Parc des Bastions is the largest historic park in the city centre. It is also the oldest, most majestic and busiest park. It provides the backdrop to some of the most popular events in the city’s life, including the Course de l’Escalade, school fêtes, the National Day celebrations and many more which are sometimes more low-key but just as popular nevertheless. A true chameleon, the park changes its colours and activities with the seasons, offering something for everyone.
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History and development
Following the plague epidemic that swept through southern France in 1720, the government of Geneva decided to develop a garden-cum-promenade at the bottom of la Treille in order to give the city’s inhabitants the chance to enjoy the fresh air while remaining confined within the fortifications. The site was called the “Belle promenade”; seeing and being seen while enjoying a stroll became a veritable pleasure. It was here, in 1817, that Augustin Pyrame de Candolle created Geneva's first true Botanical Garden.
After the decision was taken in 1849 to destroy the fortifications, the site was extended and redeveloped as a landscaped park. Home to the University of Geneva since 1872, it was here that the Reformation Wall, one of Geneva’s outstanding landmarks, was built in 1917. In 2017, the central promenade was entirely renovated, the dark tarmac being replaced by a permeable clay-limestone path giving the park a light, natural atmosphere.
An exceptional collection of trees
Some 140 trees scattered around the park carry plaques indicating their names. Boasting more than 200 different species, the park takes you on a tour of the world’s plants including Japanese maples, honey locusts, Atlas cedars, Caucasian wingnuts, Himalayan pines and European larch to name but a few. The 140 labelled trees are presented in detail in the free PARCS GENEVE app.
South-facing and protected from the north wind by the hill on which the old town is built, Parc des Bastions benefits from a highly favourable micro-climate. Its location means that rare and sometimes unique trees can be acclimatised and grown here, such as the ziziphus planted in 2017 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Geneva’s first Botanical Garden.
Giant chess boards
Bandstand (which has been turned into a restaurant)
Dogs are allowed on the paths if kept on a leash.
Located at the heart of a very densely built-up area, Parc des Bastions is a haven of greenery for the local population. For the indigenous flora and fauna, it is a refuge that illustrates how ecological riches and contemporary urban vitality can live together in harmony. The City’s parks and gardens are managed ecologically without any chemical products being used. Biodiversity is fostered in Parc des Bastions, in particular through nesting boxes and a patch of nettles where butterflies can reproduce.
Article modifié le 15.12.2021 à 15:09