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Holding a place of pride in the heart of Lausanne's Old Town, this imposing Gothic cathedral soars over a sea of red-roofed buildings. Although the original master mason is undocumented, construction efforts can be traced back to the 12th Century. The structure was completed roughly a century later in 1275 under an engineer named Jean Cotereel. It was ordained by three important figures - Pope Gregory X, Rudolph of Habsburg, and Guillaume of Champvent, the then bishop of Lausanne. Its belfry a home to seven sonorant bells, the Lausanne Cathedral's other noteworthy features include an exceptional pipe organ and a stained glass window considered to be one of Europe's finest. Those in the city will also hear a town crier announcing the hours every night between 10p and 2a from the bell tower, as has been tradition since the Middle Ages. An architectural wonder par excellence, this historic cathedral comes alive with a repertoire of concerts and a bevy of cultural events.
The Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts is one of the most prestigious fine art galleries in the city of Lausanne; the cultural hub of Switzerland. The Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts exhibits the works of some of the best artists in the country, be it amateurs or established ones. There are various exhibitions and artistic events taking place here on a regular basis. If you're an avid art lover, then you will not want to miss out on the chance to see a Van Gogh or Picasso.
Charming public gardens, planted with exotic trees and shrubs and displaying bronze statues, lead you up to the museum. Once at the top, one can see the modern building is truly inspired by a Greek temple with its white marble facade. Two rows of white columns to the entrance carry the names of the towns that have hosted the Olympic games and the Olympic flame burns in an ornamental granite bowl illustrating the myth of Prometheus. The exhibition leads you through the history of the Olympic games, starting with Ancient Greece. There are beautifully preserved terracotta figures, gold laurel wreathes and marble sculptures to see. On display are all the torches that have been carried in every event since 1936 and a great collection of stamps, coins and medals bearing images of the Olympics. Huge video screens and stereo sound help the viewer to experience a part of the apprehension, excitement and concentration, the athlete encounters before an event.
Ouchy is a great place to relax with the whole family. Paddle by the water fountains, watch the boats leave the harbor or read a book along the shaded quays. There are daily trips across the lake by boat to Evian in France and a worthwhile visit can be made to the Olympic Museum, where you can wander around the gardens free of charge. The beautiful views of Lake Geneva and the Chablais mountains make it a perfect place for a Sunday stroll, but better still if you're on skates.
This large theater is a major center, well-equipped for conferences and exhibitions in Lausanne. The program is varied: regular recitals, musicals, ballet and opera are usually hosted here. Theater productions are also staged, often featuring world-renowned shows on tour. Visit Théâtre de Beaulieu to get your dose of enchanting performances.
The pride of Central Europe, and the largest water body in Switzerland, this crescent-shaped lake is lined with star-studded attractions around its shimmering shoreline that straddles both France and Switzerland. Also referred by the French as 'Léman', for 'large water', the Chablais and Bernese alps wrap the gleaming southern and eastern shores of the lake, a geographic bonus that ensures spellbinding views from every corner. The mesmerizing combination of lake and alpine scenery is more pronounced toward the eastern tip of the lake, between the communes of Vevey and Villeneuve. On the far northern shore, the sides of the mountain are delicately laced with a grove of trees, at the foothills of which idyllic towns and quaint villages lie nestled. Blessed with spectacular views of terraced vineyards that stripe the hills between Lausanne and Vevey, Lake Geneva also attracts a set of enthusiastic oenophiles every year. Under stark blue skies, Lake Geneva is at its resplendent best in the summertime, when Belle Epoque boats lazily ply the lake's shores, and annual regattas like Tour du Lac and yacht racing festivals take advantage of its scenic backdrop.
Deep in the recesses of the Sauvabelin forest lies a modern, wood-built tower which affords a breathtaking view of the rolling Jura Mountains and glistening Lake Léman. Measuring 35 meters (115 feet), the distinctive tower takes its name from the surrounding forest. Although it serves a spectacular purpose, the structure itself is eye-catching, and its spiral staircase was inspired by the helical architecture found at the Chateau de Chambord in France. Fashioned out of Douglas firs sourced from local forests, this tower and its supporting institutions are greatly inclined towards sustainable development and environmental consciousness, and strive to radiate the same principles to visitors.
Lavaux is a picturesque region along Lake Geneva declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sprawling over 830 hectares (2050 acres), it encompasses 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) of terraced vineyards that stretch from the Chateau de Chillon to the banks of the lake. The vineyards are said to have originated in the 11th Century, and produce the finest grape varieties. Take a hiking trail through the landscape and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps in a Mediterranean charm.
In the middle of a huge park, which stretches to the quay of Ouchy, is the Musée de l'Elysée. Located in a stunning 18th-century home, this museum is entirely dedicated to photography, showing either its own collection or as many as five visiting exhibitions simultaneously. The rooms on the ground floor are in themselves a worthwhile site as they are where the Council of State holds its receptions. Take note of the beautiful carpentry which creates an impressive exhibition space.
This quaint cobbled stone square is filled not only by the Town Hall but with the wonderfully colored buildings, each with its own window box of geraniums and pastel colored shutters. The square is home to the Fountain of Justice, whose basin dates from 1557 making it the city's oldest. The original Statue of Justice was made in 1585 but is now replaced by a copy. Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, a market is held on all surrounding pedestrian streets where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The overall atmosphere of the square is very laid back, making it a good place to relax in the outdoor cafés and restaurants.