La Cathédrale Saint-Pierre

An emblematic image of Geneva and a symbol of the influence of “Protestant Rome” overlooking the old town, Saint-Pierre Cathedral houses archaeological treasures dating from prehistoric times through to the Middle Ages.

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La Cathédrale Saint-Pierre

The first phase of the cathedral’s construction dates back to 1160 and lasted for almost a century. Restored and rebuilt on numerous occasions, in particular following fires, it now blends Romanesque, Gothic and Neoclassical styles. 

With the Reformation, the cathedral was emptied of any ornament in the mid-16th century. The painted decorations were erased and only the stained glass was spared.

Its medieval facade was replaced by the current Neoclassical facade in the mid-18th century.

An exceptional view from the towers

Saint-Pierre cathedral soars high above the cobbled old town. Some 157 steps lead to the top of the north tower, offering stunning views over the city and the lake. In very fine weather, you can even see Mont Blanc.

The Nocturnes of Saint-Pierre

On certain evenings when the moon is full, the Cathedral offers the public access to the towers to admire the panorama, between 9pm and 11.30pm.

Archaeological site

The archaeological site of the cathedral is exceptionally rich. It is one of the most significant sites north of the Alps. The visit begins in the 3rd century B.C. and finishes with the construction of the current cathedral in the 12th century.

Hidden under Saint-Pierre cathedral are the ruins of previous churches. The earliest date back to the end of the 4th century.

Saint-Pierre Cathedral has been rebuilt and renovated on numerous occasions, in particular after being ravaged by fire. Today, it is a blend of Romanesque, Gothic and Neoclassical styles.

Bells and carillon

The largest of the nine bells was hoisted into the north tower in 1407. It is called "La Clémence" and weighs six tonnes.

For many years, the twenty or so bells of Geneva Cathedral's carillon have been playing popular tunes to mark the days of the people of Geneva.

The cathedral in figures

  • 157 steps lead up to the top of the north tower;
  • 9 bells have been hoisted up to the bell tower over the years with the largest of them, “La Clémence”, weighing in at no less than 6 tonnes;
  • 360° view over the entire city and the lake. On fine days, you can even see Mont Blanc;
  • 1160 was the year in which the first phase of construction began on the cathedral.

Activities

  • Visit to the archaeological site: boasting a wealth of finds, it is one of the most important sites north of the Alps. The visit begins in the 3rd century and finishes with the construction of the current cathedral in the 12th century.
  • Cathedral concerts: organ recitals, carillons and grands concerts – consult the programme on the Les concerts de la Cathédrale website.
  • Admire the panorama from the top of the north tower during the Nocturnes de Saint-Pierre festival
  • Find out everything about the bells: for true enthusiasts, the website zedden.ch archives recordings of carillons from the cathedral.

Article modifié le 08.08.2023 à 16:39