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Medieval galley resurfaces on Lake Geneva

(picture: Association lémanique pour la construction de la galère) Association lémanique pour la construction de la galère

A medieval galley is once again to set sail on Lake Geneva. Great fanfare will accompany the launch of La Liberté from the lakeside town of Morges on June 23, recalling a time when such vessels ruled the seas and lakes of Europe.

This content was published on June 15, 2001 - 17:47

The medieval galleys, which combined wind and human power (sails and oars), were used for trade and to wage war on Lake Geneva, with the oldest documented use of galleys on the lake going back to the 13th century.

It has taken eight years to reconstruct the galley, using plans and drawings uncovered in Paris. It took a year just to build the hangar needed to house the 140-tonne vessel, and construction work on the galley proper started in 1996.

The founders of the project wanted to make a contribution to the heritage of Lake Geneva and, at the same time, give a boost to the local economy.

It will take two trucks armed with winches about two hours to launch La Liberté. Fittingly, a medieval market will help transport visitors back to the age of the galley. There will also be a parade and in the evening, a sound and light show.

The festival atmosphere is due to be repeated in 2002 when the galley sets sail for the first time. Until then, special crews will be hard at work learning how to sail and row such an important relic of the past.

swissinfo

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