Jet d'Eau

When most people think of famous water fountains they picture a cascading flow traveling from tiers or intricately detailed sculptures. The water generally ends its journey in a pool below. Well, Jet d'Eau in Geneva, Switzerland, definitely has a pool of water; it's a very large lake that feeds it a constant flow of water. This is a fountain that breaks all the rules, yet it is one of the most popular and adored water features on the planet.


The extravagant site you see today is not the original fountain. The first one was installed at the Usine de la Coulouvreniere in 1886. This is slightly downstream from where you see it today. It was originally used for a hydraulic power network as a safety valve, shooting about 98 feet into the air.

It wasn't long before its aesthetic appeal became valuable, and in 1891 it was moved to where it is today, which is the point at which Lake Geneva empties into Rhone River. It was moved to celebrate the Swiss Confederation's 600th anniversary, which also happened to be the same time as the Federal Gymnastics Festival. Here, its maximum height was increased to 295 feet.

Present Day Fountain

The Jet d"Eau you see today was installed in the same location as the old one in 1951. It uses a pumping station that is partially submerged, which allows it to pump lake water, rather than city water. It is one of Geneva's most famous landmarks, and certainly one that is inescapable, as it is on the city's tourism website and it was the logo for the 2008 Union of European Football Associations Championship.

Today, Jet d"Eau is one of the world's largest outdoor fountains. Approximately 132 gallons of water are jetted 459 feet into the air every second at 124 mph. There are about 1,849 gallons of water in the air at any given moment the fountain is in operation. It uses two 500kW pumps, operates at 2,400 volts, and consumes more than 1 megawatt of electricity. It is so massive that it is visible from an airplane flying over the city at 33,000 feet.

Visiting the Fountain

If you are in Geneva, then getting your picture taken with Jet d'Eau in the background is an absolute must. You can see it from anywhere along the shoreline, so if you simply walk around the city it won't be hard to find. You can also visit the fountain by getting on a stone ferry at the left bank of the lake or by walking onto the jetty. This is the best way to appreciate the noise and force of the water flow. Be prepared to get drenched though, especially if the wind shifts just a little. The fountain does not operate in the winter, but is illuminated at night when it is on.