by stairs). Interior stairs were also added in the 20th century to access the upper floors of the keep where you have a 360 degree view of Lake Geneva, the town of Montreux and the Chillon Vineyards.
Ceremonial, Banqueting and Dining Halls:
The Constable's Dining Hall The wall decor and paintings in this hall are reproductions of models dating from the end of the 13th century. The oak columns are originals from the 13th century and the coffered ceiling and chimney date from the 15th century.
Aula Nova: The Ceremonial Room for the Constable. The barrel vaulted ceiling was restored 1925-1926
Aula Magna: In the Middle Ages, the Savoys used this room as a reception, banquet or feasting hall. It was also in this hall that they received their vassals and dispensed justice.
A spiral staircase built around 1336 allowed the lord of castle to climb up to the ramparts and down to his private chapel.
The Withdrawing or Dressing Room has a corner chimney and murals which date to the 13th century. It houses a very interesting example of bathing facilities from the period.
The Latrines (Privies) date from the 13th century and the double openings indicate a collective use of the privies. Very strange to our modern sensibilities! As you can see from looking down the opening, waste would fall outside the walls of the castle and on down the steep rocky hillside.
The sentries’ gallery and ramparts have extensive views out of the castle and arrow holes for defense. You can walk large parts of these ramparts, but in today's world, the only advances made upon the castle are by tourist ferries!
Information for this post provided by Fondation Du Chateau de Chillon Pamphlet.