The Maison Tavel (Tavel House) is the oldest private residence in Geneva. This remarkable example of Swiss civil architecture bears the name of the family who owned it from the late 13th to the early 16th century.
Destroyed by a fire in 1334, which spared only the cellars, the house was rebuilt with both the character of a fortified dwelling with turrets, but also that of a city palace with a façade embellished with carved heads. Over the centuries numerous architectural transformations were undertaken, especially by the Calandrini family in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
In 1963, the City of Geneva acquired the Maison Tavel and carried out an exemplary restoration. Archaeological digs begun in 1979 by the Canton’s Archaeological Services, especially in the garden, brought to light vestiges of an 11th century tower and a 17th century cistern to collect rainwater.
Since 1986, this historical building has been home to the Musée d’histoire urbaine et de la vie quotidienne (Museum of Urban History and Daily Life). The engravings, paintings, maps, models, furniture and miscellaneous objects presented come from Geneva’s public collections and evoke Geneva’s past and its inhabitants from the Middle Ages through to the 19th century.