MuseumSaint Peter's Cathedral

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About the museum

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A cathedral is not an ordinary building. It symbolizes, in a space with a human dimension, the whole of the Universe and its fundamental laws. It is also an enlarged image of man. Thus, between the Man and the Universe, the Cathedral makes it possible to connect the infinitely small and the infinitely great, the Earth and the Sky.

As its name indicates, this Cathedral is dedicated to Saint-Pierre. She was, moreover, destined to collect her relics. But the first traces of a cathedral in these places go back to the 4th century already. After various churches, the construction of the present Roman-Gothic building begins in the middle of the 12th century, with the first Prince-Bishop of Geneva, Arducius de Faucigny. It ends about a century later. This building impresses from various points of view. Its architecture first, or its furniture, some elements date from the 15th. By its stained glass windows, which were replaced in the nineteenth and are identical to those of the Renaissance exhibited at the Museum of Art and History. Or by its capitals, which form the largest Roman-Gothic ensemble in Switzerland. These artistic and mystical works reflect the thought and spirituality of an era. The supernatural and the everyday life coexist and interpenetrate then in a mysterious alchemy. But it would have been necessary to add the painted decoration destroyed by the iconoclasts at the time of the passage from Geneva to the Reformation. For this Cathedral is also the symbol of the radiance of Protestant Rome.

Indeed, from June 1535, the Mass was abolished in Geneva. The Cathedral is assigned to the reformed worship. It then takes the name of Temple of Saint-Pierre, which remains its official name even today. The place is extremely stripped. It thus corresponds to the original spirit of Calvinist spirituality, turned towards listening to the word and not to the image.

Throughout the centuries, however, the Cathedral was more than a place of worship. In particular, it performed civil functions - even becoming the Temple of Laws during the Geneva Revolution. Even today, it receives the oath of the government of the Republic. But St. Peter's Cathedral is above all a living illustration of the influence that Geneva had on the Protestant world as a place of refuge as well as an academy forming the pastors of all Europe.

As for the first masses celebrated in Geneva since the Reformation, they began six years before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1679 in the chapel of the Resident. At the time, Louis XIV was already fighting against the Reformed. It was not until 1801 that Geneva, then a Frenchman, joined the Diocese of Chambéry. In 1803, the Catholics emancipated themselves from the chapel of the Resident, and the mass is then celebrated in the church of Saint-Germain.

After the defeat of Napoleon, Geneva joined Switzerland in 1814, and the city of Calvin, perhaps without regaining the influence of the sixteenth century, continued its journey in an ecumenical, secular and interreligious spirit towards its future of light.

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  • Cour Saint-Pierre
    Genève, Switzerland
  • Today:
    09:00 - 17:00
    10:00 - 17:30
    10:00 - 17:30
    10:00 - 17:30
    10:00 - 17:30
    10:00 - 17:30
    10:00 - 17:30
    12:00 - 17:30
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