Halal-friendly holidays in Geneva
Geneva is a city brimming with rich cross-border history, evoking world heritage and internationally recognised for its quality of life. Geneva is considered one of the best cities for its safety, health care and exceptional environmental quality. Not only is Geneva home to the second largest UN office after New York, but also the largest number of international organisations in its compact metropolis. “Capital of Peace”, it has a heritage of communication and negotiations, an open mind and an encouragement of international coexistence. In every corner of the city, within the iconic remains and on the cobbled streets, we discover the tales that changed the history of our world. The city of Geneva shares a French and Swiss heritage. Both peoples covet it as much for its refreshing atmosphere promoted by the sub-alpine mountains of Jura, as well as for Lake Geneva and for its gentle and regenerating nature.
Islam in Geneva
Islam in Geneva increased in the 20th century with the arrival of labour migration. The origins of the workers were mainly from the former Yugoslavia including a large majority of Kosovars escaping the wars in Yugoslavia and Kosovo.
The introduction of Swiss immigration laws in the 1970s allowed family reunification. The following decades saw waves of children and women arriving in Geneva to start a new life. Statistics estimate a population of almost 7% Muslims in Geneva.
However, the writer Manfred Wenner published an article in 1980 which revealed the presence of Muslims in Western Europe in Valais, west of Lake Geneva. His research disrupts the historical narrative that the defeat of the Muslims in the Battle of Poitiers resulted in Muslims leaving France and its environs. It describes that Arabs and Amazighs from the Massif des Maures, in the southeast of France, settled in Valais in the 10th century. He reports that in 940, sources describe attacks around Lake Geneva, including the present-day cities of Geneva and Lausanne. This historical revelation blurs the image conceived by Western history and reveals the existence of Muslims in Central Europe in the Middle Ages.
Mosques and prayer facilities in Geneva
Official sources estimate that there are 260 mosques or places of prayer in Switzerland, including in Geneva. International relations with Saudi Arabia and other Muslim economic powers have helped fund prayer spaces for Muslims.
Islamic Cultural Foundation and the Geneva Mosque - The main mosque of Geneva houses the Islamic Cultural Foundation and is known as the Petit-Saconnex Mosque due to its location. It is the largest Muslim place of prayer in Switzerland with a capacity of 1,500 worshipers. The construction of the mosque was carried out by the Muslim World League based in Saudi Arabia. The mosque is inspired by Andalusian and North African styles and hosts a multitude of services such as social activities, a school, youth evenings and a library.
Islamic Center of Geneva - The Islamic Center of Geneva is a mosque housed in a simple house, founded on the ideas of peaceful coexistence and common collaboration. The centre organises lectures, readings, seminars, conferences and competitions, Quran and Tajweed courses and Islamic studies. You can also benefit from an archive of sermons available on their website in Arabic and French.
Top attractions in Geneva
Jet d'Eau - The Jet d'Eau is a huge fountain that shoots 500 litres of water per second into the air, reaching an altitude of 140 metres. It can be seen across the city and even from the air flying over Geneva at an altitude of 10 km.
English Garden - Tourists are encouraged to stroll through the English Garden on their way to the Jet d'Eau. This urban park is ideally located at the outer southern point of Lake Geneva and close to other popular sites in the old town. The park is called the English garden because of its irregular style and untouched nature.
National Monument - Located to the west of the English garden, it is a historical symbol representing two bronze statues of women carrying swords and shields with Hellenist touches. It was erected to celebrate the reunification of Geneva with Switzerland.
Flower Clock - Housed in the English garden, it is an arrangement of flowers in the shape of a clock made with around 6,500 seasonal plants and flowers. It pays tribute to the country's watchmakers and the reputation of Swiss watches coveted worldwide.
Palace of Nations and its park - The palace is located in Ariana Park. The main building is inspired by the architecture of Greco-Roman civilizations, evoking their multi-cultural attitude.
United Nations Celestial Sphere - The United Nations Celestial Sphere is installed on a reservoir in Ariana Park, offering an exceptional panorama. This globe is covered in international cultural motifs and is a symbol of “pax universalis”, universal peace.
United Nations Flags - The flags of the United Nations and Member States are aligned parallel. Countries are organised in alphabetical order and flags are raised by hand every day at eight in the morning.
Old Town - The old town hides lots of ancient remains in its cobbled streets full of small shops, cafes and art galleries.
Place du Bourg-de-Four - A historical capsule in the heart of the city, ideal for feeling the spirit of Geneva. Visit the market, a ninth-century tradition, or sit at the Café de Bourg-de-Four to taste Swiss specialties.
Shore of Lake Geneva - The natural site of the Lake at the crossroads of Swiss and French territories extends for almost 73 kilometres. Book day cruises to appreciate the abundance of nature surrounding the lake. In warmer seasons you can go paragliding, rafting, swimming and there is even a hammam.
Halal food and restaurants in Geneva
Halal restaurants in Geneva are numerous, particularly Lebanese and Middle Eastern restaurants, due to international relations with Arab investors and businesses. There are also many Indian, Turkish and halal fast food restaurants. Foodies can also delight in the varied cuisine in Geneva, located at the crossroads of German, French and northern Italian influences. Not to miss :
Fondue - A favourite among cheese lovers. As the name suggests, it is a mixture of cheeses, melted until it reaches a creamy and delicious consistency. It is served in a common pot and eaten by dipping bread into it using long-stemmed forks. It is often prepared with a touch of white wine or alcohol, but there are broth-based versions.
Swiss Cheeses - The Swiss are known for their mild, creamy cheese. Try Appenzeller, a traditional specialty, Berner Alp- und Hobelkäse AOP, a cheese matured for seven months or the Swiss variations of Emmental or Gruyère.
Älplermagronen - Älplermagronen are Swiss Alpine macaroni and are a comforting dish made with a mixture of penne pasta, cheese, cream and sometimes applesauce.
Swiss Chocolate - Swiss chocolate differentiates itself with a smoother and creamier texture, because the Swiss use more cocoa butter. The addition of Alpine milk helps create a unique chocolate, identifiable all over the world. Lindt, Toblerone, Max Chocolatier and Nestlé are among the Swiss brands that dominate the world of chocolate.
Fish dishes are particularly popular in Geneva, Neuchâtel and Biel. Zander, whitefish and trout are among the favourites.