Lausanne, World Capital of Sports

The Swiss city of Lausanne is best known as the world’s Olympic capital; sometimes it is called the World Sports Capital as well because it houses both the International Olympic Committee as well as the CAS. But it is also a charming small town on Lake Geneva with a friendly population that makes you feel very much at home anytime you visit.



Lausanne was first settled in the fourth millennium BC by the Celts. The Romans continued the use of the town after their conquest in 120 BC. They called it Lousanna which probably is derived from the original Celt name for it. Lausanne received its first Christian church in the sixth century AD together with its first bishop who moved his see from Avenches to Lausanne at the same time. Like the neighboring city of Geneva, Lausanne was caught in several power shifts in the centuries that followed. In 1275, the cathedral of Notre Dame was inaugurated in the presence of Pope Gregory X and Rudolf of Habsburg, King of Rome and Germany.


In the following centuries, the city became the center for the secular power of its bishops. The power balance in it was fragile, as the Counts of Savoy customarily sided with the city's inhabitants against the bishop to weaken his hold on it. In the 16th century, Lausanne was annexed by Bern and thereby became part of the Swiss Confederation as a vassal town. When Napoleon conquered and annexed the Swiss Republics in 1798, he created the Republic and Canton of Vaud, which was identical in size to today’s Republic and Canton within Switzerland. 


It was the city of Bern which opened the first school for higher learning in Lausanne in the 16th century; this school later became the University of Lausanne. In 1915, Lausanne became the principal seat of the Olympic Movement and seat of the International Olympic Committee. After this, more and more international sports movements chose Lausanne as their main seat, and today, the list of organisations sitting in the city is too long to mention them all. 


Lausanne is the seat of the Swiss Federal High Court, and at the same time of the CAS, the ‘sports high court’ for the world. With its status as Olympic World Capital, it also hosts the Olympic Museum which tells the history of the modern Olympic Games since 1896. There are many other museums as well; one of the most important ones is the Elysée Museum for Photography.


One of the most important events that yearly are hosted in the city is the Prix de Lausanne, an international competition for the top of the tops of young ballet dancers from all over the world. The prizes range from money for local education to fully paid educations at the world’s leading ballet academies. Just being accepted as a participant in the contest is equivalent to a Grammy for the teenage dancers.


The language spoken and used in Lausanne is French. Lausanne is also a seat for the Swiss National Lottery. Because of this, lawyers in Switzerland usually refer to the Swiss Federal High Court as the lottery. Among others, the Piccard family originates from Lausanne; you might remember its youngest scion for his ballooning around the world. His Solar Impulse airplane based on solar power only is breaking records all over the planet, too.


For further information on the city of Lausanne you may want to go to the official homepage of the city government lausanne.ch.