Geneva, a city characterised by exchange

Located at the heart of Europe, Geneva is traditionally a place where goods have been traded and ideas exchanged.


Genève était, dès l'origine, un lieu-clé du commerce fluvial.

More than 3,000 years ago, a city chose its destiny. Lying at the crossroads of the great lines of communication between the Mediterranean and northern Europe, Geneva was to become a city characterised by the exchange of ideas and goods.  


The first reference to Geneva – or Genua in Latin (and subsequently Genava) – dates back to 58 BCE from no less a hand than Julius Caesar in De Bello Gallico, his commentaries on the Gallic War.

Measures conducive to trade

In 1387, the Bishop of Geneva, Adhémar Fabri, granted his fellow citizens municipal franchises. By doing so, he gave them the right to administer their city and facilitated trade by authorising them to charge interest on loans, despite this being severely criticised by the Church.

An economic hub

Before embodying a major spiritual movement during the 16th century, Geneva quickly gained international renown as a burgeoning commercial hub. Reaching their peak towards the middle of the 16th century, the fairs held within its walls cemented the city’s strategic role in the economic circuits of the time. Mirroring this rise in trade, the banking sector also enjoyed significant development during this period.

Protestant Rome

And then came the Reformation: Jean Calvin was called to Geneva to make it a city living in accordance with the Gospel. His genius would make the city famous, earning it the sobriquet of Protestant Rome. As a legislator in a theocracy, Calvin was called on to adjudicate on political, economic and administrative matters, his intellectual influence extending to every sphere.

Article modifié le 25.09.2020 à 17:05