Monday, August 12, 2013

Geneva, Switzerland

Genève, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, is the second largest city after Zürich.  The populaiton is only around 194,500 but the larger metro area is home to about 780,000 people.

It is a global city and hosts the world's largest number of international organizations including the United Nations, Red Cross, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, and World Meteorological Organization.

Geneva used to be an independent republic from the 16th century until the end of the Napoleonic Wars when in 1815 it became part of Switzerland.

The most well known landmark is the Jet d'Eau.  This 140 meter (~460 foot) high water fountain was originally an occasional pressure release for a nearby hydraulic plant.  It was so popular that in 1891 the city made it a permanent fountain.

The flower clock was created in 1955 as a nod to the city's clock makers.  Until 2005, it was the world's largest flower clock.  Around 6500 flowers are used and the decorations are changed with the changing of each season.

The Brunswick Monument was built in the 1873.  It is a mausoleum for the Duke of Brunswick who left his fortune to the city in exchange for a monument to be named after him.

The Russian Orthodox church was built on the remains of a 16th century Benedictine priory.  Construction began in 1863 and it was consecrated in 1866.  Today it serves Orthodox Russians, Bulgarians and Serbs.

The Smurfs Buildings were built between 1982 and 1984.  Three architects were inspired by Gaudi's work in Barcelona and came up with the apartment buildings here.

The St. Pierre Cathedral is in the Old Town.  The main structure dates back to the 12th century.  The claim to fame is that this was the adopted home church of John Calvin, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation.

There are three distinct styles as the two square towers don't match and there's also a bright green spire.

The Reformation Wall is the International Monument to the Reformation.  It was built in 1909 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Calvin's birth.

The Reformation Wall
Broken Chair is 12 meters (39 feet) high and made out of 5.5 tons of wood.  It symbolizes opposition to land mines and cluster bombs.  Originally it was meant to be a 3-month display in support of the 1997 Ottawa Treaty.  The piece is across the street from the UN so that visiting politicians who failed to sign the treaty are reminded of it.

Geneva is a really lovely city with lots of great parks.  Like the rest of Switzerland it is extremely clean.  If only it weren't so dang pricey.  Geneva regularly ranks among the top five most expensive cities in the world.

I'm not a big fan of McDonald's.  But Krasimir wanted it for lunch one day.  Two McBaguette value meals with medium fries and medium drinks was CHF 26.20 ($28.39).  Ouch!

One place where you can save money is on transportation.  The public transit system is awesome.  And as of 2008, Swiss law requires all city hotels and hostels to provide a free transit pass for every day of your visit.  The city even provides for free transportation between the airport and the city center.

Overall we had an awesome weekend away.

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