Chillon Castle is the most visited historic monuments of Switzerland. It is located close to Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva.
The first written record of this castle dates back to the 12th century. It belonged to the Counts of Savoy until the 16th century. During this time, the castle controlled ships on Lake Geneva and the important land route to the St. Bernhard Pass to Italy. In the 16th century Bern conquered the castle. The castle consists today of 25 buildings and three courtyards protected by two circular walls. The castle was made famous by Lord Byron with his poem The Prisoner of Chillon about François de Bonivard.
During the weekends of December before Christmas, the castle organizes the Medieval Market & Storytelling Festival. Craftsmen and women, minstrels and troubadours, archery demonstrations and medieval guards give life to the courtyards and rooms of the castle and turn a visit to the castle into a step back in time and a unique experience while storytellers recount the legends of former times around the fire.
This year’s edition attracted the crowd especially on the first and second weekend due to pretty warm winter weather. This last weekend of December 17th-18th suffered a bit due to rain on Saturday and snowfall on Sunday. The fireplaces lit in the rooms were a welcome place to warm up, as well as the Glühwein. The courtyards were frequently the stages for the dance group Les Pieds Gauches specialized in medieval dances as well as the musicians of Hauvoy.
At the moment the castle shows also a temporary exhibition Witch-hunting in the Pays de Vaud between 15th and 17th century until June 24th 2012. It allows discovering a little known facet of the region and the castle. First traces of hunts for supposed witches and warlocks began in Switzerland around 1420 in Valais, Fribourg, Neuchâtel and the Pays de Vaud. The repression was extremely harsh here; from the 3500 people executed in Switzerland, around 2000 of them came from the Pays de Vaud. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Chillon was a major detention center for people suspected of witchcraft. It was here that they had to wait for trial and where they had to complete their sentence. This exhibition, based on documents linked to Chillon and to this region, shows and highlights the various aspects of this phenomenon.
These and more photos of the Castle and the event are under www.pbase.com/tcom/chillon