Top Historic Sights in Lausanne, Switzerland

Explore the historic highlights of Lausanne

Palais de Rumine

On his death, Gabriel de Rumine, son of Russian nobility, left the city of Lausanne 1.5 million Swiss Francs to erect a building for the use of the public. Building began in 1892 according to the design of the Lyonnais architect Gaspard André. The building was inaugurated on the 3 November 1902, although building work continued until 1904. On 24 July 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed in Palais de Rumine. ...
Founded: 1892-1904 | Location: Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne Historical Museum

Housed in the bishop’s palace, the oldest parts of which date back to the 11th century, Lausanne Historical Museum has since 1918 been telling the story of the city of Lausanne and the economic, social and urban changes it has experienced. In its permanent exhibition, it tells the story of Lausanne, from its prehistoric origins through to the economic, social and urban revolutions of the 19th century. The collections bo ...
Founded: 1918 | Location: Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne Cathedral

Construction of the Lausanne Cathedral began in 1170. Twenty years later another master mason restarted construction until 1215. Finally a third engineer, Jean Cotereel, completed the majority of the existing cathedral including a porch, and two towers, one of which is the current day belfry. The other tower was never completed. The cathedral was consecrated and dedicated to Our Lady in 1275 by Pope Gregory X, Rudolph o ...
Founded: 1170-1275 | Location: Lausanne, Switzerland

Olympic Museum

The Olympic Museum (Musée olympique) in Lausanne houses permanent and temporary exhibits relating to sport and the Olympic movement. With more than 10,000 artifacts, the museum is the largest archive of Olympic Games in the world and one of Lausanne"s prime tourist site attracting more than 250,000 visitors each year. The Olympic Museum and the Olympic Park are located at Ouchy, south of Lausanne. The headqua ...
Founded: 1993 | Location: Lausanne, Switzerland

Saint-Maire Castle

Château Saint-Maire ('Saint-Maire Castle') was built from 1397 to 1425 by the Bishops of Lausanne to serve as their fortified residence. Begun 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 Bern captured Lausanne and secularized the bishopric ( ...
Founded: 1397-1425 | Location: Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne-Vidy Roman Ruins

Lousonna was a Gallo-Roman port during Roman times. The port town was important for commerce with links on Lake Geneva to Roman towns such as the present-day Geneva, Nyon, and Villeneuve. However, during Roman times, Lausanne was never of political or military importance. Although borders shifted, Lausanne was mostly a backwater at the southern most parts of Germania, ruled from Mainz. Political and military power in the ...
Founded: 15 BC | Location: Lausanne, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).