Saturday, 28 January 2012



Geneva is situated where the Rhone exits Lake Geneva, a financial centre, a worldwide centre for diplomacy and the most important UN international co-operation centre with New York thanks to the presence of numerous international organisations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations and the Red Cross. It is also the place where the Geneva Conventions were signed, which chiefly concern the treatment of wartime non-combatants and prisoners of war.

Geneva's most famous monument, The Jet d'eau, is the world's tallest water fountain and provides a constant landmark for exploring the city. Geneva's ancient Old Town, a gothic maze of cobblestone streets topped by historic Saint Pierre's Cathedral and the Town Hall,  offers a living glimpse of the past while Geneva's more than thirty museums and art galleries capture the rich and vibrant history of the city including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO).   For a more historical perspective, head to the Art and History Museum or the Maison Tavel – the oldest house in the city. Make sure to leave some time to check out wonderful antique boutiques located throughout the old town. Wander down along the old city walls to Geneva's theater district and center of culture at Place Neuve.  

For a change of pace take a cruise on the lake or relax in one of Geneva's main waterfront parks. Take a dip at Bains de Paquis or just relax in one of the lakeside parks or cafes or stroll to Bastions Park for a glimpse of Reformation Wall containing the effigies of Geneva's founding fathers. 

Be sure to check out Geneva’s famed Market Street to buy a Swiss watch or just window shop on Rue de Rive and Rue du Rhone but try not to look at the price tags. Relax at one of the caf√©s at Place du Molard or Place de la Fusterie for some first class people watching.

Take a tour of the European Headquarters of the United Nations followed up by a visit to the Red Cross Museum across the street. Be sure to take note of the many sculptures as you wander the grounds in between including the “Broken Chair” monument to land mine victims at Place des Nations.

Hop across the L’Arve River to the Bohemian burg of Carouge modeled after Nice, France and filled with quaint boutiques where you can actually observe the artists at work in their studios. Relax in one of Carouge’s artsy cafes or hang around until after dark to party in one the neighborhood’s famous jazz clubs.

Explore Geneva’s most international districts located just north and east of Gare Cornavin. Try one of the area’s many ethnic restaurants and don’t forget the shopping. The Schtrumpfs Building located at 23-29 Rue Louis-Favre in Les Grottes is a fantastical architectural icon that defies description.

Mingle with the locals at Plainpalais, Geneva’s largest outdoor flea market open Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 08:00 to 17:00 rain or shine. Antiques, records, vintage clothing and other curios await savvy bargain hunters.

Geneva is a city of many faces, among the most famous of these is its role as the world capital of luxury watchmaking, a title earned by generations in the pursuit of perfection. Many monuments and visitor attractions remind the visitors of the role the city played in watchmaking history.

With a myriad of boutiques and department stores, Geneva offers something for everyone. It’s the watch capital of the world, a centre for exquisite jewelry, and a place to find high quality Swiss and imported items. Before you leave, don’t forget to purchase some chocolate from one of Geneva’s master chocolate-makers. And why not stock up on Swiss army knives? They make the ideal gift for anyone - including yourself!

Geneva is the perfect home base for exploring the surrounding countryside. Day trips to the nearby towns of Montreux, Chamonix and Lausanne are highly recommended.

Geneva’s Top 5:
Saint Peter's Cathedral
St Peter's Cathedral
  1. Jet D'Eau. Originally a simple security valve at the Coulouvreni√®re hydraulic factory, this water fountain has, over the years, grown to be the symbol of Geneva. In 1891, it was transferred to the "Rade", to become a major tourist attraction. However, it was not until 1951 that it was provided with an autonomous pumping station, propelling 500 litres of water per second to a height of 140 metres at a speed of 200 km per hour (124 miles/h). Eight 9,000-watt projectors light the fountain’s majestic column in the evening as it soars skywards.
  2. St Peter's Cathedral. 157 steps lead to the summit of the cathedral’s north tower and to a fabulous panorama overlooking the city and the lake. The first phase of the cathedral’s construction dates back to the year 1160 and lasted nearly a century. Many events, including a series of fires, led to restorations and reconstructions, modifying its original design. Then, in the middle of the 16th century, the advent of the Reformation, with its philosophy of austerity, altered the entire interior of the building. All ornaments were removed and the brightly coloured walls whitewashed. Only the stained glass windows were spared. Its current neo-classic facade dates from the middle of the 18th century, having replaced the former Gothic one.
  3. Place du Bourg-de-FourIn the very heart of the Old Town, the Place du Bourg-de-Four has always been a meeting place. Today, hosts of Genevans still gather around its lovely 18th century flowered fountain or on the terrace of a picturesque bistro. Since Roman times, it was a centre for commerce. In the middle of the 16th century, the houses were raised in order to accommodate exiled Protestants. Today, one may admire magnificent specimens of 16th century architecture, as well as handsome constructions of the 17th and 18th. including the convent of the Order of St. Clare and, until 1857, a hospital.
  4. Basilica of Notre-Dame. The construction of this basilica, which owes much to the joint efforts of many Catholic circles, lasted from 1852 to 1857.In 1850, it was decided to attribute a piece of land belonging to former fortifications to the Catholic parish of Geneva, which had only been able to use the Saint- Germain church for some ten thousand worshipers. Built entirely of sandstone within the Cornavin bastion, its architecture was inspired by the 12th century classic Gothic style and to a great extent, by the Amiens cathedral. The latest restorations were completed in 1981.
  5. United Nations Building
    United Nations Building. Constructed between 1929 and 1936 to house the League of Nations, the Palais des Nations became the headquarters of the United Nations in 1946 when the former organisation was dissolved. The vast wooded park overlooking the lake, where it is located, was donated by the City of Geneva. Today, after the completion of a new wing in 1973, it is the second most important centre of the United Nations after  New York. Its area is the size of the Palais de Versailles and its Assembly Room, seating 2,000, is as large as the Paris Opera House. Over 25,000 delegates meet here annually to negotiate world peace.
    Location: Avenue de la Paix
    Hours: 10:00 – 12:00, 14:00 – 16:00 Daily. 09:00 – 16:00 (July and August)
    Admission: SFr.8.50. 
    Please note your passport is required for entry.

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