Earlier this month, Mr. Wild Dingo and I spent some time with visiting friends, touring as many of Switzerland's attractions as possible. On one of the days we visited Chillon Castle, a historic monument in Montreaux that was constructed under several periods in history: the Savoy (11th century), the Bernese era (16th century) and the Vaudois era (18th century-present).
The castle is built on a rocky island and was strategically located to control movement between the north and south of Europe. The oldest written mention of the castle dates back from 1150 and shows that the Savoy family controlled the fortress and the path along the lake shore.
The Swiss, or more specifically, the Bernese, conquered Vaud and occupied Chillon in 1536. For more than 260 years the castle was used as a fortress, arsenal and prison.
The Bernese left Chillon at the time of the Vaud revolution in 1798 and the state of Vaud became its owner when the canton was created in 1803. In case you're wondering, Vaud is the state or canton where we live. The castle began restoration at the end of the 19th century.
The castle Chillon was made famous by English Poet, Lord Byron, who in 1816 wrote of the captivity of Francois Bonivard in his poem "The Prisoner of Chillon." Bonivard was a political activist who opposed the Duke of Savoy and his attempts to control Geneva. Well, the Duke of Savoy didn't seem to like this bad boy so he imprisoned him not once but twice, the second time for 6 years at Chillon, in the prison below the castle.
Bonivard was chained to a post in the center of the prison and couldn't see the outside, but he could hear the water and see the reflection coming from the windows which often fed his fears of being imprisoned below water. Later the Bernese set him free when they conquered Vaud.
In the prision you can see where Byron carved his name on the stone post where Bonivard was shackled.
Here is Mr. Wild Dingo inspecting one of the prison shackles.
"Hey Honey, this feels a lot like my wedding ring!"
What Mr. Wild Dingo doesn't know is that I just threw the only key out the window.
One of the interesting things about this castle is that no matter what room you go into, inevitably, it turned into a room where "justice was dispensed." It didn't matter if it was the dining room, prison, storage area, drawing room, kitchen, or even a latrine or a chapel, in almost every one of the rooms, the curation in the brochure seemed to end with "justice was dispensed here." No matter where you went, justice was a part of it. Those Swiss! True to their nature of efficiency, they sure knew how to make good use of all the rooms. The castle even had it's own "Hall of Justice," a reception and banquet hall where they "received their vassals and dispensed justice."
We had not been to a bedroom yet and Mr. Wild Dingo was naturally curious to see if justice was also dispensed in the bedrooms. I know what you're thinking Internet. Naughty Mr. Wild Dingo! So imagine our surprise when we came to the "Torture Room"--which ajoined a bedroom.
Here we are in the large dining room. You can see Mr. Wild Dingo expresses happiness as I tell him I would like to renovate our dinning room to look like this.
My friend Sarah and I look out the window, inevitably from a room where of course justice was dispensed. At this point, the Swiss are seriously starting to worry me.
The Keep and the Watchtower (cue Jimi Hendrix), offered the most beautiful views.
Oddly, there was no justice dispensed from the keep or the watch tower.
I guess it's too difficult to dispense justice when the views are so pretty.
When we came home that evening, we came home to this:
"Justice has been dispensed here."
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