GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – It is not too late to head to Geneva’s Old Town to travel back in time, say, over 400 years.
Hundreds of people carrying 17th century arms, dressed as if in the 1600s, carrying flags and playing old military marches take over the streets for the yearly “Fête de L’Escalade,” a three-day commemoration of the city’s defeat of Savoy on 11 December 1602.
The Escalade (not to be confused with the Escalade run, ormarmite) takes place yearly, the second weekend in December.
It was during the longest night of the year, according to the Julian calendar, when the Duke of Savoy and his brother-in-law, Philip III of Spain, launched a night attack on the independent city-state of Geneva.
Legend has it that a hot, soup kettle poured by a Genevan elderly over some of the attackers was the starting point for a fierce defensive of the city (hence the chocolate “marmites” sold around town for the occasion).
The ancient Monetier Passageway, normally closed to the public during the year, opens for the occasion allowing a rare look into Geneva’s past.
On 11 December, some schools, neighbourhoods and community centers in Geneva also celebrate the Escalade with parades, music, hot wine and soup.
So head downtown, dress up warm and remember to head to the cathedral’s plaza after seeing the parade.
Fire, horses and some dancing await those who turn up on Escalade day. Download the programme now in French and English from the organizers’ website, Compagnie 1602.