Out of many serene places to visit in Geneva itself, countless are in whole of Switzerland; this post is for Chateau de Nyon. Actually, not even Geneva, Chateau de Nyon is a castle in the old town of Nyon of Canton of Vaud in Switzerland. The castle has the serene view of the Lake Geneva and the Alps.
History: Chateau de Nyon
Nyon castle is considered as a heritage site of Switzerland. It was built in the 12th century by the Cossonay-Prangins family as their residence. It was then later taken over by the counts of Savoy in 1293 and was rebuilt by Ludwig I of Savoy. The renovation of the fort started by adding two towers on the lake side in 1360. Chateau de Nyon was substantially renovated 1463.
In 1530s, the Bernese bailiff arrived at Nyon and took the castle from the house of Savoy. Between 1574-1583, the castle underwent through some major changes and it looked like as it is today. The construction was then undertaken by the chief magistrates of Berne (“Leurs Excellences”) and was converted as the seat of bailiff.
Later came the Vaud Revolution in 1798, and in 1804 the castle was bought by the town of Nyon from the then Canton of Vaud. Afterwards Chateau de Nyon housed the courts, town council meetings, prison and later from 1888, the town museum too & gradually transforming in to an administrative building.
4 centuries after the Bernese renovation, in 1947 saw losses of some of the houses, that were in front of the castle, in order to construct a huge square and change the fortification appearance completely. The last renovation given to the castle was from 1999 to 2006.
There’s a long history of prisons of Château de Nyon. The prison has jailed detainees for over 400 years, until the prison was closed in 1979. At the beginning, the jail had only 3 cells and when the city of Nyon bought the Castle from the Canton of Vaud, they worked on the castle to have shower, toilet and electricity installed, and increase the number of cells to 10.
An amateur society, was founded in 1860 by the name of Statues of the Museum Society with the aim to gather and safeguard natural history objects, inscriptions, antique artefacts, historical documents, medals, coins, plans, drawings, books etc. The society initially displayed their collection in the Collège de Nyon and later on passed it over to the town. Nyon city exhibited the collection in a part of the ground floor of the castle, marking the beginning of one of the Swiss’s first History Museum.
It was only until at a later date, in 1947, that it was renamed as The History and Porcelain Museum (and today as Château de Nyon) after a major exhibition of Nyon porcelain. The exhibition marked as a watershed in the history of the museum leading it to grow its collection of porcelain from 1781-1813 and displaying it in the beautiful dining room. The porcelain production started to decline from 1805 and was discontinued in 1813 due to the riots and wars during that period, whereas faience was discontinued in 1979.
Following the events of museum and renovations, in 2006 the entire castle was turned in to a museum, leaving some of the areas such a reception at the disposition of the town and general public. The castle now houses the exhibits of history of the region from the past 3000 years.
With the castle being turned completely in to a museum, there’s a permanent exhibition too, in the attic of Chateau de Nyon. The presentation is offered with mysterious and moving light and sound effects.
In the display are the furnitures of the former courts and detective novels of prisoners. There can also be seen the signs of once present inns (La Croix Blanche), crates for Sangal pasta, weather vanes (a rooster that has been shot, a golden angel with flickering wings), advertising images for shows from the 1940s, an unusable pianoforte, a reproduction of the castle of Nyon in matches, a bicycle that toured the lake in 1906, wax and sound models – a little disturbing in their pallor – and old portraits stored in the semi-darkness of the place.
Attic of Chateau de Nyon is a whole division of characters and sounds in the dejected atmosphere with the requisit owl that lives here for about 13 years now.
The city of Nyon has 2000 years of history to it. There are regular guided walking tours of the town, finding about the history of Nyon. The guided tours introduces the tourists to ancient Roman city, the Bernese influence, a walk through the heavenly parks to the fishermen village. The walk will along the quayside discovering the facts of Lake Geneva and other nearby sites.