The lakeshore’s premier attraction is the spectacular water fountain, stunning tourists as it fires 140 metres into the sky. Formerly a simple security valve at the Coulouvrenière hydraulic factory, the Jet d’Eau has since become one of Geneva’s major landmarks. A million air bubbles will enthral and enchant watching visitors. A fortuitous creation, the fountain came about in 1886, when a hydraulic power station was built to deliver water under pressure from the Rhône to the city’s fountains, households and factories. One evening, pressure build-ups forced the engineers to install a special pressure relief valve. From here, the Jet d’Eau was born and this accidental work of art became a tourist attraction and was soon moved closer to the lakeside. As time has passed, the water column scaled new heights. Since 1951, an autonomous pumping station has been propelling some 500 litres of water per second to a height of 140 metres at a speed of 200 km/h (124 mph).
At its highest point Old Town’s towers offer a breath-taking panorama. Additionally its vaults are home to the largest archaeological site north of the Alps. St Peter’s Cathedral, built in the 12th century, underwent vital transformations in the 16th century. The first walls were erected around 1160 with work continuing for almost a century. During the Reformation of 1535, the Cathedral became home to Protestant worshippers. Visitors impervious to heights and willing to climb the 157 steps of the north tower are rewarded with an incredible view of the city and the lake. Remember to enjoy the archaeological site below the Cathedral and appreciate its treasures dating back to Antiquity.
Stood alongside the city’s ancient barricades, the Reformation Wall keeps watch over the Parc des Bastions. Just stone’s throws from the Place de Neuve in an exceptionally beautiful park, Europe’s most important Protestant reformers are honoured with magnificent statues and sculptures. The Reformation Wall in the Parc des Bastions is an imposing monument. The major reformers are portrayed with giant statues and bas-reliefs. Featuring Jean Calvin, Guillaume Farel, Théodore de Bèze and John Knox. At the sides are those who carried the Reformation across Europe. Geneva’s maxim ‘Post Tenebras Lux’ (light after darkness) is engraved into the wall after it became the motto of the Reformation movement. The park welcomes you to the Place de Neuve with its buildings dedicated to art and culture positioned at its entrance.
The Palais des Nations, constructed between 1929 and 1936, is the European headquarters of the United Nations. A centre of world diplomacy it welcomes over 25,000 delegates every year. Open to visitors daily, the building houses an array of great artworks, on display in its many rooms. The result of an international architectural competition, the Palais des Nations was purpose built to house the League of Nations in Geneva. The League was based at the Palais from 1936 until its dissolution at the end of the Second World War, when 51 countries came together to form the United Nations (UNO). The city of Geneva welcomed the UNO, with the Palais becoming its European seat and to this day remains its second largest centre, behind only the UNO headquarters in New York. As large as the Palace of Versailles, the Palais des Nations is home to many works of art, and since 2009 home to the magnificent ‘Human Rights and Alliance for Civilisation Room’ with its ceiling mural donated by the Spanish government and painted by the artist Miquel Barcelò.
Home to the Museum for Contemporary Art (MAMCO) since 1994, the Bains District is at the forefront of innovation and experimentation in European art. The last two decades have seen the district transform into an area renowned for both its cultural influence and nightlife, culminating in the umissable ‘La nuit des Bains’, three times a year. The many galleries and exhibitions of the Bains District bring modern art into the very heart of Geneva. ‘La nuit des Bains’ sees the Districts’ fifteen galleries and four cultural institutions open simultaneously for public viewings in March, May and September. Set amongst numerous fashionable bistros and home to the famous SIP disco, a converted industrial building, the Bains District is the ideal destination for a cultured outing or a late-night frenzy.
An ancient market town and former province of Sardinia, Carouge is Geneva with a Bohemian touch. Offering “la dolce vita” with Mediterranean styled architecture, Carouge is the Greenwich Village of Geneva. Here you can whilst away hours wandering streets lined with bistros, boutiques and galleries or savour the lively ambience across its verdant squares. Set across the River Arve, the architecture of Carouge reflects its Sardinian heritage and its shaded terraces bring about an air of the Mediterranean. Relax in the company of artisans, antique dealers and artists or spend an evening with Geneva’s in-crowd at any one of Carouge’s fashionable bars.
Geneva has a longstanding tradition of watchmaking and is home to the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FFH). Established in 2005 by the Richemont Group, Audemars Piguet and Girard Perregaux, the FFH is a beacon for fine watchmaking across the world. Offering an initiation to fine watching, the FHH invites you to partake in one of its three-hour workshops that will to acquaint you with the foundations of horlogerie, by assembling and dismantling a simple watch mechanism. Taking place in the historic “Palais de l’Athénée”, only a passion for watches and watchmaking is required and the workshops are open to amateur and professional enthusiasts alike.
A rambler’s paradise, Geneva’s local mountain, the Salève is a natural environment, within which you can unwind, enjoy various sports and access easily by cable car Travel only a small distance from the city centre and you will find yourself at the top of the mountain. Witness a simply breath-taking view over the Lake Geneva region and discover the nature and relaxation of the mountain. There is a selection of pathways for ramblers and many activities for children. The mountain is the perfect playground for sporty types who want to try their hand at rock-climbing, mountain biking and paragliding in the summer sun, or snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter months.