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Annecy: called the Venice of the Alps

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Annecy, which has about fifty thousand inhabitants, is a beautiful town in Alpine France, in the Haute-Savoie department, not far from the borders with Switzerland and Italy. The city is located about 450 meters above sea level, along the northern shore of the lake of the same name (28 sq km), which is of glacial origin.

The town developed from the Middle Ages when it became the residence of the Count of Geneva. From 1401 until the unification of Italy it was part of the Savoy Kingdom. But in 1860 together with all Savoy it was ceded to France. Annecy is today an important tourist center for the beauty of the lake and for its proximity to the Alps.


Very interesting is also its historical center – the Vielle Ville – with narrow streets and arcades dating back to the seventeenth century. Heart of the commercial and political life of Annecy, the medieval part of the city, is crossed by numerous canals and pedestrian streets with arcades. The historic center of Annecy is dotted above all with numerous fine buildings, beautiful squares and numerous fountains.

Among the most interesting buildings in Annecy we find the Castle (Château d’Annecy) which dominates the city. Built between the 12th and 16th centuries, the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours, cadet branch of the House of Savoy, resided in this castle. Today the Castle houses a museum (Musée d’art contemporain et d’art régional).

The Palais de l’Isle is a characteristic building of the city, located in the historic center along the Thiou canal. It was built in the twelfth century and over the centuries it had various functions, such as that of the seat of the castle of the city, seat of the administration, mint, seat of justice and prison. Today it houses the Interpretation Center of Architecture and Heritage (Center d’Interprétation de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine de l’agglomération d’Annecy). Another historical building in the city is the Château de Novel, built in the Middle Ages (12th century) at the foot of the Annecy-le-Vieux hill.

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