Chapel of the maccabees
Ancient cobblestone pathways in the Old Town lead the way to one of Geneva's unique sights, the Chapel of the Maccabees. This colorful Gothic influenced chapel is located in the south-west wing of the St. Pierre's Cathedral. It was built in the 15th century as a tomb for Jean de Brogny and his family, a cardinal who served under Pope Clement VII.
History of the chapel
Chapel of the Maccabees or the Notre-dame collegial chapel was converted into a warehouse during the Reformation to store salt and gunpowder, but by the end of the 17th century, it was used as the venue for lectures on philosophy by the Academy, a predecessor of Geneva University. This period saw a change in the layout of the chapel, as they built three other interior floors to accommodate the masses. Today, visitors can attend concerts that are held in this historic building and it is even used for weddings and family ceremonies.
The chapel was renovated in the 19th century in the neo-Gothic style. The chancel vault was redecorated displaying the celestial chorus theme that reflected the original frescoes of its glorious past, a time before austerity was introduced by John Calvin as he preached Protestantism to the citizens of this city.
A perfect time to visit this chapel is during the sunny day, a spectacular sight as the sun's rays hit the stain glass and creates a magical atmosphere inside the chapel with different hues of color. The colorful arches and the high ceiling are remarkable. The ceiling is painted in shades of blue and pink and if you look closely you will see angels adorning the ceiling. The pulpit is stunning, it has sculptures of an angel, an eagle, a winged lion, and a winged horse, this represented the Medieval Royal Houses from the different ages that patronized this chapel. Another interesting sight is the historic Walcker organ, this was positioned on the cardinal's tomb after renovation in 1889. Though small in size, the Chapel Maccabees charms the visitor to spending more time admiring its beautiful interiors.
Other attractions near the Chapel of the Maccabees
You might also be interested in visiting the archaeological site that is located below the cathedral. There are stunning artifacts from the 4th to the 11th century. The most outstanding is the 4th century mosaic floor and the baptistery, do watch out for the skeletons at this site!
The adventurous can climb to the top of 2 towers of St. Peter's Cathedral and enjoy the beautiful panoramic views of the city - definitely worth the climb.
Opening hours of the Chapel of the Maccabees:
June to September: Mon-Sat: 09:30-18:30 and Sun 12:00-18:30
October to May: Mon-Sat: 10:00-17:30 and Sun 12:00-17:30
Vaults open daily from 10:00-17:30
Disabled Access: Yes
Admission Fee to the chapel: Free.
See more information about the whole St. Peter's Cathedral.