Geneva is a beautiful place to visit. The people are warm and very friendly. If you love politics or history, one of the most magnicent places to visit is the United Nations - the Palais des Nations. The guided tour is only about $10 and it takes you on a guided tour of the entire facility and special meeting rooms. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and friendly. It is an opportunity to walk where some of the great leaders have walked. The tours are available in numerous languages and the immediate vicinity around the building is a nice place to walk.
I was only in Geneva for a short flight lay over but I had just enough time to go from the airport in the morning to visit the UN in the afternoon and be back to Geneva airport in time for my next flight. I didn't know how wonderful Geneva is. I wish I had more time to visit it!
The gardens of the Palais des Nations are full of artworks that present a message. Behind me in the picture you can see the AIDS memorial presented with 2 of the letters on the top and 2 on the bottom. This is done because the virus is known as SIDA in some countries so the spelling is fluent here.
The Celestial Sphere in the background is a gift from the United States in 1939 (Even though they weren't a part of the League of Nations). Gift of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. The spherical frame is adorned with constellations and stars. The 85 constellations are gilded and the 840 stars are silvered. The sphere is equipped with a motor to revolve slowly around an axis turned to the Pole Star. This motor no longer works.
Other important monuments that were gifts from Member States, private sponsors and artists include:
* The Great Centaur by Ernst Neizvestny (1997). Gift from the Russian Federation.
* Family by Edwina Sandys (1979). Gift from Anthony and Penny Oppenheimer to the United Nations Children’s Fund.
* The Spreading of the Seeds and the Gathering of Ashes by Esther Shalev-Gerz and Jochen Gerz (1995). Gift from Germany on the occasion of the fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations.
* The Tower of Loneliness by Per Kirkeby (Denmark, 1995). Gift from the artist.
* Memorial (collective gift, 2003). Gift in memory of civil servants who lost their lives in the service of peace.
* Cenotaph (tomb of Gustave Revilliod, 1890).
* Montbovon Chalet (Switzerland, 1668). Acquisition by the Revilliod Foundation.
The Conquest of Space was created by Barsh, Kolchin, Faidish and Youri Neroda in 1971. This tall grey monument coated with heat resistant titanium was a gift from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to commemorate man's (and specifically the USSR's) ability to travel to outer space.
The Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, was built between 1929 and 1938 as the headquarters of the League of Nations. Today it serves as the United Nations' European headquarters and flies the UN flag.
What you'll get on a tour of the facility is:
* One of the conference rooms in the new building.
* Some of the gifts presented by various countries to the United Nations Office at Geneva
* The Salle des Pas Perdus, from where you can see the Armillary Sphere and the monument commemorating the conquest of outer space.
* The Assembly Hall, the largest room in the Palais des Nations.
* The Council Chamber, where many important negotiations have taken place. The walls are covered with impressive murals.
* A film on the activities and the objectives of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Remember to bring your passport as you are officially leaving Switzerland when you enter these grounds.
The League of Nations was an international organization founded after the First World War with its constitution being approved by the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. The League's goals included disarmament, preventing war through collective security, and settling disputes between countries through negotiation, diplomacy, and by the global welfare improvement. Despite these bold aims, the League proved incapable of preventing aggression by the fascist powers in late 1930s.
The United Nations effectively replaced the League of Nations after World War II and inherited a number of agencies and organizations founded by the League. The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) is the second largest United Nations centre after the United Nations Headquarters in New York. When you hear of peace talks being conducted in Geneva this is where they take place.
Beneath the Palais des Nations's foundation stone is a capsule containing a document listing the names of the League of Nations Member States, a copy of the Covenant of the League, and specimen coins of all the countries represented at its Tenth Assembly.
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