Where is it – North central Swizertland
What is there to see – The Chapel Bridge, Lion Monument, KKL, Old Town, Spreuer Bridge
Also known as “The City of Lights”
Interesting Trivia – It was in Luzern where the legendary William Tell shot an apple off of his son’s head
Interesting fact – Bucherer, the flagship store of Switzerland’s best known watch and high-end jewellery dealer, began in Luzern in 1888.
We’re charmed by Lucerne’s (Luzern in German) sense of historical tradition and modernity existing side-by-side at ease, by its misty lake and by its impressive mountain panorama.
Located on the shore of Lake Lucerne within sight of Mt. Pilatus and Mt. Rigi in the Swiss Alps, Lucerne, with a population of 77,491, is divided by the River Reuss into a well-preserved Old Town and a New Town. The two areas which could be leisurely discovered on foot are connected by the world’s oldest covered wooden footbridge, the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbruecke), 670 ft. long, built in 1333 to ward off enemy attacks and which later became the city’s most famous landmark and also one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the country.
Inside the bridge in its roof are a series of more than 100 17th century paintings depicting events from Lucerne’s history. Unfortunately, a 1993 fire allegedly caused by a cigarette destroyed much of the bridge and badly damaged many of the art works. Their charred remains were put back and rehung serving as a reminder of that significant chapter in the bridge history.
Adjoining the Chapel Bridge is the octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturm), a fortification from the 13th century which has served as a prison, torture chamber, watchtower, and treasury. Today it is used as the guild of the artillery organization of Luzern.
Across the Reuss River is another wooden bridge, the Spreuer Bridge, built in 1407 with its 17th century roof paintings detailing 67 scenes called “The Dance of Death” (Totentanz) that features the Grim Reaper’s invitation to dance with him, i.e, an invitation to death.
Lying next to the Reuss riverbank and close to the Chapel Bridge is the Jesuit Church, the first large baroque church built in Switzerland noted for its exquisite roccocco interiors, marble stucco and lovely paintings.
In a small park at the “Lowendenkmal” at the east end of the medieval town is the sculpture of the mortally-wounded lion curved out of a wall of sandstone rock above a pond to commemorate the more than 600 mercenary soldiers from central Switzerland who lost their lives in 1792 while serving the French King Louis XVI during the French Revolution.
Luzern particularly the well-preserved Old Town is a city of picturesque town squares bordered with historic houses and buildings clad in frescoes. Modernity however has also changed the architectural landscape of the city. Worth a visit is the stunning and futuristic KKL (Culture & Convention Centre) located right next to the train station on the lakefront. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and built for a period of five years from 1995-2000, the KKL has a hall called Lucerne Hall which can be converted into different sizes rendering ideal for concerts or for conventions and banquets.
Whether you’re shopping or just browsing don’t miss Bucherer, a successful family enterprise for elegant timepieces and jewellery designed and handcrafted locally.
A trip up to one of Lucerne’s mountains, the Pilatus or the Rigi, is a must depending on your stay duration. You can also experience circumnavigating the lake by road or cruising by paddle wheel steamers (passenger boats).