In the heart of the renowned vineyards betwixt the Alps and Lake Léman, Aigle Castle has reigned supreme since the end of the 12th century. The former residence of the Knights of Aigle, the nobility of Compey-Thorens and then the Bernese Governors, it has now opened its doors to one and all with an invitation to discover the Vine and Wine Museum within its prestigious walls.
Over 800 years ago, at the turn of the 13th century, two fortified towers stood face to face up on the hilltop of Blonaire. At the end of the Ormonts valley, this strategic location provided an extended view over the Rhône valley. One tower belonged to the Knights of Aigle and the other to the Counts of Savoie. Aigle Castle would rise up on the foundations of the first, while those of the second would see the creation of Dîme House.
In 1475 the Burgundy Wars would pit the Swiss against the Duke of Burgundy. At the end of August, a band of highlanders originating from the Gesseney region (Saanen), Castle d’Oex and the Ormonts attack and capture Aigle Castle. They turn out to be in the pay of the Republic of Berne. The Right Bank region of the Rhône, from Lavey up to Lake Léman (which up until then had been part of the Duchy of Savoie) then becomes jointly owned by the Republics of Berne and Fribourg from 1476. In turn, it would be assigned exclusively to the reign of the Republic of Berne from 1483. It was in this way that the region turned into the first French-speaking land to be integrated into the Swiss Confederation.
The Republic of Berne installs its Governor in Aigle Castle. The incumbent wastes no time in profoundly transforming the Castle, developing both its defensive and residential capacities. In the 1490s the big square tower is built. It proudly dominates the skyline of the winegrowers’ quarter in the Cloisters as well as its picturesque church, the latter dedicated to Saint Maurice right up until the time of the Reformation.
Preached in Aigle by Guillaume Farel, the Reformation is adopted into the Government of Aigle (actually Chablais vaudois) in 1528. And so it became the first officially reformed French-speaking region. The Bernese period comes to an end with the Vaudoise Revolution of 1798.
Aigle Castle is bought by the district of Aigle in 1804 for the sum of CHF 5'670. For almost two centuries, Aigle Castle takes on multiple roles : becoming a court and a prison as well as offering lodgings to poor families in the district. Graffiti, either that of prisoners or of visitors, are still visible to this day in numerous rooms of the Castle.
From 1900, the value of Aigle Castle as a heritage site becomes recognised more and more. It is designated a historic monument and numerous restoration projects set out to transform it into a cultural venue. Finally in 1975, Aigle Castle becomes home to the Vine and Wine Museum as well as to four reception halls reserved for banquets and seminars.