SWITZERLAND : LAUSANNE
is a city in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, situated roughly
midway along the northern shore of Lac Léman, as Lake Geneva is known
outside the canton of Genève. It is the capital of the canton of Vaud
and of the district of Lausanne.. The elegant small resort cities of
Montreux and Vevey are to the east, separated from Lausanne by the
Lavaux Corniche coastal road with its vineyards and wine villages.
France is just 35 minutes across the lake by boat, and the mountains of
Haute Savoie are clearly visible on a sunny day. The headquarters of the
International Olympic Committee and Philip Morris International are both
located in Lausanne.
Already in neolithic times there was a settlement in what is now
the upper town of
Geneva. Later, the
Romans built a military camp, which they called Lousanna, at the site of
a Celtic settlement, near the lake where currently are Vidy and Ouchy;
on the hill above was a fort called 'Lausodunon' or 'Lousodunon'. After
the fall of the Empire, insecurity forced the transfer of Lausanne to
its current center, a hilly, easier to defend site.
The first Christian bishop arrived here shortly
before 700 AD. The first important cathedral was built about 200 years
city which grew from the ancient Roman camp was ruled by the Dukes of
Savoy and the Bishop of Lausanne, and then by Berne from 1536 to 1798.
In 1803, it became the capital of a newly formed Swiss canton, Vaud. One
most significant historical event in Lausanne was the Reformation, which
arrived in 1529 with a sermon by Guillaume Farel. By 1536, Lausanne had
largely swapped Catholicism for Calvinism, and both the city and its
canton have been Protestant ever since.
The most important geographical feature of the area surrounding Lausanne
is Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French). Lausanne is built on the southern
slope of the Swiss plateau, with a difference in elevation of about 500
meters between the lakeshore at Ouchy and its northern edge bordering Le
Mont sur Lausanne. Lausanne boasts a dramatic panorama over the lake.
The city of
Lausanne is built on three hills. Since the climb from the lakeside
resort area of Ouchy to the Haute Ville, or Upper Town was quite steep,
the original Métro connecting Ouchy to Lausanne's main railway station
and the Flon nightlife district had to be a funicular and, later, a
In addition to its generally southward-sloping layout, the center of the
city is the site of an ancient river Flon, which had dried up in ancient
times. The former river forms a gorge running through the middle of the
city south of the old city centre, generally following the course of the
present Rue Centrale, with several bridges crossing the depression to
connect the adjacent neighborhoods.
Today's old town dates back to medieval times. The Château
St-Maire, or Castle, was built from 1397 to 1426, and another prominent
feature of the old town, the
St-François Church, is about the same age as the Cathedral, which was
consecrated in 1275. The Hôtel de Ville, or town hall, came later; the
Renaissance building on the Place de la Palud was built in the 17th
Lausanne is located at the limit between the extensive wine-growing
regions of Lavaux (to the east) and la Côte (to the west).