Sometimes It Just Takes One

12 02 2014

It turns out that I had found the Cathedral in Old Town Geneva after all….I just didn’t know I had found it.  I’m not going to say that I was pacing around in front of the Cathedral last time, but I think that’s what was happening.  Maybe I expected a big sign saying, ‘this is the what you’re looking for – the Cathedral’ or maybe I was just too enamored by where all those narrow cobblestone streets would take me.

Nevertheless, I found Saint Peter’s Cathedral.

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Saint Peter’s Cathedral – Old Town Geneva

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As luck would have it, the organist was practicing, and I was treated to an almost empty cathedral full of the rich sounds of the organ.

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Built between approximately 1150 and 1230, Saint Peter’s Cathedral has Romanesque and Gothic features as well as a neoclassical monumental porch.  The Chapel of the Maccabees adjoins the cathedral and is the first example of flamboyant Gothicism in Geneva.

I almost left before I visited the Chapel of the Maccabees, but once I walked through the curtained doors, I knew I had to stay a while.  The room was full of color, from the light streaming through the artistic stained glass windows and the ornate ceiling and walls.  

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Saint Peter’s Cathedral has had a particular spiritual significance since 1536 when it became a major center of the Reformation under John Calvin.  It is now the most frequently visited building in Geneva.

I saw someone scan a barcode and gain entry into a door on the side and it peaked my curiosity.  What else could I see here?

For 5 francs I was able to walk up the narrow spiral staircases to climb to the North and South towers.  It was a workout and it definitely made me sweat and wheeze a little as I tried to climb the stairs faster than the group behind me.  For some reason I felt the need to gain a little distance so that I could take in the experience by myself.

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There is a passage leading from one tower to the other over the nave and under the structure of the metal steeple that houses the bells.

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I decided to head to the North Tower first and enjoy the panoramic view over Old Town, the harbor and (if they were visible that day) the mountains surrounding Geneva.

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The South Tower has a watch room at the top and I found myself at eye-level with the cathedral bells as they were chiming, along with great views of the water and the Jet d’Eau.  

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I spent almost three hours touring the Cathedral.  And I hear I had thought that I could just pass by and take a few photos and be satisfied.   It’s great to travel with company and share the experience with others, but it was a great opportunity to tour the Cathedral during the off-season, and tour it on my own, and to feel like I had it almost all to myself.

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