Geneva: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Published: February 18, 2023

What a strange city for a jet d’eau to be its main attraction, cathedral, castles, museums, international organisations, all give way to a simple jet d’eau. Once an independent republic, Geneva was annexed by France during the French Revolution, then preferred to join the Swiss Confederation in 1815 during the Congress of Vienna.

01. Jet d’Eau

The history of Geneva’s jet d’eau began in 1886 when a pressurised water system was distributed in the city to meet the needs of its growing industrialisation. To secure the network, an outlet was provided in case of overpressure, the jet d’eau. Since 1951, an autonomous installation has been used solely to throw the jet d’eau up to 140 metres, for a good part of the year.

02. Civic quarter

The Old Arsenal displays the cannons that once defended the independence of the small republic. It is located in the heart of a few streets that house most of the political power of the city and the canton. There is also the State Chancellery, whose beautiful courtyard features a two-storey ramp. Opposite, the medieval Maison Tavel presents the history of Geneva.

03. St Peter’s Cathedral

Situated at the top of the hill that constituted the original core of Geneva, the cathedral was rebuilt several times between the 4th and 15th centuries, and is preceded by an 18th century façade. In 1535, the Protestants took over and banned the Catholic mass. It was not until 2022 that a new Catholic service was held there.

04. Reformers’ Wall

It is composed of statues of Guillaume Farel, Jean Calvin, Théodore de Bèze and John Knox, four great figures of Protestantism. The Protestants made Geneva a safe city for their co-religionists, who were repressed in many European states. Some of them took refuge there, bringing their capital and their knowledge, which accelerated the development of the city.

05. International Committee of the Red Cross

In 1859, the battle of Solferino between the Austrians and the French left tens of thousands of victims on the battlefield for lack of sufficient structures to rescue them. Henri Durant, a Frenchman of Swiss origin, witnessed this human disaster. His realistic report gave rise to the idea of the Red Cross, which was created in Geneva in 1863 and still has its international headquarters there.

06. United Nations

Taking over the premises of its predecessor, the League of Nations, the UN set up an important administrative centre in Geneva in 1946. Today, it has more than 1,600 staff of all nationalities. This contributes to the international and multicultural dimension of the city. Many NGOs and other international organisations also have their headquarters in Geneva.

07. Broken Chair

At the initiative of Handicap International, this giant 12-metre tall crippled chair was designed by the sculptor Daniel Berset. It was temporarily erected in front of the United Nations in 1997 to encourage states to sign the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel mines. Due to the success of the sculpture, it was left in place after the signing of the convention.

08. Non-Violence

Following the assassination of John Lennon in New York in 1980, the Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd created this striking work. There are three original versions, one in Malmö, one in Luxembourg and one in front of the UN headquarters in New York. Since 2022, Geneva has had a replica to match its international peace work.

09. Ariana Museum

This is one of Geneva’s museums, now specialising in ceramics and glass. The construction was originally financed by Gustave Revilliod, a wealthy sponsor who wanted to display his collections for the public. He bequeathed the museum and its park to the city of Geneva in 1890. It was in the park that the city decided to build the headquarters of the League of Nations in 1929.

10. Villa La Grange

The remains of a Gallo-Roman villa have been identified on this large estate on the shores of Lake Geneva, proof of the site’s longstanding appeal. The present villa dates from the 18th century and is still furnished in the taste of the time. The estate was given to the city of Geneva in 1917. It was in the library that Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin met in 2021.

To be informed of upcoming articles, register here (it’s free!).

Articles about Western Europe

To be informed of upcoming articles, register here (it’s free!).


  1. Saw most of these on a city break a few years back – but with a stroke of bad luck our visit coincided with the jet d’eau being shut down for maintenance. We found it an interesting city without being anything like the most exciting place we’ve visited….if you know what I mean.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. J’ai visité Genève plusieurs fois, je suis même venu y travailler une fois, mais je n’ai trouvé aucun accord sur le salaire. Maintenant, j’ai des amis à Bâle et à Rolle qui ont également visité. Merci pour les souvenirs de toujours. Salut

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It does seem a bit silly for the water jet to be Geneva’s most prominent landmark, but it looks pretty cool. It looks like Geneva has so much more to offer though in terms of museums, sculptures and other attractions. I haven’t been, but it’s on my list.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s