ATTRACTIONS IN GENEVA
The Swiss city of Geneva is home to some 200,000 people, and in spite of its small size relative to others, is considered a global city thanks to its financial services sector and due to the fact that it’s a worldwide center for diplomacy. It’s home to many United Nations agencies, as well as the international headquarters of the Red Cross. Here are some of the best tourist attractions to visit in Geneva.
Patek Philippe is a world-famous Swiss watch manufacturer, so it’s fitting that this illustrious company that’s over half a millennium old has its very own museum in Geneva. It’s fascinating to visit – it features the oldest watch in the world, as well as an antique collection that’s stunning to behold. In fact, there are over 2,000 exhibits on show. Its galleries also show the step-by-step process and evolution of how Patek Philippe watches are made. Last but not least, you can also see some of the company’s master watchmakers at work.
The Palace of Nations, as it’s called in English, was founded in 1938 and has hosted thousands of intergovernmental meetings ever since. It’s the second most important United Nations office on Earth after the supranational body’s New York headquarters. Be sure to take the guided tour so that you take in all of its main landmarks, which include the Council Chamber and Assembly Hall.
The botanical gardens of Geneva can be found on the western shore of the city’s lake, and contain over 14,000 plant species from all over the world. There’s an almost endless array of flowerbeds, ponds and rose garden to explore, with the herbarium housing over six million plant specimens alone. There’s even an on-site zoo for you to take in.
A popular spot for both tourists and locals alike, the Bains des Paquis are located on the western shore of Lake Geneva. People flock here to wallow in the public baths, exercise or relax on the pier or beach. The area is mostly frequented during the summer, but there are a sauna and hammam on hand for hardy winter swimmers to warm up in. In addition, it plays host to numerous cultural events such as classical music recitals and local festivals, all of which add to its intoxicating atmosphere.
Geneva’s Natural History Museum opened in 1996 and houses a fine collection that houses everything from taxidermy, to insect specimens, to moon rocks and fossils. It’s very well laid-out, and this makes it an excellent place to visit if you have a young family. One of the museum’s star attractions is Janus, a living, two-headed tortoise that has managed to defy biological norms by living for over 20 years to date.
Towering some 4,500 feet over Geneva, Mont Saleve appears to be impenetrable from below, but you can actually get to its summit by hiking, biking or driving. Another option is to take the cable car, which will take you to the top in no time at all. When you’re there, you can take in spectacular views of the city below you, as well as of the Jura Mountains and Mont Blanc off in the distance. There are also activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking and paragliding to enjoy.
St. Peter’s Cathedral was constructed between 1160 and 1252 in an architectural style that’s largely Gothic. With that being said, it features a Neo-Classical façade that was added in the 18th century. Interesting to note is the fact that the cathedral was constructed on the site of a 4th-century basilica. Its roof boasts distant views of the Alps, and its interior is unassuming and undecorated in comparison to many cathedrals and churches.
The historic center of Geneva is full of beautiful old buildings, labyrinthine streets and picturesque squares. Wandering around it is a delightful experience, and there are galleries, museums, historically-significant building, and atmospheric cafes to take in. Bourg-de-Four square, which used to be a Roman marketplace, is an absolute must-visit.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research is a fascinating place where loads of cutting-edge scientific experiments are conducted every day. It features the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, which you can tour. The particle accelerator is a particular highlight, as is the museum, which details the history of the organization and what it has achieved in the time since it opened.
The Jet d'Eau is a world-famous fountain that spurts 500 liters of water per second into the air. It's one of Geneva's most iconic attractions and has become a symbol of the city over the years. It's accessible from a small stone jetty, but prepare to get wet if you get too close to it! It's located at the spot where Lake Geneva joins the Rhone river.
Clancy's comment: It is worth visiting.