Tour de l'Île is the only surviving structure from a 13th century château that was located on the island in the middle of the Rhône River. The castle was built to augment Geneva's defences against the Duchy of Savoy and to protect the passage linking inner Switzerland with France. The castle was damaged in fires and was finally demolished in 1677, with only the tower spared. In 1897, the tower was restored and incorporated in the construction of the adjacent building, which was part of Banque Safdié for a long time, but is now Leumi Private Bank.
Due to its key position on the Rhône river at the lake’s end, Geneva has long been a target for appropriation.
The island facing Place Bel-Air and its bridge spanning the two banks, always was a strategic point and Julius Caesar himself came to Geneva in 58 BC and had the bridge destroyed, to cool the intrusive ardours of the Helvetians.
In the 13th century, a fortified castle was erected in order to watch for and repel the Savoyards. However, after a long siege, they managed to seize it in 1287.
During the 14th century, as the era of Geneva’s fairs grew, the island became a large market. Damaged by several fires, the castle was demolished in 1677, save for its tower.
Raised and restored in 1897, it is one of the key monuments of Geneva’s heritage.
The L'ile used to have military importance - there used to be a chateau here to surveil and repulse the Savoyards. Later int the era of the geneva fairs the island became a market. During the Reformation the chateau served as a quarry and as a prison. Several fires caused damage and it was fianlly demolished in 1677 - only the tower being spared. The clock at the top of the tower is surrounded by the arms of Geneva.
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