Genève médiévale II: atop the cathedral

Inscription above a doorway in the stairs up the tower of Geneva Cathedral

Inscription of unknown meaning spotted climbing the tower stairs

Apologies for the lately-renewed delay: I had promised to review a couple of volumes, the time has only lately become free to do so and it feels rather as if the first one is trying to kill me… But we soldier on, and so the slow progress through my backlog takes me to about this time last year, when for reasons I shan’t trouble you with I was in Geneva. You may remember that I mentioned being there before and gave you some photos of the subterranean archæological site at the cathedral; you may also remember that I had to get most of those on my second visit, because of camera battery death on the first. On the second, however, we also went up the tower, and so this is just a gratuitous photo post for some of the pictures that got me.

Timber structures inside the roof of the westwork of Geneva Cathedral

Inside the roof space of the westwork, between the towers, a photo taken through sturdy wire fencing

As you can see in this picture (not mine), the cathedral has three towers, one central and very Gothic and the other two both taller and blockier. If you pay to get into the tower, you go up stairs in the westwork and surface just where the central tower emerges from the roof, through which you are then channeled off to one side. Thereafter, one goes round one of the square towers then up and then round again. At all points, therefore, one is given tremendous views of the city…

The Lac de Genève and bits of the city, viewed from low down the tower of Geneva Cathedral

The Lac de Genève and bits of the city, viewed from low down the tower

… and frustratingly awkward perspectives on the actual building!

Apse of the cathedral and bits of Geneva seen from the tower of the former

Apse of the cathedral and bits of Geneva

Nave and dome of Geneva Cathedral seen from one of its towers

Nave, dome and some pre-Alps the Jura mountains in the distance

A cross-shaped ornament on the tower of Geneva Cathedral, seen from inside

View of the city rudely interrupted by cruciform ornamentation

Of course, one is moving through architecture at all points anyway…

Capitals and columns in the west front off Geneva Cathedral, seen from inside one of its towers

Capitals and columns fenced off from the viewer, and presumably on the west front

External tower-ornaments to one of the towers of Geneva Cathedral, seen from on the tower

Passing through some of the exterior pointy bits

Humanoid grotesque from inside the tower of Geneva Cathedral

A long-term occupant determined to remain oblivious to the visitors

… but it was hard for me to make it all join up.

Maquette of Geneva Cathedral in one of its towers, photographed through glass

This potentially helpful maquette was sadly locked behind glass through which the sunlight made it almost impossible to see; the camera has done better than I could

And of course the other problem is a more literal one of perspective: one is so close to it all that one needs a lens angle that my old camera simply didn’t permit. The result is me attempting things like this:

Pinnacle of the central tower of Geneva Cathedral


Central structure of the central tower of Geneva Cathedral

… middle…

Junction of the central tower of Geneva Cathedral and the roof of the cathedral's westwork

… and junction with the roof of the west-work, the other square tower barely visible beyond

I do complain, but obviously it’s marvellous, and well worth the climb and Euros francs. Hopefully you get something out of the photos without having to undertake the labour!

2 responses to “Genève médiévale II: atop the cathedral

  1. Two small but niggly details; the photo entitled ‘Nave, dome and some pre-Alps’ is actually taken facing towards the Jura mountain range (the Alps would be 180 degrees behind you at this point), and secondly we use the Swiss Franc (CHF) in Geneva, not the Euro.

  2. Um, thankyou. How on earth did I make that latter mistake? I still have a handful of Swiss francs in the drawer from this trip. The geographical correction is gratefully accepted as well, but I feel the latter one was quite stupid and can only apologise!

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