Geneva Stories and Tips

Global Organisations

Geneva - Red Cross Photo, Geneva, Switzerland

Undoubtedly the one thing that sets Geneva apart from other destinations is that it is home to numerous important global organisations. Therefore, I felt that my stay in the city would not be complete without visiting a couple of the unique and potentially fascinating sights that are connected to such places.

Probably the most noteworthy of the pair is the International Red Cross & Red Crescent Museum. It is located on a hill overlooking the centre, right next to the headquarters of the famous humanitarian institution that the erstwhile pre-eminent local citizen and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Dunant established during the 19th century. As the name suggests, the award winning attraction is dedicated to detailing the past and present work undertaken by his incredible legacy, and does so in style with well-presented and thought provoking exhibits. Although the nature of the subject matter means that viewing the displays of the terrible effects of wars and natural disasters inside the modern building is certainly a disturbing although compelling experience, it is also somewhat uplifting to learn about the good acts that some people do to alleviate the suffering of others.

Nearby are the various European offices of the United Nations, many of which are simply quite nondescript workplaces for the thousands of bureaucrats that are resident in the area, and will be of little interest to tourists. However, the Palace of Nations is a more striking and intriguing affair that was originally built to house the long defunct League of Nations in the period between the two world wars. The view of the building down an avenue that is lined with the flags of all member countries is definitely eye-catching, and those who are sufficiently motivated can additionally explore the interior and learn more about what happens there on an hour long tour, which surprisingly involves going through passport control to enter what is actually international territory rather than Switzerland. The information provided by the multilingual guides may be rather dull to some visitors, but for me the chance to spend time in a place where so many important historical events have occurred was intriguing. Meanwhile, it should be easy for anybody to appreciate the lavish décor of some of the rooms, especially the Council Chamber, which features some truly epic murals.

There are also a couple of other notable things to see in the area, including a massive sculpture of a chair that is missing a leg, which is a strangely poignant memorial to the victims of landmines that was erected to mark the banning of those horribly indiscriminate weapons. In addition, the Ariana Museum contains a wide range of valuable porcelain and glass, and even those who are not particularly inspired by such items might still enjoy visiting it, because the grand building that is home to the collection is fabulous both inside and out.

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