Have you ever lived somewhere or visited someplace that just made you feel good and yet found it difficult to explain why? All you knew is that it’s a special place with lots to do and to see. The French have the perfect expression for this: Je ne sais quoi. Geneva is such a place. In addition to its many attractions, it is the lifestyle and the ambiance of the city that make it unique.
Geneva is the seat of numerous well-known international organizations as well as many major multinationals. The League of Nations Building with its Celestial Sphere, which was donated by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in 1939, immediately comes to mind. Over 20,000 visitors tour the “Palais des Nations” each year. The building was the seat of the League of Nations until 1946 when it was turned over to the United Nations. You’ll see monuments throughout the city. One of the most iconic pieces of 21st Century art is the “Broken Chair” which was installed at the Palais des Nations in 1997. It features a giant 40 foot tall chair with one leg mutilated by an explosion. It was designed in remembrance to the plight of landmine victims & to put an end to the use of cluster munitions.
A couple of other world-renowned organizations located in Geneva need to be mentioned. One is an organization we usually only think about during emergencies or crises. The Red Cross & Red Crescent, as the organization is called today, was founded by the Genevan Henri Dunant -the winner of the first Nobel Prize for Peace. The Red Cross symbol -reversing the colors of the Swiss flag- was adopted to reflect the neutrality of the services & protection offered by the organization.
Mention Antimatter, Higgs Boson or Large Hadron Collider and you’ll evoke a Pavlovian response in Physicists who will immediately know that you are talking about another organization based in Geneva. CERN founded in 1954 as a physics research laboratory to study & understand the inside of the atom has evolved to the study of the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces acting between them. The “Collider” lies in a 17 milelong tunnel under the French & Swiss border. Half of the world’s particle physicists come to CERN for their research. The center is also open to the public.
We’ll visit Geneva again in a future spotlight. We will tour Geneva’s Vieille Ville (Old Town), its parks & promenades and its many beaches. Perhaps we’ll cross the border for a quick visit to a couple of Genevan’s popular destinations.
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