The Reformation Monument - History and Facts | History Hit

The Reformation Monument

Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

The Reformation Monument in Geneva is a tribute to the 16th century Protestant Reformation in Switzerland.

Peta Stamper

21 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Reformation Monument

Stretching for 100 metres, the Reformation Monument (Monument de la Reformation) in Geneva is a tribute to the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland which occurred in the 16th century.

It was in 1909, on the 400th anniversary of the birth of Jean Calvin, that construction of the Reformation Monument began, with its location adjacent to the city’s historic defensive walls.

The Reformation Monument history

During the Reformation, Geneva in Switzerland became the heart of Calvinism named for Jean Calvin, a French pastor, theologian and reformer, founded the University of Geneva. Since the 16th century, the city has been closely linked to Protestantism and as such, the monument was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Calvin’s birth and represent the importance of Geneva to the Reformation.

The Reformation Monument was the outcome of a 1909 contest to transform Bastion Park, and was won by 4 Swiss architects. Mainly comprised of a 100 metre wall – hence it is also known as the Reformation Wall (Murs des Reformateurs) – the Reformation Monument celebrates the movement’s main leaders in the form of statues.

Jean Calvin, Theodore de Beze, Guillaume Farel and John Knox, are all depicted on the wall together with smaller memorials to other figures involved – such as Oliver Cromwell – and depictions of the events of the Reformation. The inscription of “Post Tenebras Lux” is the Latin motto of the Reformation, meaning “After the darkness, light.”

The wall was vandalised by an LGBT activism group in 2019, who poured rainbow-coloured paint on the statues.

The Reformation Monument today

Today, the pale stone wall framed by trees within Bastion Park remains an ongoing reminder of the great players of the Calvinist Protestant Reformation in Europe. The monument is an unmissable part of the park, once part of the city walls and a symbol for the Calvinist University of Geneva, and is a peaceful spot to escape the hubbub of the city any time of day.

Getting to The Reformation Monument

Within the university’s Bastion Park, the Reformation Monument is easily found on foot from the Promenade des Bastions running through the park. Via public transport, you can reach the monument by getting trams 12, 17 or 18 or buses 3, 5, 20 and 36 to Place de Neuve, between the park and Musée Rath.

Featured In

Switzerland Historic Sites

Discover the 10 best historic sites in Switzerland, from lakeside castles to Roman ruins, in this ultimate guide to Swiss landmarks and monuments.