Geneva, Switzerland Overview

According to militarynous, Geneva, French Genève [ ʒ ə nε ː v], is the capital of the Swiss canton of Geneva, m at the outlet of the Rhône from Lake Geneva, 375 above sea level, with (2018) 201 800 residents (agglomeration 597,100 residents), the second largest city Switzerland.

Geneva is the seat of numerous international organizations, including the European Center of the UN and various sub-organizations such as the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Environmental Academy, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), church organizations (World Council of Churches and Lutheran World Federation); The CERN research center is located north-west of Geneva in Meyrin.

As the spiritual center of French-speaking Switzerland, Geneva has a university (1559 by J. Calvin founded as an academy, university since 1873; Numerous institutes and higher education institutions are integrated, including Interpreting School, Institute for the History of the Reformation, Institute for International Studies). There is also the University of Applied Sciences in Western Switzerland, the Batelle Institute for Applied Research, Conservatory, art schools (the École d’Arts Visuels, founded in the 18th century, is the oldest art school in Switzerland), engineering and watchmaking schools; State archive, libraries (including the UN library), theater, observatory, botanical garden and many museums: Art and History Museum, Ethnographic Museum, Collection Baur (Chinese and Japanese art), Museum Barbier-Mueller (ethnology), Natural History Museum, watchmaker – and enamel museum, Museum of the Reformation (opened in 2005) and others;

Geneva is an important banking, trade (with fairs and exhibitions, including the annual International Motor Show), traffic and tourism center as well as an international congress and conference venue. After London, Geneva is the second largest trading center for oil in Europe; Together with Singapore, Houston and New York, the two cities are among the most important transshipment centers in the world. The industry particularly includes mechanical engineering, the manufacture of clocks (since the 16th century; promoted by Huguenots in the 17th century and spread over the Jura, today specializing in the high-price segment) and precision equipment, clothing, food and luxury goods industries, graphic trade (numerous Publishers), chemical and pharmaceutical industries.


In the center of the old town is the Saint-Pierre Cathedral (begun around 1160, completed in 1232), a three-aisled basilica with excellent architectural sculptures, especially the late Romanesque to early Gothic capitals. The Maccabees Chapel on the south aisle is the first example of the Flamboyant style in Geneva. The column portico (1752–56) was made by B. Alfieri. From the previous building, a room with floor mosaic and wall painting was uncovered (between the 4th and 6th centuries). A second early Christian cathedral with a baptistery was found under the Temple d’Auditoire (present-day form 15th century), in which Calvin preached.

Other churches in the old town are the Temple de la Madeleine (14th / 15th century), on the site of several previous buildings (excavations accessible), and Saint-Germain (1460, previous buildings since the 5th century). On the northern edge of the old town is the oldest Protestant church, the Temple de la Fusterie (1713–15). Across the Rhône is Saint-Gervais, built from 1435 to before 1446 over various previous buildings, with a Romanesque crypt.

An important secular building in the old town is the town hall, a complex that has grown over several construction periods (since the 15th century). Among the numerous town houses, especially those from the 15th to 18th centuries Century, the Maison Tavel (after 1334) is the oldest. The Collège Saint-Antoine (1558–62) is the old academy of J. Calvin.

The demolition of the city walls (19th century) made it possible to expand the city and create promenades and quays; The Rath Museum (1824/25), Conservatory (1857/58) and Theater (1874–79) are located on Place Neuve, the University (1869–72) and the Reformation Monument (1909–17) on the Promenade des Bastions. In the north of the city are the Palais des Nations (1929–37) and others. UN building. The “Jet d’eau” water fountain in Lake Geneva has become the city’s landmark.

Today’s cityscape is strongly influenced by buildings of modern architecture. In 1928/29 the residential and commercial building “Les Tilleuls” (La Rotonde) was built around an open courtyard according to plans by M. Braillard. In 1930–32, Le Corbusier created the “Maison Clarté” (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2016) on Rue Adrien Lachenal as the first steel-framed building in Geneva. In 1961/62 A. Bugna and G. Candilis built the “French Primary School” in the Villereuse district. The iron structure of the “Pavillon du Désarmement” developed in 1931/32 by A. Guyonnet and L. Perrin. The building for the World Health Organization with facades made of prefabricated elements was created in 1966 by J. Tschumi and P. Bonnard. The airport buildings (1968) are the work of J. Camoletti and J. Ellenberger. A team of architects led by Peter Böcklin and Predrag Petrović built the “Théâtre pour Enfants” from 1988–92, the first and only theater in Switzerland exclusively reserved for children and young people. In 1994 the MAMCO (Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain) was opened, which was created after converting a former factory building. In 2003 the Musée Bodmer, designed according to plans by M. Botta, opened in neighboring Cologny.


Geneva’s origins go back to the capital of the Celtic Allobrogs, Genava, mentioned by Caesar, as well as a Roman settlement that arose in Caesarian times. At the end of the 4th century Geneva became an episcopal city, 443–61 it was the seat of the Burgundian kings. After the conquest by the Franks (534) Geneva came to the Frankish Empire. When it fell into disrepair, it became part of the new Kingdom of Burgundy (Hochburgund) in 887. In 1124 the bishops were finally able to prevail in the struggle for the city regiment against the Counts of Genevois (until 1534). From the economic upward development of the city testified in the 14./15. Century the Geneva fairs. The city allied itself in 1526 with Freiburg and Bern against the constant takeover attempts of Savoy.

The long-standing opposition between the bourgeoisie and the episcopal city lords favored the advancement of the Reformation, supported by Bern through the dispatch of G. Farel. When the bishop left the city, Freiburg withdrew from the alliance. Together with Bernese troops, Geneva defended itself against an attack by Savoy in 1536. From 1536 J. Calvin worked in the city, which he made the stronghold of the Reformed Confession (“Protestant Rome”). Geneva countered the constant threat from Savoy through an alliance with Zurich and Bern (1584, “Eternal Alliance”).

In the 17th / 18th In the 19th century, the citizens opposed the government, which was becoming increasingly aristocratic despite the republican constitution, in several uprisings. The 18th century saw a boom not only in reformed banking, but also in intellectual life and the arts. The controversy over the city constitution came to an end in 1791 under the influence of the French Revolution with the establishment of a revolutionary government (based on the French model). In 1798 France annexed Geneva and made it the capital of the Département du Léman. With the end of French rule, Geneva joined the Confederation in 1814 (Geneva). It became the seat of the ICRC in 1864; 1920–46 it was the seat of the League of Nations.

Geneva, Switzerland Overview