Geneva, is the second most populated city in Switzerland, after Zürich, and the most populated in Romandy, the French speaking part of the country. Beautifully located where the Rhône exits Lake Geneva, the city is today a financial centre as well as the home of many international organisations including the United Nations and the Red Cross. Geneva regularly rates very high in Mercer surveys for quality of life, third in 2010 behind Vienna and Zürich, and is also one of the most expensive cities to live in.
Occupied originally by the Celtic Helvetti tribe, Geneva was taken by the Romans in 121BC and later converted to Christianity. Its closeness to the French border saw it constantly under threat from the French House of Savoy throughout the Middle Ages and as result saw the beginning of it’s fortifications. The rise and success of the theologian John Calvin, who moved to Geneva in 1536, saw Geneva become a centre of the reformation as the movement swept across Europe in the early 16th century. With its help, Geneva would escape the control of the French House of Savoy and ally itself to the Swiss Confederation, which had been formed several hundred years earlier in the 14thcentury, and eventually join the confederation in 1814. With the worldwide recognition of the neutrality of Switzerland the following year, Geneva became the seat of many international organisations, a position which it still hold to this very day.
The Jet d’Eau is the city’s most famous land mark and is used in much of the promotion of the city as well as Switzerland. It is located at the point where Lake Geneva empties in the Rhône river, and can seen from most parts of the city. 500 litres (130 US gal) of water per second are jetted to a height of 140m (460ft) by two pumps. The water exits at a speed of 200kph (120mph) and at any given moment there are 7000 litres (1800 US gal) of water in the air.
It was installed in 1886 a little further downstream, and originally served as safety valve for the hydraulic power network of the city. Its aesthetic value was recognised and in 1891 it was moved to its present location to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation.
L’Horloge fleurie (the Flower Clock)
Located in the Jardin Anglais (the English Garden), the clock was created in 1955 as a symbol of the city’s watchmakers, and a dedication to nature. Its second hand is the longest in the world at 2.5m (8.2ft). For many years it was the largest in the world with a diameter of 5m (16ft), until a larger one 16m (49ft) was created in Tehran, Iran in 2005.
The Reformation Wall
The wall honours many of the individuals, events and documents of the Reformation, a religious movement that begun in the early 16th century as a protest against the Roman Catholic church. The wall is located in the grounds of the University of Geneva, which was founded by the theologian John Calvin. It was inaugurated to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Calvin’s birth and the 350th anniversary of the foundation of the university. The four main figures of the memorial are William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza and John Knox, all of which are heavily link to the city and the reformation.