Geneva – the French-speaking city in south-western Switzerland, the center of the canton of the same name, which combines the tranquility of an elite vacation and the turbulent passions of political life. Tourists come here, who appreciate cleanliness, tranquility, perfect service and do not pay attention to prices. Almost half of the population of Geneva is composed of foreigners from 200 thousand people; these are wealthy citizens of their countries who have chosen Switzerland for their stay for comfort and safety.
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Geneva is known for its attractions: the lake, beautiful scenery, clocks, knives and cutlery, chocolate and fondue. The headquarters of several UN agencies are located here.
Thanks to the protection of the mountains, Geneva is warm; night frosts and plus temperatures during the day are common in winter. Snow lies in the city for less than a month, but in the mountains it falls enough for skiing. In summer the city receives little precipitation and the temperature stays around +20 °C.
History of Geneva
Archaeologists have proved that there was a settlement on the site of Geneva as early as 120 BC. A century later, the name of the city was first mentioned in the works of Julius Caesar, whose troops occupied Geneva. In V century the city submitted to the Burgundians. In 400, a bishop was appointed to Geneva, the residence of these Catholic hierarchs remained here for more than 1,000 years. The patronage of the church did not protect Geneva from constant military skirmishes with the Dukes of Savoy, who dreamed of expanding their holdings. In XIV century they briefly succeeded, but by XVI century the city was granted the rights of autonomy.
In 1541 Geneva became the center of Calvinism, its population grew at the expense of refugees from Catholic countries. It was from this time that banking and watchmaking developed. At the beginning of the XIX century Geneva was part of Napoleon’s territories, and only in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna, together with the surrounding areas, became a canton of Switzerland. In the twentieth century, the headquarters of the League of Nations, the Red Cross, the European branch of the United Nations settled there. Nowadays Geneva is the most important financial and political center of Europe.
Natural attractions of the city
Geneva lies on the southern shore of Lake Geneva and is surrounded by the Jura Mountains and the Alps, from every corner of the city you can see the snow-capped Mont Blanc peak, which is only an hour away. There are no large industrial enterprises in the region, electricity comes only from renewable sources and from the incineration of garbage. As a result of deliberate care for the environment, Geneva’s houses, like the rest of Switzerland, have drinking water running from the taps, and you can safely swim on the city’s pebble beach without fear of harming your health. The season opens in mid-May and ends in mid-October. Next to the beach are equipped with outdoor pools, rent equipment for diving and windsurfing, work instructors. Entrance to the beach in the season costs 7 Swiss francs.
The area of Lake Geneva is 582 km². The easiest way to cross it or see it is by boat, boat or motorboat. Since 1823, popular with the inhabitants of this area are pleasure boats. Almost all cities, towns and villages on the shores of the lake have piers, and navigation lasts from Easter to October.
Located on the lake monumental “Vodomet” is one of the symbols of Geneva. Water from the fountain rises to a height of 140 meters. At one time it was a water-jet valve, regulating pressure at a hydroelectric power plant on the Rhone River, but in 1891 it was turned into a fountain.
Geneva’s gardens and parks
The city has dozens of parks for recreation of citizens. In the English Garden, planted near the southern tip of Lake Geneva in the XIX century, Flower Clock was created in 1955. Now all tourists consider it their duty to take a picture by the 5-meter dial. Several times a year, as the flower collection is updated, the clock changes its appearance. At 300 m to the north-east of the garden, right on the lake, on the pier, operates the largest in Europe fountain Gé d’Eau, the height of 140 meters. It was launched in 1891, but then it was 50 meters lower. During the day the attraction seems to be just a giant vertical stream of water, but in the evening when the lights turn on, the fountain is a fabulous spectacle.
To the east of the English Garden is the Parc de la Grange, a lush rose garden. Unlike its 24-hour neighbor, it closes at night – at 9 p.m. in the summer and 6 p.m. in the winter. During the summer season, the park’s outdoor concert hall gives free concerts, and children have fun on the playground while their parents cook in the barbecue area. On the west shore of the lake, next to the UN complex, the Geneva Botanical Gardens, with its 12,000 plant species and extensive thematic collections, is open. On the other side of the lake are the spacious courses of the local golf club.
Attractions in Geneva
The historic part of the city is typical of Europe: neat streets and red-tiled stone houses. The main sights of old Geneva can be covered in an hour long leisurely stroll. First of all tourists visit the area of Bourg de Four and the nearby St. Peter’s Cathedral, which began to be built in the XII century in the Romanesque style and ended 150 years later in the Gothic. Over the centuries of its history the church has been enriched by extensions and decoration elements in accordance with the current architectural fashion. In the basement of the cathedral is the Archaeological Museum. Nearby, a modern monument, 100 meters long, is the Reformation Wall with 5-meter-high statues of Jean Calvin and his associates. There are smaller statues flanked by figures from the Protestant movement, such as William of Orange and Oliver Cromwell, who had only an indirect connection to Switzerland.
Bourg de Four Square Geneva Cathedral Reformation Wall UN Palace in Geneva
On the west side of the botanical garden, in the Arianna Park, the complex of the UN Palace, which reproduces the stylistics of ancient temples, was erected. Another architectural landmark is the Clarte House, designed by Corbusier and built in 1930 next to the Museum of Natural History. In the last century, the glass-covered enclosure was a breakthrough in architecture and spawned many imitations. Finally, the most mysterious object in Geneva is the Large Hadron Collider. It is extremely difficult to get into the giant tunnel – the queue is booked for weeks in advance, and the three-hour tours are only available in English and French. But every traveler is pleased to know that somewhere near him the future of science is being created.
Despite its modest size, there are about 30 museums in Geneva. A must-see is the Patek Philippe Watch Museum west of the University of Geneva. The founders of the museum are the makers of one of the most expensive watch brands in the world, founded in 1839. The museum is open all days except Sundays and Mondays; the ticket price is 10 francs. Adjacent to it is the MAMCO, a museum of contemporary art with works of the masters of recent decades.
Geneva Museum of Art and History At the Patek Philippe Watch Museum At the MAMCO
An extensive collection of Russian avant-garde is presented in the Petit Palais, works by Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet are in the Museum of Art and History, Impressionists and twentieth-century artists are in the Interart Gallery. A unique collection of ancient art is on display at the private Barbier-Mueller Museum on Rue Jean Calvin. To the west of Geneva Cathedral is the house museum of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was born and lived here until he was 10 years old. In the Delis Park is the museum of Voltaire, another Enlightenment figure who was a guest in Geneva.
Geneva (Switzerland) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Geneva with descriptions, guides and maps.
City of Geneva (Switzerland)
Geneva – the second largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the French-speaking canton of the same name. It is located in the south-west of the country on the picturesque Lake Geneva. Geneva is a city with an amazing cosmopolitan atmosphere and is the headquarters for many famous international organizations: the European office of the United Nations, the Red Cross, the World Health Organization. The historic core rises on the hillside above the Rhone River and is surrounded on three sides by a ring of buildings and wide streets that follow the contours of the old fortifications.
Geneva is a very proud city. It only became the canton of Switzerland in 1803. At least since the 16th century Geneva was an independent republic. The official language is French, spoken by the vast majority of the population and written on all street signs and signs.
Things to do (Geneva):
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First encounter with Geneva!
The largest alpine lake and other highlights of the city on an extensive sightseeing tour.
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Geneva and surroundings: Salève Mountain
Fabulous panoramic views of the mountains and the lake
Geography and climate
Geneva is located in the southwestern part of Lake Geneva at the source of the Rhone River. The city is surrounded by the ranges of the Alps and the Jura. The Arves River flows west of the center of Geneva into the Rhone.
A view of Lake Geneva
The climate is temperate maritime with mild winters and warm summers. Autumn and winter in Geneva are quite rainy. Near the city are the ski resorts of Verbier and Crans-Montana.
From any point of Geneva you can see the highest peak of the Alps – Mont Blanc.
Information for tourists
- Population – more than 200 thousand people.
- Area – 15.93 km².
- The language is French.
- Currency – Swiss franc.
- Time – UTC +1, in summer +2.
- Visas – Schengen.
- The highest point – 378 m.
- Popular shopping: chocolate, cheese, wine, Swiss multifunctional knives, cuckoo clocks, wristwatches.
- Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world and Switzerland. For shopping is better to go to neighboring France. Many budget places are located around the train station, in the Paquis area and the street de l’Ecole de Médecine.
- Many bars and clubs are located southwest of the old town.
Geneva is a very ancient city. The first settlements here appeared more than two thousand years ago. In 120 BC, the Romans captured a major Celtic city that was founded at the source of the Rhone River. In the 4th century, most of the inhabitants of Geneva converted to Christianity. In the 9th century the city becomes part of the Holy Roman Empire.
Geneva is first mentioned in the Records of the Gallic War. The city’s name is thought to come from the Celtic word genawa, which means “bend of the river.
Interestingly, Geneva is spelled Geneva in English, Genève in French, Genf in German, and Ginevra in Italian.
Geneva in winter
In the 16th century Geneva became one of the centers of the European Reformation. Future Protestants sought refuge here. In the 16th century Geneva, Zurich and Bern entered into a military alliance. At the end of the 18th century Napoleon annexed the city to France, but in 1815 (after the Congress of Vienna) Geneva again became part of the Swiss Confederation. After World War I, the headquarters of the League of Nations was located in Geneva.
How to get there
Geneva is a major transportation center. Its airport is served by almost all European carriers, including low-cost airlines (such as Easy Jet) with destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Edinburgh, London, Madrid, Manchester and Paris. There are also transcontinental flights to Geneva from Washington, New York, Montreal, and Beijing.
You can get from the airport to the city center free of charge by public transport. To do this, you must print out a ticket using the ticket machine located in the baggage claim area. It is valid for 80 minutes only with the boarding pass (airline ticket).
Geneva is easily accessible by train from almost every city in Switzerland. International trains include destinations such as: Paris, Milan, Rome, Florence, Venice and Marseille.
St. Pierre Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saint-Pierre is Geneva’s most famous landmark. This grandiose Romanesque church was built in the 12th century and is located at the highest point of the old city. In the 16th century, Jean Calvin, the founder of Calvinism and a prominent Reformation figure, preached in the cathedral. During this period, the cathedral lost much of its rich interior decoration.
The towers of the cathedral began to be built in the 13th century. The spire was installed at the end of the 19th century, replacing the tower destroyed by fire in the 15th century. The nave of the cathedral ends with a 12th-century choir and a semicircular apse with short transepts. When visiting the cathedral, we recommend paying attention to the magnificent late Romanesque and Early Romanesque capitals. The beautiful stained glass windows are copies of the original ones from the 15th century, which are preserved in the museum. In the southwest corner is a late Gothic chapel. The remains of a Roman and early Christian settlement have been found beneath the cathedral.
Gé-Do is the symbol of Geneva, the large fountain on Lake Geneva. It represents a stream of water, which rises to a height of more than 140 meters.
Bourg de Four
The Bourg de Four is the most charming and atmospheric square of the old town. It stands on the site of an ancient Roman forum and a later medieval marketplace. The square has beautiful architecture, an 18th-century fountain and the Clementin monument.
Palace of Nations
The Palais des Nations is one of the centers of world diplomacy and now houses the European office of the United Nations (formerly the headquarters of the League of Nations). It is a large complex of monumental marble buildings.
Globe of science and innovation
The Globe of Science and Innovation, the symbol of CERN, is a wooden structure 27 meters high and 40 meters in diameter. Within its walls is the “Particle Universe” exhibition, which offers the visitor an exciting journey into the world of particles to the big bang.