Geneva Reformation Sights

Our Day in Geneva 

On our second full day in Switzerland we headed to Geneva. Geneva was vastly different than the city of Bern. This section of Switzerland neighbors France and French is widely spoken in this area of the country. It is very obvious that French architecture and style had has a great influence on this city. Walking through the cobblestone streets we felt like we were getting a small glimpse into what France may be like. 

When most people think of Geneva they probably think of financial districts, the United Nations, the Geneva Convention, etc. But for us, we were excited to see the historical landmarks of the Protestant Reformation and John Calvin in Geneva. Nathan and I love to learn about Church History and, although we are not Calvinists ourselves, it was so neat to see landmarks related to such an important historical figure. Unfortunately our day in Geneva was very rainy and cold, which made taking pictures a little difficult and ultimately caused us to head back to Bern earlier than anticipated. Luckily we were able to squeeze in all the most important sights we were hoping to see. 

View from the Tower of the St. Pierre Cathedral

View from the Tower of the St. Pierre Cathedral

A (very) Brief History on John Calvin in Geneva 

The onset of the Protestant Reformation is typically accredited to Martin Luther in October of 1517 when he wrote his Ninety-Five Theses in Germany. Although there had been many critics of the Roman Catholic Church before, during the early 16th century the Protestant Reformation caught on like wildfire. This reformation came just a few decades after the invention of the printing press and Gutenberg Bible. Now, the Bible was more readily available and people were able to think and theologize for themselves rather than depend on a pope. 

Around 1530 John Calvin had a religious conversion and left the Roman Catholic church. After moving between Basel, Switzerland and Paris, France and spending some time in hiding, John Calvin finally landed in the city of Geneva in Switzerland. John Calvin spent a majority of his life in Geneva working towards reforming the church. John Calvin is best remembered for his theology on predestination, and his encounters with Michael Servetus and the eventual execution of Michael Servetus in Geneva. 

An easy way to remember the doctrine of Calvinism is the acronym: TULIP 

T: “Total Depravity” 

U: “Unconditional Election” 

L: “Limited Atonement” 

I: “Irresistible Grace” 

P: “Perseverance of the Saints” 

French Bible at the St. Pierre Cathedral

French Bible at the St. Pierre Cathedral

Reformation Sights in Geneva 

Reformation Trail/ Walking Tour

Geneva has a great FREE “walking tour” of the top reformation sights in the city. In the old town of Geneva there are signs and maps along the street that tell you about certain sights, and direct you to the next sight. If you follow these signs you will have all of your bases covered in seeing the top Reformation Sights of Geneva. Unfortunately the weather was just not working with us this day and we did not get to follow that trail completely. 

Trying not to completely freeze on the Reformation Trail

Trying not to completely freeze on the Reformation Trail

The St. Pierre Cathedral 

The St. Pierre Cathedral is where John Calvin preached for many years. The entrance to the Cathedral is free and if you would like to climb up the towers it is CHF 5 per person. I highly recommend visiting this cathedral, it is just breathtaking. The towers do offer a great view of the city. But, fair warning it is a steep climb up some narrow stairs and the day we went was also freezing. If the weather is good, I’m sure you would have a much better trip up the tower. 


The Reformation Museum 

Situated next to the St. Pierre Cathedral is the Reformation Museum. This museum does not just cover Calvinism but the entire Protestant Reformation, it even includes great information on American church history and the Great Awakening. This was a great museum with a ton of great artifacts and information. With our Swiss Travel Pass this museum was free. If you do not have a Swiss Travel Pass it is CHF 13 per person. 

The famous portrait of Martin Luther

The famous portrait of Martin Luther

Nathan in his element

Nathan in his element


Merrie Rodriguez

Creator of the Merriement Blog