Recently, I had the unbelievable opportunity to travel to Geneva, Switzerland! I was BEYOND excited and could not wait to go! Geneva definitely did not disappoint! From gorgeous architecture to stunning lake views and beautiful flowers, I couldn’t figure out where to point the camera next! The answer to that question? EVERYWHERE! Point the camera everywhere!! So I did point the camera literally everywhere! Because of that, this will be a two-part post! 😉
Geneva is located on the western point of Lake Geneva and has a high French influence. The French Alps provide a gorgeous backdrop and Mont Blanc can be seen in the distance. It is home to the European Headquarters of the United Nations as well as the original Red Cross Building. A city of roughly 200,000 people, Geneva is focused on the international economy and is home to approximately 20 international organizations. The people of Geneva are extremely friendly and their love for their city definitely shows!
Geneva is known for its gorgeous scenery, high-end watches, chocolate and Swiss Army Knives (among other things). During my visit, I had the amazing opportunity to experience why Geneva is known for these things and I definitely want to share them with you! If these things don’t make you put Geneva, Switzerland on your bucket list immediately, I don’t know what will!
These are my Favorite Things to Do in Geneva, Switzerland: Part 1!
The United Nations and Broken Chair Monument
The Palais des Nations has housed the European Headquarters of the United Nations since 1966. It has about 2,800 offices, 34 conference rooms and holds over 8,000 meetings of nations every year. Some sections are open to the public such as the Large Assembly Hall which is larger than the Paris Opera House!!
As I stood looking at the magnificent grounds of the UN, I was reminded that Switzerland is known for peace. Ironically, I felt that exact emotion as I was looking at the grandeur of the building with the colorful display of the nations’ flags out front. It has a very calming effect and it is a site you don’t want to miss!
The Broken Chair monument is located right across the street from the United Nations. It is a wooden sculpture by the Swiss artist Daniel Berset and was constructed by carpenter Louise Genève.
Made out of 5.5 tons of wood standing 39 feet high, the monument was erected as an appeal to all nations to sign the Ottawa Treaty in opposition to landmines and cluster bombs. This is represented by the chair having 3 intact legs and the 4th leg broken off half way up. It is a very interesting and creative monument!
The Original Red Cross Building
A visit to the Original Red Cross Building is a must! The Red Cross actually has two accepted symbols: the inverted Swiss flag known as the “Red Cross” and then the “Red Crescent”. There were some that wanted it separated from any one country as well as those that wanted it separated from the Christian symbol of the cross.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement which was founded to protect human life and health, ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering. They have over 97 million staff, members, and volunteers worldwide!
You can tour the museum which is broken into 3 sections: Defending Human Dignity, Restoring Family Links and Reducing Natural Risks. You can go through 150 years of humanitarian history and track Red Cross and Red Crescent operations all over the world!
Right before you enter the museum, you come upon a group of life-sized statues by Swiss artist, Carl Bucher, called The Petrified. It represents the faceless victims of human rights violations.
I went behind the statues to try to “immerse” myself in the emotion of the monument. The life-size of the statues contributed to a very sobering effect on me.
Walk Along Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva is a gorgeous lake! It is formed by the Rhône River which enters it from the east end between Villeneuve, Switzerland and Saint-Gingolph, France, and leaves it at the west end through the city of Geneva. The lake’s absolutely beautiful color is a result of its glacier-fed waters mixing with the deep blue waters of the river. Isn’t it stunning??
It has surprisingly clear waters too!
This is the Light House we found while exploring along the lake! I love its unique character and personality!
La Jonction is the point where the Rhône and Arve Rivers meet. The rivers have different colored waters that don’t truly mix which is a natural and unique phenomenon. The Arve River moves very rapidly, stirring up its white sand which causes its milky appearance. The Rhône River is coming from Lake Geneva and is much slower and darker in color. Isn’t that amazing??
The Jet d’Eau
The Jet d’Eau or Water Jet is one of Geneva’s most famous symbols. It was once an occasional pressure release for hydro-power generation for Swiss shops (such as watchmaking, chocolate and jewelry shops). When the shops were closed for the weekend, a valve designed to relieve the over-pressure by letting water escape was released and this created a 30m (98 feet) jet towards the sky.
In 1951, new waterworks were built to use the lake which increased the jet’s reach to 140m (459 feet)! This makes the Jet d’Eau the tallest fountain in the world! The water speed is 200km/hr (124 mph) and it produces 500 liters (132 gallons) per second!
Some of the beautiful views we had while we were walking out to the Jet. See the lighthouse in the background from earlier? 😉
This is where the jet originates and what it looks like before it’s turned on at 9am every morning. The jet is looked after by five retired volunteers who have to keep a close eye on it because if the temperature drops too low or the wind changes directions, the jet must be turned off. An example is, if the wind blows a certain direction, it starts misting the streets, office and apartment buildings and therefore must be turned off. How wild is that??
At precisely 9am every morning, the jet is turned on by pushing this very unassuming button! Our group actually got to turn it on that day for the city of Geneva! 🙂
Once we turned it on and it got going, this beautiful rainbow appeared!
The Flower Clock
L’horloge fluerie (meaning The Flower Clock) was created in 1955 to pay tribute to its watchmaking tradition as Geneva is known for being the mother of high-end watchmaking. L’horloge fleurie has a diameter of 5 meters (16 feet) and was the largest of its kind in the world until 2005. The look of the clock changes throughout the year due to the type of flowers planted for different growing seasons. For me, it was the most natural thing to see because the flowers in Switzerland are fabulously gorgeous!!!
Discover Old Town Geneva
Walking around Old Town, we found the cutest streets and cafes…
along with charming little bookstores…
and interesting objects like this canon with the pretty and colorful mosaics behind it. This canon is one in a series of canons called Old Arsenal. The mosaics portray Caesar’s arrival in the city in 58 BC.
You might even discover a little history linking to your home state! Amanda was ahead of me and I heard her say, “Heather you’re going to like this!” I came around the corner to find this! A building in Geneva with Alabama on it! Amanda and I are both from Alabama so we thought this was pretty cool!
This is the famous Alabama Room where the first Geneva Convention was adopted in 1864 and from which the International Red Cross would emerge. The Alabama Room is housed in the Town Hall which is located in the center of Old Town. The Town Hall is the political heart of the city and the seat of government for the Canton of Geneva.
The Alabama Room hosted an arbitration tribunal that ended a conflict between the United States and Great Britain following the American Civil War. The conflict was over attacks and damages done to Union merchant ships by Confederate Navy commerce raiders that were built in British shipyards during the war. The claims focused on the most famous raider, the CSS Alabama. Therefore, it was named the Alabama Room!
While I was standing there wondering what the story was linking my home state to this beautiful Swiss city, I couldn’t help but wonder if my Dad’s hometown of Geneva, Alabama had a connection with Geneva, Switzerland! I mean, there had to be one, right?? Well, of course, there is!
Geneva County, Alabama was created by the Alabama legislature on December 26, 1868. The county was named for its town and county seat of the same name. The town of Geneva was named for Geneva, Switzerland by Walter H. Youge. He served as the first postmaster of Geneva, Alabama and was a native of Switzerland! Of course, I had to get a photo with this building all while feeling the warm and fuzzies of my discovery! 🙂
Sit on the World’s Longest Wooden Bench
Built in 1767 and running 120 meters (394 feet) long, Marronnier de la Treille is the world’s longest wooden bench. Located just south of Old Town in the Promenade de la Treille, the bench runs the entire length of the Promenade and is so long I couldn’t photograph the entire thing at once! What you see in these photos is only around half of the bench. It runs the same length or longer in the other direction too!!
Have a Picnic
It was a gorgeous day and what’s better after a morning of touring than a picnic in the park? Grab some yummy eats from Migros, and a blanket and relax in the lush grass to take in all the beauty that Geneva has to offer!
Are you starting to see why I love Geneva so much?
I hope so because this was just Part 1! Be sure to catch my Favorite Things To Do In Geneva, Switzerland: Part 2! It includes some really cool activities you won’t want to miss and will definitely want to put on your bucket list!
‘Til next time…