Castle Architecture

Castle Dungeons

"Dungeon" is a corruption of donjon, the French term for tower. Contrary to popular belief of the dank, dark basement pit, most prisoners were held in the castle's highest tower, passage to which was guarded by soldiers. Basement or pit dungeons did exist with famous prisoners immortalized in literature.

For six years Francois Bonivard was chained to a pillar in Switzerland's Château Chillon, near Montreux. In the early 1800s, romantic poet Lord Byron spent a night in the dungeon and wrote The Prisoner of Chillon. His name can still be seen carved into the third pillar.

The Château d'If near Marseille, France was the setting where Alexandre Dumas père's fictional character ... escaped to become The Count of Monte Cristo.

Medieval castles' stone walls, narrow windows and limited access points led many to be converted into prisons. The Tower of London and Paris' Bastille housed many political prisoners over the years.