Geneva, Switzerland

Panorama of Geneva and its lake: St. Peter's Cathedral can just be seen peeking over the modern buildings on the right. Photo © Sacred Destinations.

Geneva, the second-largest city in Switzerland after Zürich, is located in the Rhône Valley very close to the French border. The bustling modern city has a beautiful location - situated on an alpine lake within view of Mont Blanc - and many things to see, yet the city lacks the overall appeal (for this author, at least) of other major Swiss cities like Zurich, Bern and Lausanne.

Geneva has several sites of religious interest, most notably those associated with John Calvin, the Protestant Reformer second in importance only to Martin Luther. Calvin led the Reformation in Geneva for decades, preaching his doctrines in St. Peter's Cathedral and the Auditoire de Calvin. Geneva became famous as a model of an ideal Protestant city, and reformers from all over Europe came to Geneva to learn from Calvin and his colleagues. Geneva's role as the "Protestant Rome" is commemorated in its large Reformation Monument.

Although Geneva has been predominantly Protestant since the time of Calvin, the cosmopolitan city also embraces other places of worship, including a Russian Orthodox church, an Anglican church, two mosques and two synagogues. Geneva is also the headquarters of global organizations like the United Nations (European office), Red Cross and Red Crescent, the World Council of Churches, and the Lutheran World Federation.

Reformation Wall
This huge monument was constructed in 1917 to commemorate Geneva's significant role in the Reformation. It features an array of stone statues, bas-reliefs and inscriptions.
Geneva Cathedral Archaeological Site
Excavations beneath Geneva's cathedral have revealed Roman mosaics, several Early Christian churches and a medieval crypt. A catwalk leads visitors through the ancient ruins.
Holy Trinity Church
A 19th-century Anglican church with an English-speaking congregation.
Calvin's Oratory
In this Protestant lecture hall, John Knox preached from 1556 to 1559 and John Calvin founded a Christian academy in 1559.
Russian Church
Built in 1866 for the Russian Orthodox community of Geneva.
Grande Synagogue
This pink Moorish-style synagogue was built in 1859 for Geneva's Ashkenazi Jewish community.
Geneva Cathedral
In this historic cathedral you can see the pulpit from which John Calvin preached the Reformation, examine interesting carved capitals, and climb the tower for spectacular views.