Discover Geneva and Swiss history through the lens of its hero, the General Guillaume HENRI Dufour
Dufour was the founder of the Red Cross committee, a brilliant engineer who imagined today Geneva lake-front, the general leading the Swiss army during our Civil War, and the creator of the first topographic map of Switzerland. Last but not least, he created the official current Swiss flag. He was a true Swiss hero and a symbol of national unity. Today, streets, boats and even the highest peak of the Swiss Alps are named after him.
WHEN? Tour starts at 3:00 pm every day except Mondays and Tuesdays (from August 10 onwards). No need to pre-book, just come at the meeting point around 5-10 minutes in advance.
WHERE? Meeting point is on Place de Neuve, the large square on the side of the old town hill. We will meet under the statue of G.H Dufour on his horse in the middle of the square.
HOW LONG? The tour will last from 2 to 2.5 hours
WHAT YOU WILL SEE?
We will visit Geneva through the personal history and accomplishments of General G.H. Dufour, a true Geneva and Swiss national hero. Not only was he a military who became known as the "Pacificator" during the Swiss civil war, but he was also a brilliant humanist, architect and politician. Among other things, we owe him the current Swiss national flag, the creation of the Red Cross committee and the first topographic map of Switzerland. If you go to the Swiss Alps, the highest peak in the country close to Zermatt is named after him (Pointe Dufour). Starting from the Place Neuve, we will see the role of Dufour as architect and city-planner in expanding the city outside the Medieval walls. We will look around at the Grand Theatre, the Parc des Bastions with the world-famous Reformation Wall as well as the outdoor chest plays. All those places are testimonials of the expansion of the city in the 19th century.. Then, we will head to his burial place in the Cimetière des Rois (the Cemetery of the Kings) where all famous Geneva figures rest. His grave is very simple and well-hidden. However it contains a great epitaph: "Helvet Dux" (Swiss Leader). Indeed he has a national figure when he died. The Parliament in Bern offered him a sword as a gift for his leadership during the civil war. Then we will go up in the Old Town to see the house where Dufour created the Red Cross Committee with other Swissmen. In his role as a military, he acted as a humanist who could not tolerate bloodsheds and lost of lives. When he led the Swiss federal army in the Civil War, he treated rebel opponents from central Cantons with care. Indeed he knew they would become Swiss citizens again. Then we will head to his house in Champel district, a place that few to no local residents know. There, you can see a Swiss flag that he codified in its current form and that he pushed to become the sole national flag in the army. Finally we will go back to the old town with a stop at the Russian orthodox church built on a former military wall. Finally we will stop at the renovated College Calvin, the oldest school in Geneva created by Calvin himself and where Dufour studied in his youth.
PRICE: The tour is free of charge. Feel free to tip as little or as big as you want ! On average, our guest gives 15 Euros (16 Swiss Francs).