Home ] Up ] Travelogues ] Features ] E-Cards! ] Helpful Links ] Lists! ] About the Site ] About Us ]



Sign Guestbook

View Guestbook

Contact Me

Home Page > Travelogues > Switzerland > Lucerne (a.k.a. Luzern)


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 hours.

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 the right. 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.
After walking 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 gondolas.
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 it. 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 the 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

FOTW Flags Of The World website