Lausanne is a small city in Switzerland that sits on the northern shore of Lake Geneva. It’s an old city with a long history, but it feels lively and modern. We were just passing through on our way to Montreux, but we decided to stop and explore a little.

While researching our trip to Europe, I read that Lausanne’s historic district had a great view of the city. We wanted to get some good pictures, so we followed the street signs pointing to La Cité.

The historic district sits on a hill above the rest of the town. Cars are not allowed in the historic district, so we parked at the bottom of the hill and found some steps leading up to the top.

The historic district is much older than the rest of Lausanne. It’s also more quiet and peaceful. The cobblestone streets lead you past homes and shops built in the 1600’s. A few of the houses had Swiss flags hanging from the windows. Once we reached the top of the hill, the first thing that caught our attention was the Cathedral of Lausanne.

A Visit to the Ancient Cathedral of Lausanne - Outside View of the Cathedral

We walked around the west side of the cathedral and found a massive wooden door propped open, so we decided to go in.

A Visit to the Ancient Cathedral of Lausanne - Inside the Cathedral

Once inside, you can walk around and explore pretty much anywhere you want to. The cathedral has beautiful stained glass windows, marble statues, and lots other interesting artifacts from the medieval period.

A Visit to the Ancient Cathedral of Lausanne - Statues

Like a lot of other European cathedrals, the Cathedral of Lausanne took decades to build. Construction started in the year 1170, but it wasn’t finished until 1275.

When you’re standing in the main hall, look back towards the entrance and you’ll see the church’s massive custom built pipe organ. It took 150,00 hours to build and cost 6 million Swiss Francs.

After looking around the inside of the cathedral, we went to the bookstore and discovered we could climb the bell tower. Still searching for that perfect view, we happily paid the entrance fee (5 Swiss Francs) and made our way up the tower’s staircase.

A Visit to the Ancient Cathedral of Lausanne - Bell Tower Staircase

The path leading to the top wasn’t marked clearly, but after some exploring we found the right way to go. After a short climb, you get to the first level of the bell tower. There’s a walkway that goes all the way around it, so you can see the view from every direction.

A Visit to the Ancient Cathedral of Lausanne - View from the Tower

Continue up the stairs and you’ll reach the top level, which has one of the best viewpoints in Lausanne. The cathedral and town of Lausanne sit in the foreground, while Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps provide a scenic background.

A Visit to the Ancient Cathedral of Lausanne - View from the Top

Hang around the cathedral between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am and you’ll get to hear the tower lookout shout out the time every hour. Since the year 1405, someone has been stationed at the top of the tower to watch for fires and let residents know what time it is.

The Cathedral of Lausanne has a lot of unique and interesting things to see and it’s definitely something you should explore yourself. The cathedral is open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm from April to September; and from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm from October to March. Free guided tours run from July to September.