2014 marked the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.
After the end of World War II, 51 countries came together with the goal of promoting peace through mutual cooperation. Geneva was picked as one of four locations for a United Nations Office, housing many important UN agencies.
Today, all of the world's countries but three are members of the United Nations. Due to their cultural and historical significance of any citizen in the world, the United Nations and the Palace of Nations are meaningful places to visit while in Geneva.
In order to enter the secure perimeter of the United Nations complex in Geneva, visitors have to pass the "Pregny" security checkpoint.
Once inside, the guided tour provides access to various buildings, conference rooms, and meeting halls...
And - of course - the exclusive gift shop!
First off, the tour enters Building E which houses the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development:
Some hallways have a hard time hiding their age...
But special exhibits, displays, and art work can be found throughout the premises. While devised to help inform constituents and diplomats about important topics, this seems to be great way of bringing in some color!
This assembly hall has witnessed quite some history. For instance, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was devised here:
This tapestry is an optical illusion! It was donated by the People's Republic of China, and you will have to see it to believe it...
Here are more examples of cultural artifacts which were donated by UN member countries:
This gigantic porcelain vase was donated by Japan in commemoration of the UN's 50th anniversary. It is called "The Blue Star of Life":
The main assembly hall holds no less than 2000 people! Apart from UN staff and diplomats, meetings also include numerous interpreters, scripts and ushers.
Each desk features a microphone and a special earphone which feeds simultaneous translations in one of the six official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
The park behind the main complex is stunning! Court of Honour is perfectly landscaped and has panoramic vistas as far as the eye can see...
Here's a truly secure phone booth from pre NSA times:
The iconic entrance of the Palace of Nations is only for staff with security clearance. However, visitors can still peek through the gate to catch a glimpse of the world's flags:
The Broken Chair just outside the entrance stands as a symbol for peace. It has a very powerful presence.
Some advice about visiting the United Nations in Geneva
- It is best to plan an entire day for the visit of the United Nations and the Palace of Nations in Geneva.
- You want to get started early in order to beat the crowds (but there will be crowds, nonetheless).
- There is no need to rush, but arrive by 9:30 AM as visitors in the front of the line will be admitted between 9:45 and 10:00 AM.
- After security clearance, you will be able to buy a tour pass for CHF 12.
- The address of the "Pregny" gate is 14 avenue de la Paix. Here is how to get there.
- Important: Bring your passport or Swiss ID card in order to be admitted, and avoid any large bags or purses if possible.