Ligne 1 Geneva Old Town


Back to the past through the Old Town of Geneva

1. Dufour equestrian statue

Général Dufour equestrian statue. Born in 1787, Guillaume-Henri Dufour became commander-in-chief of the Swiss army, founded a military academy, modernised the country’s defences, reconstructed Geneva’s ports and quays, taught hydrology, geodes and geometry at the University, and set up geodetic and triangulation surveys to produce complete maps of Switzerland’s mountainous surface which are still usable. He became a member of the Committee of Five of the Red Cross and chaired the international meetings which approved of the first and second Geneva Conventions. 

2. The University of Geneva

The University of Geneva was built 1872 in the Parc des Bastions, formerly a botanic garden. It also houses the University public library. 

3. Le Mur des Réformateurs

Le Mur des Réformateurs, constructed in 1917 from granite and quartz, 100 metres long and 10 metres high, it was designed to commemorate the events and the men of the Christian religious reform movement. At its centre are statues of four men who played a key role: Farel, Calvin, Bèze and Knoz. 

4. Le Palais Eynard

Le Palais Eynard, built in 1821 in neo-Greek style. It was used as a cultural centre for meetings and lectures and still serves as a centre for the social life of the town. Today the reception rooms are used for social functions by the Council administration.

5. Palais de l'Athénée

Palais de l’Athénée, a palace in the classical style dating from 1863. It was used for meetings of the Arts Society and as an exhibition centre. 

6. Le Palais de Justice

Le Palais de Justice. Situated in la Place du Bourg-de-Four, an ancient Roman forum, and one of the liveliest centres of Genevan life today. This building was constructed between 1707 to 1712 over a former convent of the order of St. Clare. At the Reformation it became a hospital. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Geneva. In the first courtyard there is an attractive fountain from 1709. 

7. The Town Hall

The Town Hall dates from sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The oldest part, the Baudet Tower, the Baudet Tower, was constructed in 1455. In the courtyard, a square tower containing a paved ramp and ribbed vault leads to the upper floors. This ramp once enabled important officials to attend meeting on horseback or in a litter of sedan chair. The portal at the bottom of the ramp is in Renaissance style, and formerly served as an entrance to the Maison de Ville. On the ground floor there are several rooms one of which is called the ALABAMA room. There, on 22nd August 1864, the first Red Cross convention known as the Geneva Convention was signed. To the right of the entrance there is a stone bench where Genevan courts gave their verdicts and it is here that Jean-Jacques Rousseau was sentenced. 

8. Statue Pictet de Rochemont

Statue of Pictet de Rochemont. He was the Republic’s delegate at the Congress of Vienna in 1814. 

9. Bust of Henry Dunant

Bust of Henry-Dunant. Here formerly executions and torture took place. Red Cross founder Henry-Dunant was fiercely opposed to that system of legal death. His bust reminds us of the campaigns against the death penalty led by this great man. 

10. House of Saussure

Maison de Saussure. This building was constructed in the manner of a typical French town house overlooking a courtyard and garden. Everything down to the wrought iron of the banisters is in the same style. 

11. La Place Grand-Mézel

Place Grand-Mézel from the latin macellum; this word indicates that in the fourteenth century there were abattoirs here. A fountain dating from 1845 is the only ornament in the street. 

12. L'Hôtel Résident de France

Hôtel du Résident de France, 11 de la Grand’Rue. The architecture is in the Louis XIV style. 

13. Au n°9 de la rue Calvin

At 9 rue Calvin stands the house of the Jacques Necker family, a financier of German origin who was a citizen of Geneva when Louis XVI appointed him as his finance minister and made him a baron. This is probably the first town house built in Geneva with a courtyard and garden. On the first floor, the very beautiful Louis XVI room. 

14. House Calvin

La Maison Calvin. The modest residence that once stood at 11 rue Calvin bore no ressemblance to the old town-house which stands here today. 

15. La Cathédrale St-Pierre

St-Pierre Cathedral. The present building followed a succession of Roman sanctuaries, a small fourth century basilica and a large church built around 515. Construction of the Cathedral in Roman and Gothic styles began about 1160 and was virtually completed by 1232. The entrance facade dates from the eighteenth century and is neoclassical in style. Visits are possible to the archaeological site on the right of the main entrance (5 francs). It is also possible to climb to the top of one of the Cathedral’s towers where you can get a panoramic view over the whole of Geneva. 

16. House Tavel

Maison Tavel, the oldest private residence in Geneva, built on foundations dating from the ninth century and reconstructed in 1334 after a fire which destroyed nearly half of the town. It is characterised by its round tower, mullioned windows, frames, and sculptures including ten human and animal heads. A niche sculpted over a window on the ground floor depicts the Arms of the Tavel family, Genevan nobles who gave their name of this house. Inside, the tastefully restored rooms and cellars give a good indication of Genevan history from the 14th to the 19th century. This historic building houses the Museum of Old Geneva. 

17. Ancien Arsenal

Ancien Arsenal. This building with its vast archways dates from 1632 and for long served as an arsenal, hence its name. Today, it houses the archives of Geneva. Beneath the arches are five ancient canon which were taken to Vienna by the Austrians in 1814 but later returned to the Republic of Geneva. On the wall at the rear three mosaics depict, from left to right, the arrival of Julius Caesar in Geneva, markets in the fourteenth century and Protestant refugees being welcomed. 

18. Baudet Tower

Baudet Tower

19. Rath Museum

Musée Rath. Inaugurated in 1825, this was the first art gallery to be opened to the public in the whole of Switzerland. During the first World War, the International Committee of the Red Cross set up a records office here to register prisoners and send aid parcels and mail to them. 

20. La Rue de la Coraterie

There was a riding school with all the trades linked to horse breeding including the “Corratiers” who were horse dealers. During the fairs, the horse market was held in this street which was called “Carreria corrateriae equorum.”The name Corraterie can be applied to both brokerage proper and horse racing.

21. Le Grand-Théâtre

Grand-Théâtre, dating from the middle of the nineteenth century. Closed after a stage fire in 1951, the Grand.Théâtre reopened its doors in 1963 with its original facade fully restored. 

22. The Conservatory of music

The Conservatory of music, built in 1856 by the affluent music-loving Bartholoni family.