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Lucerne -- Old City
Walls and Painted Houses
Perched at the northwest corner of the Vierwaldstaettersee
(Lake) in central
Switzerland, Lucerne is a beautiful lakeside town nestled among the Alps. With
its brightly painted buildings, extraordinary scenery,
and aura of high class, Lucerne is pleasing to the eyes while not as daunting on
the wallet as other Swiss cities. It was also easy to get to, sitting on the major north-south train route
between Zürich and Milan. The
city's tourist bureau was located right outside the main train station, and its
city guide offers a full walking tour of the city that can be done in about two
The only thing that went wrong on this tour was the weather.
It rained heavily during the day that I spent there, and some of my most
desired shots were defeated by raindrops on the lens. That was a real
shame as Lucerne was among the prettiest cities in the country. It
ranks number one among Swiss cities I intend to return to given the chance.
So, despite the photo problems, I decided to post this as a gallery rather
than the usual travelogue. For Lucerne, more pix were better...
|Pictured here is
probably Lucerne's most picturesque sight -- the Kapellebruecke.
This was a simple covered wooden bridge going across the mouth of
the Reuss River as it leaves the lake. The city center is at
||This is the
interior of the bridge. These old murals depict events and
personalities of Swiss history, listed in the four official Swiss
languages (German, French, Italian, and Romantsch). The number
in the center of the text bar (the one at foreground is "59") is a
sequence. The bridge only contains part of the sequence.
|This is the
Jesuitenkirche, also shown in the background of the first
photograph. The interior was bright white with pink and gold
trim with a massive red marble nave -- a truly marvelous church,
clearly recently renovated. I followed the market strand at
left to the second walking bridge leading to the old city. At
the end of that bridge was a gorgeous white building called the "Zunfthaus
aus Pfistern". Next to it was a tall stairway leading up to
the main street.
||The main street
was incredible. Like those in Bavaria, numerous buildings on
this street were covered with elaborate and colorful murals, like
this one. There were several squares with buildings like this
such as the Fischmarkt and Hirschenplatz, the latter containing the
town hall. The buildings also had colorful flags mounted on
them, hanging over the street.
around the downtown for a while, I headed up the bank to the old
city wall, a section of which is shown here. As you can
see, it is remarkably well-preserved, with seven towers still
standing and the full wall connecting them. Each tower was
different -- some had an open observation deck, others had a spire
on top. One of them, the Zytturm, had an original-style
medieval pendulum clock mounted inside. Four of the towers
were open to visitors, and I climbed them all.
||This was a shot
from the Schirmerturm, the tower furthest away from the city, taken
in the direction of the lake. In the distance, one can see the
Alpine mountains rising up into the fog. Lucerne's Alps are
among the tallest in the region, and naturally have lots of skiing
available in the winter and gondola rides in the summer.
Unfortunately, the weather did not permit taking a ride up those
|This was also
taken from the Schirmurturm, pointing directly down at the Reuss.
Here was the second covered wooden bridge, also containing part of
the sequence of historic murals. Facing the opposite direction
toward the surrounding hills, I saw the Gutasch Hotel, a fantastic
palace-like structure that had its own funicular train leading up to
||I returned to the
old city and went to Lucerne's famous war
memorial, the Loewendenkmal, shown here. This memorial
was carved into a cliff one block northeast of the old town.
Depicting a wounded lion inside the outline of a boar, it commemorated
Swiss merceranies killed in an 18th century battle. Next door was Lucerne's glacier museum
(Glechtergarten), a geological museum that shows how the impact of the Ice Age
on Swiss topography. The Glechtergarten has several geologic and historic
exhibits including several scale models of Switzerland's alpine region, dioramas
and slide shows about the ice age, and a large converted mansion showing life in
19th Century Switzerland. I highly recommend it.
|My next stop was
St. Leogard Square and its Hofkirche, located east of the old city.
The Hofkirche stood at the top of a long stairway, shown in this
photo. Flanking both sides of the church were lovely white and
maroon half-timbered houses like the ones shown here.
||It was a real
shame with the weather. I moved down lakeside to the old
harbor and the strand, beautifully decorated with tulips and other
spring flowers for better than a kilometer. This particular
harbor was the Nationalquai, one of several along the way. I
followed the walking path all the way down to the Lido, Lucerne's
lakeside city park, then returned to the old city for dinner.
As this gallery shows, Lucerne was very beautiful, and this
wasn't even all the best shots. I would have posted those if it wasn't for
the heavy rains. Oh well, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
Trip Taken 11 May 2002 -- Last Updated
01 September 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin