Located in the heart of the old town, the Maison Tavel encloses Geneva’s urban history and is linked to the network of art and history museums.
The beginning of Maison Tavel’s history dates back to the dusk of the 12th century. While the city was expanding (there were about two or three thousand residents), the building was erected in the city centre, near the Cathedral of Saint Peter. It would then become the property of the wealthy and local aristocratic Tavel family, at the dawn of the 13th century. In 1334, a fire ravaged through a significant part of the city, without sparing the residence. It was rebuilt by the Tavels, and was decorated with sculpted heads giving it an authentic gothic touch. At that time, the Maison Tavel was considered by some to be the city’s most beautiful abode.
Over the centuries, the residence had many owners and important architectural transformations were undertaken. Even today, the magnificent edifice attracts the eyes of passersby, distinguishing itself from surrounding buildings, both for its charismatic medieval architecture and its gray mantle.
Repurposed into a museum in 1986, the entire building, from the cellar to the attic, is open for visits. You will discover objects and paintings of great beauty. The craftsmanship of the cabinetmakers is highlighted by the artistically carved doors, as well as that of the ironworkers, who proved their meticulousness in shaping the keys. Furniture and everyday objects attest to the past of the Genevese, from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. On the ground floor, you will be welcomed by an audio-visual documentary explaining Geneva’s transformation during those times.
Below the eaves, you will notice the famous historical carving of the city, by the architect Auguste Magnin, prior to the destruction of its fortifications in 1850.
And finally, old weighing systems and coins are exhibited in the monumental cellar representing trade of yesteryear.
Ps: The coat of arms of the Tavel family are apparently the same as those of the commune of Bellevue, a golden coat of arms with three sabre eaglets.
Photography © Phil Schutz
Rue du Puits-St-Pierre 6, 1204 Geneva
Tue to Sun 11am-6pm
Entrance: free entry for permanent collections
Temporary exhibitions 5.-. Free entry for under 18 year olds and the first Sunday of the month