Geneva Old Town, Switzerland

The old town of geneva is largest historical city in Switzerland, the Old Town is dominated by St-Pierre Cathedral, a major center of the Reformation. 157 steps lead you to the top of its tower for a unique panorama of the city. Then get lost in the charming surrounding streets. Each contains one of the many treasures of Geneva’s history.

Historic center of Geneva, the Old Town is built on a hill bounded by the Rues-Basses district on the lake side and Plainpalais on the opposite. The main administrative buildings of the City of Geneva are located there as well as museums. The area lives mainly on antique shops and a few bars. There are 82 buildings or sites in Geneva that are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance, and the entire old city of Geneva is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.

The old town, made up of the districts of Cité-center and Saint-Gervais, formed on and around a hill on the left bank of the lake and on both sides of the Rhône around the Island. Since prehistoric times, this hill was a natural refuge protected by the lake, the Rhône, the Arve, swamps and ditches to the east. The city extends in the xix E century after the demolition of the fortifications (1850-1880). In 2000, the town won the Wakker Prize from the Swiss National Heritage League for its concept of redeveloping the banks of the Rhône and its immediate urban environment. The project called “Fil du Rhône” is then gradually implemented.

Religious buildings: Cathedral St-Pierre et Chapel des Macchabés, Notre-Dame Church, Russian church, St-Germain Church, Temple de la Fusterie, Temple de l’Auditoire

Civic buildings: Former Arsenal and Archives of the City of Genève, Former Crédit Lyonnais, Former Hôtel Buisson, Former Hôtel du Résident de France et Bibliothèque de la Société de lecture de Genève, Former école des arts industriels, Archives d’État de Genève (Annexe), Bâtiment des forces motrices, Bibliothèque de Genève, Library juive de Genève «Gérard Nordmann», Cabinet des estampes, Centre d’Iconographie genevoise, Collège Calvin, École Geisendorf, University Hospital of Geneva (HUG), Hôtel de Ville et tour Baudet, Immeuble Clarté at Rue Saint-Laurent 2 and 4, Immeubles House Rotonde at Rue Charles-Giron 11–19, Immeubles at Rue Beauregard 2, 4, 6, 8, Immeubles at Rue de la Corraterie 10–26, Immeubles at Rue des Granges 2–6, Immeuble at Rue des Granges 8, Immeubles at Rue des Granges 10 and 12, Immeuble at Rue des Granges 14, Immeuble and Former Armory at Rue des Granges 16, Immeubles at Rue Pierre Fatio 7 and 9, House de Saussure at Rue de la Cité 24, House Des arts du Grütli at Rue du Général-Dufour 16, House Royale et les deux immeubles à côté at Quai Gustave Ador 44–50,

Tavel House at Rue du Puits-St-Pierre 6, Turrettini House at Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville 8 and 10, Brunswick Monument, Palais de Justice, Palais de l’Athénée, Palais des Nations with library and archives of the SDN and ONU, Palais Eynard et Archives de la ville de Genève, Palais Wilson, Parc des Bastions avec Mur des Réformateurs, Place de Neuve et Monument du Général Dufour, Pont de la Machine, Pont sur l’Arve, Poste du Mont-Blanc, Quai du Mont-Blanc, Quai et Hôtel des Bergues, Quai Général Guisan and English Gardens, Quai Gustave-Ador and Jet d’eau, Télévision Suisse Romande, University of Geneva, Victoria Hall.

Archeological sites: Foundation Baur and Museum of the arts d’Extrême-Orient, Parc et campagne de la Grange and Library (neolithic shore settlement/Roman villa), Bronze Age shore settlement of Plonjon, Temple de la Madeleine archeological site, Temple Saint-Gervais archeological site, Old City with Celtic, Roman and medieval villages.

Museums, theaters, and other cultural sites: Conservatoire de musique at Place Neuve 5, Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques, Fonds cantonal d’art contemporain, Ile Rousseau and statue, Institut et Musée Voltaire with Library and Archives, Mallet House and Museum international de la Réforme, Musée Ariana, Museum of Art and History, Museum d’art moderne et contemporain, Museum d’ethnographie, Museum of the International Red Cross, Musée Rath, Natural History Museum, Plainpalais Commune Auditorium, Pitoëff Theatre, Villa Bartholoni at the Museum of History and Science.

Guided tour
Discover, in the company of a professional guide, the old town of geneva, the largest historical city in switzerland. Explore the small surrounding streets and its shaded terraces. Each contains many treasures from geneva’s history that your guide will reveal to you.

Saint Pierre Cathedral
At the heart of the city of Geneva, the Cour Saint-Pierre offers a space, both spiritual and cultural, original and unprecedented: in addition to the Cathedral and its towers, a center of the Reformed tradition but also dating back to the origins of Christianity with its archaeological site, we now find the International Museum of the Reformation, on the ground floor of the Maison Mallet. You can also go from one to the other, in an underground rehabilitated on the occasion of the creation of the Museum. Slightly set back, the Auditorium, once a place of education for Calvin, completes this ensemble which is both representative of the past and open to current questions. Because the ambition of this new Espace Saint-Pierre is to contribute to deciphering the current world, between tradition and modernity, between cultural exploration and spiritual practice.

The cathedral itself was built in a Romanesque style in xii th and xiii th centuries and transformed in Gothic style in the XV th century. In the XVIII th century was built in front of the western portal a pediment made of columns of Greco-Roman style, to say the least surprising. At the entrance on the right is the chapel of St-Pierre (or chapel of the Macchabées) of flamboyant Gothic style not to be missed.

Archaeological Site of Saint-Pierre, Cathedral Cours Saint-Pierre 6, old town
One of the most important archaeological sites in the North of the Alps, presented with modern museographic techniques.

Maison Tavel 6, rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre
Medieval house transformed into a city history museum and home life Geneva the xiv th to the xix th century. A model of the town before the destruction of the fortifications (in 1850) is visible on the top floor of the house.

Old arsenal
Old arsenal (which the Genevans call the “Place des Canons”) – Covered square, in front of the Grand Conseil (Geneva parliament), where old cannons are stored.

International Museum of the Reformation, Rue du Cloître 4, old town
The Museum presents “The Reformation” of which Jean Calvin was the initiator, a tribute to a tradition that is both spiritual and cultural.

The house of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Grand-Rue 40
From its real name House of Rousseau and Literature, this arcade located in the birthplace of Jean-Jacques Rousseau serves as a place of meeting and debate between actors of literature and the public.

City Hall, the Treille
La Treille is the oldest Geneva Drive (xvi th century). It is home to the longest bench in the world (over 120 meters) and the chestnut tree announcing, with its first bud, the arrival of spring in Geneva.

Parc des Bastions
Park located at the foot of the Treille which houses the Wall of the Reformers as well as the first buildings of the University of Geneva. It was the city’s first botanical garden and is nowadays a popular relaxing spot for walkers.

Wall of the Reformers
Wall engraved in 1909 representing four Protestant reformers who marked Geneva’s history: Guillaume Farel (1489-1565), Jean Calvin (1509-1564), Théodore de Bèze (1513-1605) and John Knox (1513-1572).

Place de Neuve
Place located at the entrance to the Parc des Bastions and surrounded by the buildings of the Grand Theater, the Conservatory and the Rath Museum. In its center is a statue of General Dufour.

Musée Rath Place, Neuve 2
The first of the Swiss museums dedicated to Fine Arts, place of major temporary exhibitions organized by the Museum of Art and History.

Museum of Art and History, Rue Charles-Galland 2
A stone’s throw from the old town. Conceived as an encyclopedic museum, it brings together essential witnesses of all Western culture from its origins to the present day.

Barbier-Mueller Museum, Rue Jean-Calvin 10
The culture and tribal art of civilizations around the world brought together in one amazing collection. Located in the heart of the Old Town of Geneva, the Barbier-Mueller museum conserves, exhibits and studies a collection begun in 1907, including a number of essential and unobtainable masterpieces which makes it the private collection of non-Western arts. largest in the world. Today it has several thousand works of art from tribal and classical antiquity, as well as sculptures, fabrics and ornaments from civilizations around the world. The museum presents these pieces during thematic temporary exhibitions.