Like the swans that rollick on its Alpine lake, Geneva is indeed a rare bird. Consistently viewed as the capital of Switzerland (it isn’t), the second-largest city in Switzerland is cosmopolitan and slick, and its inhabitants chatter in virtually all languages among gold paved streets. Some friends of mine who run a company in Canada that does garage floor coating absolutely raved about their vacation to Geneva so I decided to check it out on my own. Here are the top must-see attractions in Geneva, Switzerland.
This lakeside fountain is the first impressive glimpse of Geneva visitors will see when landing by plane. The 140-meter tall structure pumps water with unbelievable force to create a sky-high plume. At every instance, about seven tones of water are usually in the air, much of which sprays onlookers on the beneath pier. 2 or 3 times every year, it’s illuminated blue, pink, or another color to mark a charitable occasion.
Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques
The premier botanical park in Geneva boasts more than 12,000 plant species from across the globe, precisely arranged in a wide variety of elegant themed gardens. Highlights here include a breathtaking rose collection and the Animal Park sheltering ancient indigenous species. The park is also home to some endangered animals and everyday sheep, goats, and chickens as well as more exotic deer, flamingos, and peacocks.
Wandering around the beautiful Old Town in Geneva is a must. The Grand-Rue, its main street houses the Maison de Rousseau, where Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an 18th-century philosopher was born. Close by, the part-Gothic, part-Romanesque Cathedrale St.Pierre is where John Calvin preached for many years. The Site Archeologique is beneath the cathedral; this interactive space safeguards a 5th-century baptismal font and fine 4th-century mosaics.
This cathedral is majorly Gothic with an eighteenth-century neoclassical façade. Protestant John Calvin preached in this cathedral between 1536 and 1564. There are 96 steps inside the cathedral spiraling up the northern tower, providing a spectacular glimpse at the architectural construction of the cathedral. From here, about 60 steps spiral to the southern tower, showing panoramic city vistas and close-up views of the cathedral’s bells. The Site Archeologique in the basement features an eerie tomb and 4th-century floor mosaics.
Quai du Mont-Blanc
Outdoor art exhibitions, statues, flowers and scenic views of Mont-Blanc abound on this charming northern lakeshore front, which starts from the Bains des Paquis to Parc de la Perle, a park where Romans constructed built elaborate thermal baths. The peacock-dotted Parc de l’Ariana lawns are further north and it ensnares the UN and the amazing Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques of Geneva.
Palais des Nations
Since 1966, the Palais des Nations has been home to the UN and was constructed between 1929 and 1936. Visits to this building are only by guided tour and include a 1-hour tour and entry to the 46-hectare park surrounding it, amply peppered with peacocks and century-old trees.