Montreux in Switzerland

Montreux in Switzerland; lake, jazz festival and Freddie Mercury

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Montreux in Switzerland is even more international than London, with  44% of its inhabitants who were born abroad against 37% in London. Of course, the nationalities present in the Swiss city will not be as many as those of London.

Montreux is a municipality and a city in Switzerland located on the shores of Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps,, is part of the Riviera-Pays-d’Enhaut district in the canton of Vaud and has a population of approximately 26. 433, according to Wikipedia.

Montreux, the centre of the administrative area of ​​the Swiss Riviera region has been a popular tourist destination since the 19th century due to its pleasant and mild climate. Numerous Belle Époque palaces and hotels are located near the beaches of Lake Geneva. The Montreux railway station is a stop on the Simplon Railway that connects to Italy and a mountain railway junction.

Short history of Montreux in Switzerland

It was an important settlement during the Roman era. Roman villas from the 2nd to the 4th century AD were discovered, as well as a cemetery from the 6th to the 7th century AD, no surprising given its position. 

The introduction of viticulture to the region began in the 12th century and the sunny slopes of the region of Lake Geneva from Lavaux to Montreux soon became an important wine-growing centre for the region.

The territory was ruled by a number of sovereigns, the most notable of which were the Princes of Savoy. They unified the territory which is now included in the canton of Vaud and were usually considered popular rulers in the region.

The Reformation transformed the territory around Montreux and Vevey into a desirable refuge for the Huguenots from Italy, who brought their artisan talents and established workshops and businesses in the region.

During the 19th century, the tourism industry grew to become an important commercial outlet, with the great hotels in Montreux attracting the wealthy and educated from all over Europe and America.

montreux

Montreux and Freddie Mercury

There are several things to do if you are a fan of Freddie Mercury and the Queen

The statue of Freddie Mercury stands proudly in front of Lake Geneva with his fist raised in the air. The other hand holds its iconic microphone stand.

Guided tours are offered from 2020 organized by Freddie Tours that take you back to the years when Freddie Mercury was staying in Montreux. You will learn more about the relationship that the Queen singer had with the city of Montreux. The statue is located in the covered market square. There is no doubt that Freddie Mercury liked this area, just look at the cover of the album “Made in Heaven”

Also, here is the famous Montreux record studio used by many from David Bowie to The Rolling Stones, but Queen have been using it continuously since 1979 to the 1993. Now you can visit it for free, you will find a kind of museum with documents and paraphernalia of Freddie Mercury and the Queen.

Montreux is also famous for the concert of Frank Zappa at the Montreux Casino in December 1971 when it caught fire, Deep Purple later came to Montreux to record Smoke on the Water, inspired by this very event. The venue was rebuilt and reopened in 1967, it has always played an important role in the jazz festival.

The Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux’s association with music does not end here, in fact the city also hosts the Montreux Jazz Festival, held annually in early July from 1967. It is the second largest annual jazz festival in the world, after the Montreal International Jazz Festival in Canada. Here they played some of the greatest in jazz, from Ella Fitzgerald to Miles Davis and Nina Simone.

From the years ’70 onwards the festival began to include blues, rock and soul music and have played a little bit of all of them and more.

chillon castle

Chillon Castle

Impossible not to notice this nice castle on the lake next to the flowery lakefront, it is located outside Montreux but if you can walk there by following the lake it’s only 3 kms away. You can also go there by boat or bus (the latter much less romantic).

The fortress gained popularity in 1816 when the poet Lord Byron wrote a poem about François Bonivard, who was imprisoned in the prison for seditious beliefs and was later released.

A labyrinth of courtyards, towers and halls, this oval-shaped fortress of the 1200 century occupies a spectacular position on the shores of Lake Geneva and is richly decorated with armaments, antique furniture and works of art.

Don’t miss the ancient frescoes of the Chapelle St Georges and the mysterious Gothic dungeons. Chillon Castle was largely built by the House of Savoy and taken over by the governors of Bern after Vaud was conquered by Bern.

More to see in Montreux

9 km from the centre there is also what was once the home of Charlie Chaplin for last 18 years of his life. Since 2016 it has become a museum dedicated to the well-known actor and director.

The centre has many late hotels 1800 and start 1900 when famous people and rich Europeans and Americans came here to spend a relaxing time in a mild climate, walking along the city lakefront or through the surrounding hills. And you can pretend you are Ernest Hemingway.

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