Geneva audio tour: Exploring the History of Geneva’s Old Town

Exploring the History of Geneva’s Old Town

Walking Tour

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40 mins
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0mi

About the Tour

Embark on a journey to bygone Geneva and discover how a small city left a surprisingly large footprint in the fields of ethics, politics, history and science. On this walking tour, we’ll take a stroll through the cobbled streets to hear stories that begin over 2,000 years ago, and others that take us to the present day. I’ll answer questions about who founded the city, what role the Celts and the Romans had in its formation, and who the Burgundians were.

Along the way you’ll learn about the Protestant Reformation, the Swiss Confederation, and the founding of the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions. You'll also hear about:

• The old marketplace
• The Holy Roman Empire
• The cathedral and its Chapel of the Maccabees
• Geneva’s oldest house, now a museum, and its oldest street
• Ancient stories behind the Arsenal’s mosaics
• Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the celebrated philosopher
• The invention of the US dollar
• How Switzerland came to be a neutral state

Come along and explore Geneva's beautiful, storied corners as you retrace its journey in becoming one of the world's smallest cities with global significance.

Tour Producer

avatar

Ariel Pierre Haemmerlé

My name is Ariel Peter Haemmerlé and I’m a certified Geneva tourist guide. A very diversified professional life has made me discover many aspects of our city. My last official job was to take care of the archives of the Geneva State Heritage Office. Only when I got retired – a good number of years ago – I really started to have time to work as a tourist guide. But since, Geneva Tourism and many other agencies call for my tours all the time.

Major Landmarks

  • The old marketplace Bourg-de-Four

  • Geneva Cathedral

  • Maccabee Chapel

  • Tavel House

  • The Arsenal

  • Town Hall

  • Parc “La Treille”

Directions to Starting Point

The tour starts at place Bourg-de-Four in the heart of the old town. To go there, you can climb up to the old town from anywhere.
If it is too steep, except on Sundays, you can take the little bus nr 36 from anywhere in the lower streets where tramline 12 and 17 and several buses pass. This small bus line runs in a circle, so from anywhere you take it, it passes at place Bourg-de-Four. You can also get off at “Museum d’Art & Histoire” and walk a few steps to the pace. The map on your phone will guide you.
Note: if you stay in a hotel, you will have received the "Geneva Transport Card" for free. It allows you to take all the public transportations as much as you want during your stay. This is offered by the State of Geneva.

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Tips

Places to stop along the way

The cafes and restaurants everywhere on the route.
There are public toilets at the starting point behind the Linden tree and next to the cathedral.

Best time of day

Any time, but best at daylight. The cathedral and museums only open at 10 AM.

Precautions

Geneva is a very safe place. Criminality rate is very low. However, use normal precautions against pickpockets. There are not many, but in case… And don’t hang around the rue de Berne late in the evening.

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Exploring the History of Geneva’s Old Town