The Old Town, or Vieille Ville, on the Left Bank, is dominated by the Cathédrale de St. Pierre, cour Saint-Pierre (tel. 022/319-71-90; www.saintpierre-geneve.ch), which was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and partially reconstructed in the 15th century. Recent excavations have disclosed that a Christian sanctuary was here as early as A.D. 400. In 1536 the people of Geneva gathered in the cloister of St. Pierre's and voted to make the cathedral Protestant. The church, which has been heavily renovated over the years, has a modern organ with 6,000 pipes. The northern tower was reconstructed at the end of the 19th century, with a metal steeple erected between the two stone towers. If you don't mind the 145 steps, you can climb to the top of the north tower for a panoramic view of the city, its lake, the Alps, and the Jura Mountains.
To enter the St. Pierre archaeological site, called Site Archéologique de Saint-Pierre, go through the entrance in cour Saint-Pierre, at the right-hand corner of the cathedral steps. The underground passageway extends under the present cathedral and the High Gothic (early-15th-c.) Chapelle des Macchabées, which adjoins the southwestern corner of the church. The chapel was restored during World War II, after having been used as a storage room following the Reformation. Excavations of the chapel have revealed baptisteries, a crypt, the foundations of several cathedrals, the bishop's palace, 4th-century mosaics, sculptures, and geological strata.
The cathedral and the chapel are open June to September daily from 9:30am to 6:30pm; March to May and in October daily 9am to noon and 2 to 6pm; and November to February daily 10am to 5:30pm. There is no admission charge to visit the cathedral, although donations are welcome; tower admission is 4F. Sunday service is held in the cathedral at 10am, and an hour of organ music is presented on Saturday at 6pm from June to September. The archaeological site is open June to September daily from 11am to 5pm, and October to May Tuesday to Sunday from 2 to 5pm; the admission charge is 8F for adults, 4F for students and seniors. Take bus no. 2, 7, 12, or 36.
Next door to the cathedral is a Gothic church where Calvin preached, known as the Temple de l'Auditoire, or Calvin Auditorium. It was restored in 1959 in time for Calvin's 450th anniversary.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.