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Chillon Castle, Montreux
Château de Chillon on Lake Geneva

Chillon Castle is located on a rock on the banks of Lake Geneva. The water castle is the most visited historic building in Switzerland. For nearly four centuries Chillon was the residence and profitable toll station of the Counts of Savoy.

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The Prisoner of Chillon

The Prisoner of Chillon is a 392-line narrative poem by Lord Byron. Written in 1816, it chronicles the imprisonment of a Genevois monk, François Bonivard, from 1532 to 1536.

On 22 June 1816, Lord Byron and his contemporary and friend Percy Bysshe Shelley were sailing on Lake Geneva (referred to as "Lac Leman") and stopped to visit the Château de Chillon. After touring the castle (and walking through the dungeon in which Bonivard was imprisoned), Byron was inspired by Bonivard's story and composed The Sonnet of Chillon.

  Location of Water Tower of LucerneThe rock island between Lake Geneva and the steep looming mountains was inhabited even in prehistoric times. For hundreds of years the passage of ships on Lake Geneva and the important land route to the St. Bernhard Pass was controlled from this island. Chillon belonged to the Counts of Savoy from the 12th to the 16th century, then the inhabitants of Bern conquered the water castle, and subsequently the inhabitants of Vaud prevailed. More than 300,000 guests visit Chillon per year. They view the wall paintings from the 14th century, the subterranean vaults, parade halls and the bedroom (which has been preserved in its original form) dating to the time of Bernese rule. The entire complex consists of 25 buildings and three courtyards, protected by two circular walls.