History and Old Town of Lausanne, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland

Lausanne s a political municipality, the capital of the Swiss canton of Vaud and the capital of the district of Lausanne. The city is located in French-speaking Switzerland (French-speaking Switzerland) on Lake Geneva, an important economic, cultural and educational center as well as an important transport hub in western Switzerland.

Born in Roman times on the shores of Lake Geneva, Lausanne climbs towards the hill of the City in the Middle Ages and is surrounded by walls. In 1536, she adopted the Calvinist Reformation. Having become the capital of the new canton of Vaud in 1803, it will be able to stretch out in the heart of an agglomeration of 400,000 inhabitants.

In Roman times, the vicus (town) of Lousonna (name of Celtic origin) was located around the present-day Théâtre de Vidy. Endowed with a forum with basilica, sanctuary and temple, it counted more than 1,500 inhabitants. With the decline of the empire, the inhabitants preferred to settle on the more defensible hill of the City. In the 6th century, the village welcomes a bishop who will help it to grow; in 1275, escaping the influence of the Dukes of Savoy over the entire region, it inaugurated its Gothic cathedral. With up to 9,000 inhabitants, Lausanne was then the largest city in what was not yet French-speaking Switzerland.

The city came under Bernese domination and the Protestant Reformation was adopted in 1536. In 1723, a militia commander, Major Abraham Davel, tried to initiate a rebellion against the occupier, but was not followed by the City Council and will be beheaded. The French Revolution changes the situation. In 1797, the population gladly welcomed General Bonaparte and his troops. “Petitioners” grew bolder to demand Vaud independence, acquired in 1798. When the canton of Vaud was created in 1803, Lausanne naturally became its capital.

Throughout the XIX th and XX th centuries, Lausanne is growing slowly but surely. The imposing headquarters of the Federal Court is built between 1922 and 1927. The first skyscraper in Switzerland Tower Bel-Air, it was released in 1931. At the dawn of the XXI th century, it is the fourth city of Switzerland with now more than 145,000 inhabitants. The agglomeration has around 400,000, and forecasts predict 75,000 more by 2030.

According to the historical dictionary of Switzerland, the current municipality of Lausanne has been inhabited since 6000 BC. A Gallo-Roman vicus named Lousonna was founded from 15 BC. AD by the lake, in the current sector of the Vidy district. At the crossroads of many communication channels, it extends to the middle of iii th century, then it starts to decline in the Germanic invasions; It was finally abandoned in the middle of the iv th century in favor of the hill of the city, which can be defended through its escarpments.

The urban area of Lausanne was already in the 4th millennium BC. Settled. After Helvetia was incorporated into the Roman Empire, a Gallo-Roman vicus developed in the area of today’s Vidy, at the transshipment point from merchant ships on Lake Geneva to horse-drawn vehicles, whose inhabitants (vikanor Lousonnensium) are first mentioned in the 2nd century AD. The place name can be traced back to a Celtic formation from * lausā “slab of stone” and the suffix -ŏnna, which is common in water names and which originally referred to the flon. The settlement probably reached a size of 1.2 km in length and 250 m in width, making it the largest vicus in what is now Switzerland. In the course of the 3rd century this Roman settlement was oppressed by incursions by the West Germanic Alamanni and probably destroyed around 260, but it was probably not finally abandoned until the middle of the 4th century.

In the 3rd century a small craft settlement or refuge developed on the hill where the cathedral is located today. The name of the Roman settlement was transferred to this place. The first church dedicated to St. Thyrsus was built on this hill in the 6th century. Bishop Marius moved his seat from Avenches to Lausanne in the second half of the 6th century, thereby establishing the diocese of Lausanne. He was buried in the church at that time in 594.

Middle Ages
The initially still relatively small town belonged to the Kingdom of Burgundy from 888 to 1032. Lausanne is one of the stages of the Via Francigena, a pilgrimage route leading to Rome. It was mentioned as such by Sigéric, in 990, with the mention LIV Losanna (stage number starting from Rome).

During the 11th century Lausanne developed into a political, economic and religious center. The city became the center of the secular rule of the bishops. In the following period, especially in the 12th and 13th centuries, Lausanne experienced a real heyday. From 1032 to 1536, the bishop and the chapter of Lausanne, around the Notre-Dame cathedral, dominate a small ecclesiastical state which extends from Veveyse to Venoge, including in particular the vineyard of Lavaux. In 1275, Lausanne Cathedral was consecrated to the Virgin Mary by Pope Gregory X and Emperor Rudolph of the Holy Empire. The cathedral is the first Gothic style to be built outside French territory. The city then became a high place of Marian pilgrimage, attracting more than 70,000 pilgrims each year, nearly ten times the municipal population of the time. The Vaudois city then saw its demographic and political apogee and was even named city of empire by the Emperor.

The citizens of Lausanne, who fought for their first political rights in 1234, repeatedly received support from the Counts of Savoy against the rule of the bishops in the centuries that followed. In 1476 the city was occupied by Burgundian troops under Charles the Bold and sacked by the Confederates after the Battle of Grandson. On July 6, 1481, the Cité and the Lower City merged, which previously developed independently of each other. In 1525 the city concluded castle rights treaties with Bern and Freiburg.

Conquest by Bern
In 1525, the city of Lausanne signed an act of combourgeoisy with the cities of Bern and Friborg. This act was particularly useful when conflicts between the people of Lausanne and their bishop broke out and the Bernese were able to put an end to it. These conflicts subsided under the episcopate of Aymon de Montfalcon (1491-1515). Dissension resumed under the episcopate of his nephew, Sébastien de Montfalconwho decided to challenge the Lausanne residents to several rights acquired in 1481 when they gained political independence; the bishop also wanted to extend his temporal power over the whole of the Vaud region, then in Savoyard hands.

The people of Lausanne did not see the Duke of Savoy without concern, eager to meddle in their political life, and it was as much to guard against his encroachments as to free themselves from the bishop’s tutelage that they sought to conclude. with Bern, Friborg and Solothurn a treaty of combourgeoisy as these cities had between them. With Solothurn, the affair came to an end. The treaty providing mutual political, economic and military assistance was signed at half mast on December 7, 1525. It was renewable every five years.

A new chapter in the history of the city of Lausanne began in 1536 when the Bernese conquered Vaud under the chief field captain Hans Franz Nägeli. The residents of the city welcomed the introduction of the Reformation, and the then Bishop Sebastian von Montfaucon had to flee to Savoy. With this, Lausanne lost its status as a bishopric (the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Friborg have been in Friborg since 1613). Lausanne is one of the ten Swiss cities that received the label “Reformation City” in 2017 from the Federation of Evangelical Churches.

The fact that the Bernese made the population of Lausanne their subjects and degraded Lausanne to a provincial town was reluctantly accepted by the residents. There were therefore several uprisings against Bernese domination, including the 1588 conspiracy of Isbrand Daux, who wanted to play Vaud into the hands of Savoy, and the resistance under Jean Daniel Abraham Davel in 1723.

In execution of the 1525 treaty which had just been renewed, in January 1536, the Lausanne people provided a contingent of one hundred men at arms to the Bernese expedition which, under the leadership of Hans-Franz Naegli, was sent to unblock besieged Geneva by the Savoyards and the Catholic party. While crossing the country of Vaud then under the spiritual domination of the bishop of Lausanne, the Bernese destroyed a good number of castles, boroughs and churches and occupied the cities one after the other.

After liberating Geneva, the Bernese took again the city of Vevey and the castle of Chillonthen decided to enter the lands of the episcopal principality of Lausanne, thus flouting the treaty of combourgeoisy signed with this city. The bishop of Lausanne, prince of the Holy Roman-Germanic Empire and count of Vaud Sébastien de Montfalcon then had to flee and the city was taken without much resistance. From that date, the Bernese could easily propagate the reform. The country of Vaud is divided into bailiwicks, each headed by a bailiff, himself sent by Their Excellencies of Berne. The Bernese founded the University of Lausanne under the name of Académia Lausannensis.

In 1536 a period of Bernese domination began for Lausanne. The city’s population goes from 8,000 to 5,000 inhabitants. The Age of Enlightenment marks a turning point in the history of Bernese Lausanne. Shortly after the conquest, the Bernese rulers founded the Schola Lausannensis in 1537, which later became the theological Académie de Lausanne and finally the Université de Lausanne.

French Revolution
In 1789, the revolution struck France and the republican ideals spread throughout Europe. Pamphlets and other revolutionary brochures will cross the Swiss border and enter Vaudois land. Letters, intellectuals and Vaudois patriots such as Frédéric César de la Harpe will take the opportunity to bring up to date the fact that the Vaudois are in a state of submission to the Bernese. Companies were created, newspapers began to publish revolutionary statements and banquets in honor of a dreamed Lake Geneva republic were organized in Rolle, Nyon and even at the Jordils in Lausanne. Bern, instead of limiting its authority and giving more rights to the Vaudois, strengthens it. For fear that the Revolution will settle in Vaud, Bern condemns as illegal, traffic in newspapers and pamphlets as well as banquets and does not hesitate to condemn to death. It obliges you to take an oath in Bern and establishes new laws.

The Vaudois ideal of freedom is gaining ground slowly but surely. It was therefore not until 1798 that the bailiffs were definitively driven out of the country of Vaud. The Vaudois revolution therefore took place, with the help of French revolutionary troops led by Napoleon Bonaparte, very happy to have an ally whose territory is crossable to reach Italy. After the collapse of the Ancien Régime, in the wake of the Vaud Revolution in 1798, Lausanne became the capital of the Canton du Léman, which lasted until 1803 during the Helvetic Republic, and then became the center of the Canton of Vaud with the enactment of the Mediation Constitution. This made Lausanne the capital of the newly created canton.

As an important administrative center, the city experienced a rapid economic boom in the course of the 19th century in the course of industrialization. As a result of the brisk construction activity, Lausanne grew to its city limits as early as 1900. Projects to incorporate the neighboring towns of Renens, Prilly and Epalinges all failed in the first half of the 20th century due to the rejection by the population of the suburbs.

In the energy sector, gas took part in the industrial revolution. From 1847, a first gas plant was built in the district of Sous-Gare / Ouchy, before the production of town gas for the whole of the Lausanne agglomeration was moved in 1911 to the gas plant of Malley. This industrial establishment financed by the City of Lausanne was located in the territory of Renens.

In 1906, the opening of the Simplon tunnel, which connects Switzerland to Italy, allows the entire Lake Geneva region to develop and Lausanne to become an international railway junction: the direct Paris – Rome and the famous Orient-Express, from Paris to Istanbul and Athens, via Venice and Belgrade, now pass through Lausanne. Having understood the impact that a north-south link would have on its development, the Canton of Vaud and Lausanne are participating in the study of the project to the tune of 5 million out of a total of 75 million francs that the tunneling would cost. They will also finance the Grand-Saint-Bernard road tunnel, opened in 1964.

In 1915, seeking a country symbolizing peace and harmony between peoples, Pierre de Coubertin decided to transfer the IOC headquarters to Lausanne.

The Treaty of Lausanne was signed on July 24, 1923 in Ouchy Castle. From June to July 1932, negotiations on Germany’s reparations took place at the Lausanne Conference.

From the 1930s, Lausanne underwent profound changes. Many unsanitary neighborhoods in the historic city center, where the most disadvantaged classes lived, were demolished. Many industries and other smelly tanneries occupied the valleys of Flon and Louve, rivers that are now channeled. Diseases proliferated there, prostitution had taken up its quarters there. The neighborhood had had a bad reputation for centuries. Finally, many streets in the Rôtillon district have disappeared, such as “La Rue du Pré” or “La Ruelle des Cheneaux”. These districts located at the bottom of the valleys contrasted strongly with the modern city which developed at the top of the three hills, in particular in Saint-François 50. From June 16 to July 9, 1932, theLausanne Conference.

In 1940, Lausanne passed the milestone of 100,000 inhabitants.

The “hygienist” trends, which de facto accompanied the culture of hydrotherapy which had been developing in Switzerland since the beginning of the century, will make the last slums of Rue Centrale, Saint-Martin, the ruelle du Petit Saint-Jean or the Rue Chenau-de-Bourg. With each “modernization”, industrial activity has moved west, as has prostitution, following the route of the Flon to Malley.

The 1960s saw the transfer of the university and the EPFL to the countryside of Dorigny by the lake, which would become the largest campus in Switzerland.

In 1964 the city hosted the Swiss National Exhibition.

In 1983, Lausanne was awarded the Prix de l’Europe.

In 2008, saw the inauguration of the M2, the smallest and steepest automatic metro in the world, which in 2015 saw more than 25 million people circulate.

In 2015, Lausanne was awarded the honorary title of “European City of the Reformation” by the Community of Evangelical Churches in Europe.

From January 9 to 22, 2020, the City of Lausanne hosted the III Winter Youth Olympic Games 52.

Nowadays, the city stands out as a city of youth, a student city (10% of the population), a city of culture with 25 museums and many annual activities.

Old town
The town planning of Lausanne is marked by a tormented topography, characterized by the presence of several hills separated by two deep ravines carved by the rivers of Louve and Flon. The difficulties resulting from this provision have long been an obstacle to trafficking. Lausanne was indeed an important crossroads where international axes crossed towards Italy, France and Germany, and the heavy chariots, sometimes harnessed of four, six, or even eight horses, had to slip between narrow streets, winding and steep. For example, coming from Italy or Valaisto get to France, you entered Lausanne via rue Etraz, then you had to take the slippery cobblestones of rue de Bourg, the steep slope of rue Saint-François, cross the Flon on a narrow bridge to take the tortuous street du Grand-Saint-Jean to go up to Saint-Laurent and exit by rue de l’Ale.

A major advance has been established in xix th century with the realization in the 1836-1850 years, the “crossing of Lausanne” according to the general project of the engineer Adrien Pichard. This project includes the construction of an annular boulevard around the old medieval city, and crosses the main obstacles by a large bridge over the ravine of Flon, and a tunnel through the rocky outcrop of the Barre.

In the 1870s, the construction of the Flon station with the creation of the Lausanne-Ouchy funicular and the bringing to Lausanne of the waters of Lake Bret, allowed the partial filling of the Flon valley by burying the first row of arches of the large bridge, and the development of an industrial district on the platform thus conquered. Various peripheral districts then developed, in particular those of the station and Georgette.

Historical heritage
Located near the cathedral and built between 1400 and 1430, the Château Saint-Maire now belongs to the canton of Vaud and is the seat of the cantonal government. Seat of the Bishop until the Reformation, in 1536, it then became the seat of Bernese power by serving as a residence for the bailiffs, until 1798. The late Gothic building was restored around 1900; its current appearance is largely the result of these major works (facade on the square side, interior decoration). The House of the bishop always retains a decoration from the early xvi th century, including a remarkable fireplace finely carved.
The former bishopric of Lausanne housed the bishops of Lausanne before the construction of the Château Saint-Maire. Built between the xi th and the xv th century and rebuilt several times from the xviii th century, it now houses the Historical Museum of Lausanne.
The tower of the Ale is a vestige still standing of the surrounding wall which formerly protected the city.
Located on the shore of Lake Geneva, the Château d’Ouchy was built in 1170 by the bishopric of Lausanne (completely rebuilt, except for the main tower, in the form of a hotel, in the 1890s).
The Lausanne town hall was built between 1673 and 1675 between Place de la Palud and Place de la Louve. In addition to its administrative and political functions still in force, the Town Hall originally also fulfilled an economic function, housing a market hall on the ground floor, as well as a defensive function thanks to its bell tower which warned dangers.
The gibbet of Lausanne was located in Vidy under the Ancien Régime. Major Abraham Davel was beheaded there on April 24, 1723. A monument commemorates his memory on this site, which was excavated in 1898 by archaeologist Albert Naef. The numerous bones of convicts found on this occasion were placed temporarily in the chapel of La Maladière, then probably re-buried under the monument erected in 1899. The site is now included in the large ensemble of Louis-Bourget park. Vidy housed the gallows and the scaffold of Lausanne from 1544 until the abolition of the death penalty in the canton of Vaud in 1874. The last Vaudoise executed in Vidy was the arsonist Marie Marguerite Durussel in the fall of 1818 and the last Vaudois was Héli Freymond in 1868.
The neoclassical pavilion of the Abbaye de l’Arc, with a large terrace for shooting practice, was built in Montbenon in 1814 by the architect Henri Perregaux.
The Literary Circle (Place Saint-François 7) was founded in 1819 in order to provide literature lovers with a reading room where they can keep abreast of recent publications. Since 1821, the Circle has its headquarters in a house rebuilt in 1788 for Jean-Samuel Loys de Correvon. In 1855, the ground floor was modified when the square was leveled to house the Bazar Vaudois store. The upper floor, still occupied by the Literary Circle, has reception rooms (billiards and large living room) overlooking the Place Saint-François, which have retained their remarkable decor (woodwork, stucco) in the Louis XVI style.
The Beau-Rivage Palace hotel is a five-star palace built in 1861 (Beau-Rivage wing) and in 1908 (Palace) on the shore of Lake Geneva, and the Lausanne Palace is a palace built in 1915 in the city center.

Religious buildings
The Notre Dame Cathedral, a Protestant, was built mostly between 1170 and 1230 approximately. It is the most important Gothic cathedral in Switzerland, drawing its models from northern France (Laon) and southern England (Canterbury). Its famous painted portal is one of the few in Europe to still retain significant traces of its original polychromy. The cathedral was restored in the 1870s by Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, who died in Lausanne in 1879, while the construction site was in full swing. Note that the cathedral also houses one of the last watchtowers Europe, which proclaims the time to the four cardinal points from the belfry, 365 days a year, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The Reformed Church of St. Francis, located on the square namesake, was built between the xii th and xiii th century. It takes its name from the Franciscan monks who had been called there to provide religious service.
The reformed church of Saint-Laurent was built between 1716 and 1719 on the remains of an old medieval church. Today it is located at the heart of the network of pedestrian streets in downtown.
The Notre-Dame du Valentin, Catholic basilica, built in 1832 by the architect Henri Perregaux.
The Scottish Church, built in 1877 according to the plans of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.
The English Church, located in the Sous-Gare district.
The German church of Villamont.
The Valentin Chapel, affiliated with the Evangelical Methodist Church in Switzerland, located on the Place de la Riponne.
The synagogue, located near the Georgette district.
The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Gerassimos located next to the synagogue.
The mosque, located under the station.
The Protestant Church of Saint-Luc (rue de la Pontaise), 1938-1940, by the architect Paul Lavenex.
Various temples and churches spread throughout the city.
The Bois-Gentil Ecumenical and Neighborhood Center (Chemin du Bois-Gentil 9) was built in 2001-2002 by the architect Jean-Pierre Merz.