I love old towns, and usually do not miss one while visiting a city. Geneva’s Old Town, was no exception. It is an ancient maze of small streets and picturesque squares, filled with homey cafés, restaurants and historical sights but you can get lost easily. I climbed to the place though the narrow allies from the Geneva opera side, and took the stairs to geneva shopping street, but you can do the opposite too…
It is one of the largest in Europe and catalogues the town’s 2,000 years of history in its many unusual art galleries, antique shops, museums, fountains and other sights. True charm can only be savoured if you walk around.
In the very center of Geneva’s Old Town is Bourg-de-Four Square, a must-visit square, the oldest place in Geneva, where the Roman marketplace used to trade its wares. Now a touristy locale full of exclusive shopping opportunities and the great place to have a cuppa.
Founded in the 4th century, St Pierre cathedral is an extremely important historical site, both architecturally and ecclesiastically. It is one of few cathedrals to feature the unusual neo-classical design, with iconic pillars that make it stand out from other European churches. It is also the site of numerous archaeological excavations, revealing some artifacts that are as old as the Roman empire. With regards to its importance within the history of Christianity, John Calvin, one of the principal figures in the foundation of Protestantism, spent much time preaching between its walls. Inside, travelers can still find a wooden chair that the man himself used.
You can go up to the tower for a panoramic view, but I would not really recommend it. It is very lonely in non tourist season and some red-green weird signal are there in the top which I did not like at all. It was scary and I thought I have wasted my 5frank,
Musée ariana or Musée suisse de la céramique et du verre (Swiss Museum of Ceramics and Glass) is one of the many muséums in geneva. I read about it,but did not think to visit , because there are many other prominent attractions in the city. I was walking to the United nations from the tram station for tram12 . It is quite a bit walk from the broken chair. On the way, I saw this beautiful building, and decided to have a short tour. I am happy that I did, because it is a beautiful museum with fascinating displays , and all for free.
The museum is in avenue de la Paix 10, 1202 Genève, Switzerland, and opens from Tuesday to Sunday 10-6 pm.
Located far from the city centre of Geneva, in the background of snowy alps , the 385 Route de Meyrin 1217 is the pilgrimage centre for physics students . Not only the largest laboratory for Particle Physics, CERN is also the birth place of Internet. So, even you are not a physics nerd, if you just reading this in internet, you should visit CERN while in Geneva 😉
From Gare Cornivan, take tram 18 to CERN which is the last stoppage. At CERN, the physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. They use the fundamental particles made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature. The tour is strictly guided except to the Globe of science & innovation and Microcosm.
In Microcosm, meet Large Hadron Collider and the people who build and operate this extraordinary machine. The journey starts from the path of the particles from a bottle of Hydrogen, through the network of accelerators and on to collision inside vast experiments.
The large Hadron collider magnets operate at 1.9 degrees above absolute zero. That is a 36000 tonnes of equipment- equivalent to 5 Eiffel tower- that needs cooling to 300 degree below room temperature. Large Hadron collider is world’s biggest fridge!! The initial cool down is made by 10000 tones of liquid nitrogen. The system is then further cooled using 800000 litres of superfluid Helium that circle in a supply line around the 27 km ring.
Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before the beams are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.Millions of Gigabytes data is generated each year in CERN and saved in their state of the art server systems.
I found the room of Harry Potter on the way out of Microcosm 😉 I bet the physics nerds are interesting 😀
Anyway, after Microcosm we went to the guided tour to Synchrocyclotron, the first accelerator of CERN. By the way, there is a small souvenir shop outside the Microcosm near the reception, you can small gifts from there. I brought a coffee mug bearing the symbol of CERN for my physics nerd hubby 🙂
The 600 MeV Synchrocyclotron (SC), built in 1957, was CERN’s first accelerator. It provided beams for CERN’s first experiments in particle and nuclear physics. In 1964, this machine started to concentrate on nuclear physics alone, leaving particle physics to the newer and more powerful Proton Synchrotron.
The SC became a remarkably long-lived machine. In 1967, it started supplying beams for a dedicated radioactive-ion-beam facility called ISOLDE, which still carries out research ranging from pure nuclear physics to astrophysics and medical physics. In 1990, ISOLDE was transferred to the Proton Synchrotron Booster, and the SC closed down after 33 years of service. Here they arrange a small film just in front of the machine, which will tell you about the magnificent journey .
After this, we went to the ATLAS virtual visit.The ATLAS Experiment is designed to explore the inner universe. Five thousand physicists from about 180 institutions in 38 countries around the world participate in ATLAS. When the LHC is in operation, up to 600 million protons collide every second inside the detector. Our guide took us for a short explanatory film about ATLAS , and he explained the work flow from outside the control room, and get answers to our questions. After that we went for the globe visit.
The globe shows the planets and with audio guides you can listen to the vivid explanation. Remember, CERN visit takes almost a day , so carry water bottle and light snacks. Heavy luggages are not allowed in the premises.
Visit CERN, meet the physicists and engineers probing the fundamental structure of the universe…
Of course you cannot miss CERN while visiting Geneva. Take tram 18 from Gare Cornivan to reach CERN by half an hour. But to visit the accelerator and having a guided tour by the eminent researchers of CERN, you need to book a prior appointment. It is all free and you can take as many pictures you want, but do not take it for granted. It is very difficult to get an appointment !!
2. Free boat ride over Lake Geneva and evening walk around the lake…
With the transport card provided by your hostel/ hotel, boat rides are complementary from Paquis. You can have nice views of the mountains from the lake and also visit the Jet d’eau , the famous fountain. Unfortunately, when I visited Geneva the fountain was not working, but I loved the view of the lake. A bike ride or walk around the lake is best way to spend your evening in Geneva. Below is the view of lac léman from my hostel window>
3. Visit Musee d’art et d’historie ..
Geneva being a pretty expensive city, it is good to visit some museums free of cost. If you are on budget, these are certainly a treat for you. One such museum is the museum of art & history.
The museum of art and history is one of the best museum of geneva with a number of interesting displays. Hop on to bus 7 to visit the museum , to take a journey back in history. The entry is absolutely free for permanent exhibitions. Few world famous paintings are displayed in the art section in the 2nd floor , including ‘the miraculous draught of fishes’ by Konard Vitz.
Just beside the United nations building, Musée Ariana is a beautiful museum with colourful display of ceramic and glasses and unique architecture. You take tram 12 and then walk towards the united nations , you see this beautiful building on right hand side. More details are coming in the post Musée Ariana.
5. Indulge in the Italian culture in Carouge
District of Carouge,, referred as small Italy by many locales, used to be a separate town until 1816. It is now a city district of Geneva, known mainly for its old town – “Le Vieux Carouge”with it’s specific old French-Italian architecture. Carouge is located behind the Arve river. Trams 12& 18 take you to the town from Gare Cornivan. Carouge’s unique architecture is an expression of its Sardinian heritage, a pattern of magnificent historical streets with warm and cosy cafes, bistros and antique shops.
6.Visit the old town
I love old towns. I took a wrong tram and had to walk quite a bit in a rainy day, but then a nice lady told me the route and I climbed 25 meters to reach Geneva’s Old Town, ‘an ancient maze of small streets and picturesque squares, filled with homey cafés, restaurants, galleries, museums and historical sights’. Apart from famous St. Peter’s Cathedral, Maison Tavel and the Old Arsenal located in front, Place du Bourg-de-Four are the places you must visit .
7.Visit the St Pierre Cathedral
St Pierre Cathedral is the oldest church in Geneva. It is located in the center of Geneva’s Old Town, slightly on the hill overseeing the city, combining various architectural styles from Gothic to Ancient, as it was being rebuilt over the centuries. Since 16th century Cathedral belongs the Reformed Church. Though the church entry is free, but North and South Towers are available for visitors for a 5CHF bill, but I don’t really recommend it if you are alone or have some health issues, mostly the tower is very lonely and the stairs are narrow, above it is spooky with red and green lights telling you when to climb or when not to.
8. The broken chair
When you are travelling to United nations, the tram15 drops you in front of this historical work of Swiss artist Daniel Berset, constructed by the carpenter Louis Genève.
It is a symbol of humanity which symbolises opposition to land mines and cluster bombs, and acts as a reminder to politicians and others visiting Geneva.
The flower clock is one of the most visited spot in Geneva, however I saw it from Bus every time and don’t have a good photo of it.
10.Reformation wall : It is another famous historical landmark in Geneva I missed in this visit. But it is good to leave see something behind, so that you can always go back 🙂
The first thing I did in Geneva is to take a free boat tour in lake Geneva. But that is not the first time I saw her beauty. The lake is as beautiful in Lausanne as in Geneva, but you can experience a totally mesmerising view from SBB trains while travelling in the French part of Switzerland. Anyway, if you are staying in a hostel or hotel in Geneva , you will get a free transport card which includes the boat rides, so walk to the shore & get on a boat 🙂
However, if you are in a closed boat, you cannot see the mountains properly. I went to the Geneva Plage from Paquis by boat and from Geneva plage I took few snaps of the lake. Lac léman is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe and the largest on the course of the Rhône flowing through Switzerland, in cantons of Vaud, Geneva, and Valais and France,in Haute-Savoie.Mary Shelley holidayed by the lake and wrote ghost stories, one of which became the basis for the novel Frankenstein.
After spending some time by the lake I took bus 2 from geneva plage to go to random destinations, then took another bus and then another. I usually do that when I get a free transport pass. I take the bus map and randomly take one bus or tram to another. Many of the busses run half circling the lake, providing view of the lake at different time of the day.
I came back to geneva plage at around 7 pm and it was dark. I thought I would take a boat back to Paquis , so I went to the ferry place. I asked one passer by, he said it will come but even after 10 minutes there was no boat coming and I was standing completely alone to the place. Few people passed by in bike but basically the place was dark with one light timidly illuminating only the ticket counter, no sound except the wind and no sign of any boat except those standing in the dock. Suddenly I got scared, because no one on earth knows that I am here in this particular place and if something happens to me, none will have a clue. I ran back to the bus stop which is little far and took a bus back to Gare cornivan and walked back to my hostel from there 😛
Musée d’Art et d’Histoire is one of the prominent museum of Geneva with more than 23000 objects in collection. It is also the largest art gallery in the city of Geneva situated near the Old Town . Thematically categorized and separated collections are displayed in an area of 7,000 square meters. As a solo traveller and first timer in Geneva, the museum hit my to do list because of my interest in Art and having a free entry 🙂
The city map collected from the hostel helped me a lot to move around geneva city. You should take bus 7 because it has a stop in the name of the museum.The museum open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10-6 pm , permanent exhibitions have free admission..
The museum is divided into 5 levels and level 0 has the reception where you will get the guidebook of the museum. At level 0 is the applied arts and temporary exhibitions . The armoury room displays arms from the late middle ages to the 18th century and presents artefacts from the Escalade episode of 1602 when the duke of Savoy attempted to seize the city of Geneva.
In the same level, the historic rooms immerse the viewer in a lifelike reconstitution of the past, illustrating the 20th Century predilection for presenting furniture and artwork in their original context.
The 1st floor gallery contains the election of 800 musical instruments and silverware collection from 18-19th century. However , when I visited the 1st floor gallery was closed due to the transfer of some collection to a new place. So, I directly headed towards level 2 which displays the fine arts. The most famous paining and the centre piece of the museum is ‘ The miraculous draught of fishes(1444) by Konard Witz.
Monographic groups of first rate importance by Genevan and Swiss artists-leotard, Hodler, Valloton or those who has a special links to Geneva-Corot, Bram van Velde, also punctuate the display.
The museum has the largest Egyptian antiquities collection is Switzerland. It is kept in the Level 1 in archaeology section. Here also kept are the Italiote funerary vases collection from the Greek colonies of Southern Italy and Roman sculpted portraits.
Geneva being one of the expensive cities in Europe, it is quite a treat to visit a museum like this for free. I left at around 5 o’clock, as I was alone , it was raining and my legs were aching from trying to see the whole museum in 3 hours. If you are interested in history and arts, it is a sure stop for you while visiting geneva. The museum do have a nice cafeteria if you want to spend a day here exploring the past.