Geneva: History and Tradition

Geneva's history stretches back two thousand years. First mentioned in Julius Caesar's Commentary on the Gallic War, the city came first under Roman rule, and was later dominated by the Burgundians and Franks, before becoming an independent bishopric in the middle ages. With the arrival of John Calvin, the city embraced the Protestant reformation and became a major centre for the spread of Calvinism across Europe. Its economic fabric steadily diversified, with the development of the clock and watch making industry and banking. Several attempts were made to overthrow the aristocratic government, but these were not successful until the French Revolution. After some 20 years spent under the hegemony of Napoleonic France, the ancien regime was partially restored. Against a background of industrialization, the revolution led by James Fazy in 1848 profoundly transformed Geneva. The 20th century saw the establishment of new international organizations, which contributed to the City's international reputation.



GE history


Tradition – The Escalade

Every year on the weekend around 12 December, Geneva organizes the Escalade Festival. This is the traditional commemoration of the defeat of the Savoyard troops, who attacked Geneva on 12 December 1602. Children sing the song "Ce qu'e laino", whose words, in old Genevan dialect, tell of the events of 1602. In fancy dress, they go from café to café while members of the "Company of 1602" patrol on horseback in traditional costume, complete with pikes and lances. The climax of the weekend is the torchlit procession, where more than 1000 people, wearing period costumes, parade through the dark streets of the city, ending up in the cathedral square for a bonfire.

Read more… (only available in French)


GE history


Culinary tradition

Geneva is recognized as a world-class gastronomic centre. Seven of the finest restaurants in the city and the surrounding Canton of Geneva were awarded one or two stars in the 2008 Michelin Guide and up to 19 points in the Gault-Millau Guide.

But Geneva also has a long culinary tradition which is well worth discovering. Do try "Omble Chevalier", a delicious, refined dish made with Arctic Char from Lake Geneva.

Omble chevalier à la genevoise


Print recipe (77 KB) (only available in French)


Traditional products

  • Pear rissoles (rzulé)
  • Longeole sausage
  • Geneva cardoon
  • Chèvre mousseux (frothy cider drink)

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