Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Day in Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne (pronounced "lo-ZANN") is about a 15-minute train ride west of Vevey. It is our closest large city.  It has a population of 127,821, making it the fifth largest city in Switzerland.  It is perched on a steep hill on the north side of Lake Geneva in southwest Switzerland. It is the capital of Canton Vaud and is French-speaking. There are 23 Cantons in Switzerland, each representing a different region.
Dubbed "Switzerland's San Francisco", Lausanne is characterized by steep cobbled streets, high-end shopping, numerous museums, galleries, cafés, clubs, parks, and two major universities. At the top of the old town is Lausanne Cathedral, the best-preserved Gothic cathedral in Switzerland, from which there is a magnificent view over the city to Lake Geneva.
There has been a settlement on the hill of Lausanne since the Stone Age, and the Roman camp Lausanna occupied a position just down the hill toward the lake. Relocated to the more defensible hilltop in the Dark Ages, Lausanne's wealth and importance increased due to its location on the primary trading routes between Italy and the North Sea. In 1538, the Bernese took the city from the Dukes of Savoy as part of their drive to secure their southwestern frontier. Lausanne finally gained its independence from Bern after the invasion of Napoleon’s army in 1798, and was admitted to Switzerland as the capital of Vaud in 1803.

We had a couple of Japanese girls take this picture.  I was talking to them as they were shooting.

The main reason for the trip was to find a Christening gown for little Janie. We will miss the baptism and this is the best way for us to be involved. Had to bring Jack 's "Duckie" for counsel. Do we pick the white or the ivory?

Thinking of Jane and her coloring-the ivory wins.

A shot from the outside of the boutique where the gown was discovered. Jane will care when she gets big!

The old town shopping district.  Rue de Bourg, the Fifth Avenue of Lausanne - home to the finest shops.

Saturday and Wednesday, you can expect to see all the produce outside next to the designer shops as well.

Another shot of Rue de Bourg - literally translated as  "The Street of the Town".

Rue de Bourg

This is the Fountain of Justice.  This work by Laurent and Jacques Perroud, was built between 1584 and 1585 and sports the symbols of justice with a young woman with bandaged eyes holding a sword and scales, perched on a column overhanging a pool.

Another shot of Rue de Bourg.

It is the political season in Switzerland so we cannot escape it even though out of the US. This is the Socialist Party of Switzerland working a Saturday shopping crowd.

Lausanne is a very hilly town, this shot taken while crossing the bridge to the Lausanne Cathedral.

This bridge that leads to the Cathedral, is named, Rue Du Grand-Point. (Literally translated as "The Street of the Grand Point")  You will notice that the railing on the bridge is designed to discourage suicidal people from leaping.  "While Switzerland seems to have it all, its mind-set can be conservative, the orderliness can be stifling and life here can be stressful or even depressing.  Switzerland has one of the highest suicide rates in Western Europe.  Between Christmas and New Years, social workers are stationed on this bridge with soup and coffee to counsel and comfort the distraught people, who congregate here, contemplating ending it all". Quoted from a travel book and very telling. 
As shoot from the hip Americans, the rigid "clinging to a rules based society" sometimes makes us a little crazy and we have to shake it off-we are only here for a year. 

The Lausanne Cathedral is generally considered Switzerland's finest Gothic building,

Construction on the cathedral began in 1175 and Pope Gregory X consecrated it in 1275. It was completed in, well, never - it still remains unfinished today.
Throughout the Middle Ages, pilgrims flocked to the cathedral to pray before the Golden Virgin, a miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary (to whom the cathedral is dedicated).
Lausanne was one of many medieval cities to institute a nightwatch to prevent the all-too-common threat of devastating fires. Although it is now mostly a city of stone, it was once made mostly of wood and burned down several times. Every night, watchmen stationed on the wall surrounding the town would call out to each other, ensuring that there were no fires and that no enemy was approaching.
Today, every hour on the hour, from 10pm to 2am, the watchman walks up the 153 stairs to the top of the tower, he calls out to the four directions: C'est le guet; il a sonné l'heure ("This is the nightwatch; the hour has struck"). Lausanne is the only city in Europe to continue this tradition.
In 1536, the combined forces of the Protestant Reformation and Bernese army stripped Lausanne Cathedral of virtually all its decoration, including altars, statues and paintings. The beloved Golden Virgin was melted down to make coins. Its treasury, a unique collection of liturgical vestments and tapestries, was taken over to Bern, where it is now preserved in a museum.

Inaugurated in 2003, this new organ is the only one of its kind in the world by virtue of its design, American manufacture by Fisk, Italian design by Giugiaro, its musical characteristics, French classical and symphonic styles, German baroque and romantic, and its dimensions, nearly 7,000 pipes, 40 tones and 150,000 hours of work to complete. 

A shot of the stain glass windows in the cathedral.

Catharina Zinoviev was married to Grigori Orlov, who was an eminent Russian aristocrat. They travelled throughout all Europe before Catharina became ill of consumption. They decided then to come to Switzerland where the air was supposed to be better for people with lung problems and where they could consult the famous Dr. Tissot. Unfortunately, she died of this illness in 1781; she was only 23. As it was very difficult to repatriate the corpse back to Russia at this time, it was decided to bury Catharina in Lausanne, in the Cathedral. The family Orlov left a legacy to the Cathedral for the maintenance of her tomb.

In the area behind the alter (the ambulatory) there were some extremely worn tombs of Bishops and Archbishops.  In addition, there was the obligatory crypt beneath the alter.

This marble urn is in memory of Sir Straford Canning’s wife, Harriet, who died in 1817 at the age of 27 during childbirth.  In 1815, he was instrumental in negotiating Swiss neutrality and a new Swiss federal constitution.

This Rose Window in the Lausanne Cathedral is generally considered to be one the masterpieces of European artistic heritage. Its panes depict the medieval view of the world arranged around the figure of God the creator.

The Window has survived from the 13th century.  The rose was a popular medieval representation of the universe and Lausanne's huge rose, 26 feet in diameter, contains images representing the four seasons, four elements, four winds, four rivers of paradise, the twelve labors of the months and the twelve signs of the zodiac.     
In medieval art, the cycle of the year was represented by the signs of the zodiac and the Labors of the Months or both paired together, as they are in this Rose Window.
The Labors of the Months  are some of the most interesting and charming images surviving from the Middle Ages, as they show regular folk from the local area at work and play.

These Gothic statues represent the afterlife of Mary- death, assumption and coronation of Mary.

Lausanne Castle (Chateau Saint-Maire):

This castle was built from 1397 to 1425 by the Bishops of Lausanne to serve as their fortified residence. Construction began under Guillaume of Menthonay, it was completed under his successor, Guillaume of Challant, and named after Saint Marius, the first Bishop of Lausanne. It served as the bishop's residence until 1536, when the Bernese captured Lausanne.  The Bernese installed a bailiff in the castle and used it as an armory. Upon the creation of the canton of Vaud in 1803, it became seat of the cantonal government, a role it retains today.

Statue of Major Davel:

In 1717 Major Jean Daniel Abraham Davel was appointed the commander of what is today the Canton Vaud region.  This includes the area such as Geneva, Lausanne and Vevey.  He identified with the French speaking population that felt oppressed by the German-speaking city of Bern that occupied Vaud. Davel believed that he had been called by God to free the inhabitants of Vaud from Bern. On 31 March 1723 he mobilized 600 men and marched on Lausanne to ask the city leaders to revolt with him. However, they reported him to Bern and arrested him the next morning. He was judged guilty of treason and beheaded.

Enough of the somber Lausanne. Off to the fun part of Lausanne down a very long residential lane. ...walking to Ouchy.

Ouchy (pronounced oo-shee) is a port and popular lakeside resort located just south of the city of Luasanne, at the edge of Lake Geneva. 
The incredible views of the lake, the Alps, the French cities of Evian and Thonon and the cooler air in summer, have made Ouchy a very popular place with both locals and tourists.
Once a fishing village, Ouchy was incorporated into the City of Lausanne in the mid-19th century to serve as their port city.

Picture of the unique C-shaped weathervane at the entrance to the harbor at Ouchy.

Active little park on the Ouchy waterfront.

A few of the boats do fun touristy trips all over Lake Geneva, which we will explore when the weather is more welcoming.

A shot of the harbor at Ouchy.

Ouverture au Monde (Openning at World)

This stainless steel sculpture is well known throughout Lausanne and is the work of the internationally recognized artist Ángel Duarte. It was a gift from Rotary International to the Town of Lausanne on the occasion of its worldwide meeting. The piece was originally placed in the "Comptoir Suisse" Gardens in Beaulieu, before being transferred to  Ouchy. "Ouverture au Monde" consists of 6 semi-hyperboloids, constructed with the help of 36 diamond-shaped panels.

Ouchy is also a favorite area for roller skating.  The tricks these two guys could do on roller skates were absolutely incredible.  Ouchy is considered the rolling skating capital of Switzerland.  Along the waterfront area there were also areas set aside for skateboarding. 

Another shot of the Ouchy harbor.  

The International Olympic Park and Museum.

Paula in front of the fountains at Olympic Park. The International Olympic Committee has been based here since 1914.
You will notice that Paula is holding some “friends”.  Before we left for Switzerland, each of our grand kids gave us their favorite stuffed animal.   The animals go with us every time we take an important trip.  As we see different sights, we take pictures with our “friends” and then e-mail the pictures to the kids.  It is a way that we can stay connected with them.  So, from time to time you will see the “friends” in our blog.  The pink penguin, Waddles” is from Lindsay, the brown bear, "Mario” is from Logan and “Duckie” is from Jack.  Jane is too young to have a favorite stuffed animal.

Lot's of interesting art in Olympic Park. 
We were giggling at this piece of probably "Famous" art. I was saying the Swiss need art so much they take the Italian's broken stuff. Can't you just picture the Italian's rummaging through an old warehouse of priceless goodies-oops-this is broken-give it to the Suisse-they won't know. 

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