Innsbruck Austria and Geneva Switzerland

Innsbruck Austria and Geneva Switzerland

After one last Vaporetto ride along the Grand Canal, we arrived back at the Venice Car Park where we loaded up our luggage and headed North for the 400 km drive to Innsbruck, Austria.  The sun was  descending below the mountains when we arrived at our hotel in the Old Town section of Innsbruck.  We walked to the Town Square where we enjoyed some fine Austrian cuisine after which we wandered around recording some memories of this city that hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics.

The remnants of the Olympic flame monument in the park where the Olympic medals were awarded almost fifty years ago.

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The Goldenes Dachl, or Golden Roof is Innsbruck’s most famous landmark and is a three-story balcony built in the fifteenth century as a palace for Emperor Maximilian I. The balcony was their private  perch for watching the festivals that took place in the town square below.  The golden roof is made from 2,738 gold-plated copper tiles and they really do serve as the focal point of the square.

The Goldenes Dachl at dusk.

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…and after dark.

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The town square in Old Town is a wonderful area that has remained relatively unchanged for the last 500 years. There are many cafe’s around the perimeter of the square that are designed for warmth in the colder weather, right down to the sheep skin throw blankets on every chair.

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The Innsbruck Cathedral or Cathedral of St. James, a Baroque Cathedral built between 1717-1724.

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Helblinghaus dates back to the fifteenth century and was constructed as a town house. The ornate detail of the facade is in keeping with its neighbour with the golden roof!

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This last image from Innsbruck is the City Tower, another focal point of the Old Town district of Innsbruck.

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Following our very brief one night stay in Innsbruck we headed west, through Austria and Switzerland to our next stop which was Geneva, nestled on the edge of Lake Geneva on the Swiss/French border, some 580 km from Innsbruck.  This day was designed for us to enjoy driving through the Alps and seeing one of the most picturesque mountain ranges in the world. We did enjoy the day however did not see a single mountain thanks to a very low cloud ceiling that day that extended the entire distance between Innsbruck and Geneva. Hopefully we will fare better the next time we make the trek!

Geneva is a fabulous city and it would have been nice to spend more time there, however we arrived late in the day and were on the road early the next morning heading towards Paris. The metropolitan Geneva area has a population of over one million people and has the third highest quality of life of any city in the world (after Vienna and Zürich). It boasts more international organization headquarters than any other city in the world and not surprisingly is rated as the third most expensive place in the world in which to live. We instinctively knew this because the burgers and fries at the restaurant where we had diner were thirty eight Euros!

For our evening in Geneva we headed down town to the old centre of Geneva where the University of Geneva is located. Adjacent to the university are some of the city’s cultural landmarks. Below is the Geneva Theatre.

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And a little different perspective. Unfortunately it was impossible to include the fountain and not the light standard.

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Next to the theatre was the museum , again with an annoying light standard. If you look closely you will note the streetlight is behind the statue of the horse & rider, which would typically result in the statue being underexposed  as it was completely back lit. To solve this problem, during the thirty second exposure I grabbed the flash and ran up to the statue base and fired the flash at the horse & rider about six times while I made sure to never stop moving (so I didn’t show up in the picture).  This technique is know as light painting and is a common practice in night photography. It takes a bit of practice but is not really that difficult….just don’t stop moving!

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The University of Geneva is a sprawling campus in the heart of the old city. On its park like setting there are many academic buildings, lecture halls, dormitories and libraries however my favourite was this little cafe with bigger than life checker and chess boards out front for anyone to play.

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The reason we visited the university was to see Reformation Wall which is a 100 metre long monument built into the side of the old wall of the city of Geneva. Reformers Wall was constructed in 1909 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the founding of the University of Geneva by John Calvin on June 5, 1559.  The wall features ten prominent theologians of the Reformation period in the mid fourteenth century.  Although John Calvin is noted as the founder of the university, he is best know for his role in the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther who nailed his Ninety Five Theses on the door of his church on October 31, 1517, a document that ‘protested’ (hense Protestant) the theology, doctrine and structure of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1536 John Calvin published his opus “Institutes of the Christian Religion”.

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In the centre of Reformation Wall are statues of (from left to right) William Farel,  John Calvin, Theodore Beza and John Knox that stand 16.5′ high.

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Although the above image may look like it was taken on a dull day, it was really taken in the virtual dark and is a 25 second time exposure.

I trust you have enjoyed these few images from Innsbruck and Geneva. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t spend more time exploring these two cities but it is impossible to fit everything into one trip! After one night in Geneva we headed to Paris where we spent almost three days and took enough photographs to supply the material for more than one blog post.


  1. We toured Europe in 1985, 10 countries in 10 days and hope to do that again someday. Innsbruck and Geneva were among our stops and they are wonderful places to visit and photograph, if you have lots of Euros! Too bad you didn’t see the Alps, they are quite different than our Rockies. Great collection of images as usual Scott.

    • Thanks Arni. We were exhausted after six countries in 17 days and that includes the Vatican and Monaco as two of those countries! Some day we will hopefully be able to photograph Innsbruck & Geneva in the daylight 🙂