Chateau de Chillon
The Castle of Chillon, one of the most picturesque and interesting monuments in Switzerland, owes its world-wide fame primarily to Lord Byron’s poem The Prisoner of Chillon. Francois Bonivard, a Genevois monk and the subject of the poem, was born ca. 1493 and died in 1570/71. In 1530, he was taken prisoner by the powerful Duke of Savoy. He was held prisoner, the last 4 years in chains, in the dungeon of Chillon. He was liberated when the Bermese captured the castle in 1536.
Lord Byron wrote the narrative poem in 1816, almost 300 years after Bonivard was held captive, after sailing on Lake Geneva with his friend Percy Bysshe Shelley and stopping to visit the Chateau de Chillon. Byron was inspired by Bonivard’s story and wrote The Sonnet of Chillon, later composing the longer fable.
Our visit to Chillon was an easy ride on the free bus from our hotel in Montreux. We spent several hours touring the castle and were very impressed by the well-preserved dungeons, and towers. Although Chillon occupies a small rock islet in beautiful Lake Geneva, and it was a bright sunny afternoon, we felt a definite chill when touring the dungeons, sight of so many human atrocities.