Lucerne is a wonderful Swiss city rich in history and natural marvels. No surprises, it was well loved by British, French and Russian aristocracy back in time.
We stayed there for one night at the beginning of April – and who would’ve guessed that it’d be snowing as hell! But anyway, the views were even more beautiful this way:)
Read in my blog what to see in one day, where to stay and what to eat in Lucerne!
As soon as you leave the train station and cross the bridge over the River Reuss, you see some of the main medieval constructions of the city. First of them is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), the symbol of Lucerne, built in 1333. Over 200 m long, it’s truss design is quite unique. It has a roof covering the passage and the triangular paintings dedicated to the history of the city, and it’s made out of wood. No surprises, the fire of 1993 destroyed a big part of it including the majority of the art pieces: only 30 out of almost 160 survived that tragic event.
The bridge is accompanied by the Water Tower Wasserturm – a former arsenal and prison.
There is also another truss wooden bridge on the Reuss river called Spreuer Bridge (Spreuerbrücke) built in 1408 and also decorated with paintings.
Between two bridges Needle Dam Nadelwehr is located – by moving these wooden ‘needles’ pictured it’s possible to protect the city from floods.
Of course, Old Town is a must see. Cobblestones and lavishly painted houses create an amazing atmosphere and take us back in time. A lot of shops are located in this area as well.
The 17th century Rathaus, or the Lucerne Town Hall, is right in the heart of it – it’s hard to miss it as its clock tower is visible from almost everywhere.
Medieval wall Museggmauer with several towers is another well preserved historical landmark and was used to protect the old town. The oldest clock is located within one of the towers.
This fortification built in the 14th century was the hardest spot to conquer for us due to the stormy and snowy weather: it was all extremely slippery and wet. But we’ve succeeded: climbed the hill without breaking any bones, got into one of the towers and got our reward that was an amazing panorama of Lucerne.
The Dying Lion monument is very important for the whole of Switzerland and was even characterised by Mark Twain in The Tramp Abroad as the most mouthful and moving piece of stone in the world.
The injured massive animal carved into the stone represents the Swiss Guards who died during the French Revolution: in 1792 the revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace, and Swiss guards died trying to protect King Louis XVI. The thing that surprised me is that the sculpture is really huge: 10 to 6 meters. I included the visitors into the shot for the scale.
Just in a few steps from it, Glacier Garden is situated.
I bet that everyone can find something interesting there for oneself: exhibits such as those of plants or dinosaurs showing the natural history of the location, geographical history of the last Ice Age such as the traces of glacier and potholes, mineral and fossils collection, objects reflecting the daily Swiss life of the 19th century, Alhambra mirror maze constructed initially for the Swiss National Exhibition’1896 or the observation tower.
I would highly recommend you to see the Bourbaki Panorama as well (it’s located just steps away from the Lion Monument) – the museum and a 360 degrees huge panorama (112 m long!) painting created in 1881 by Édouard Castres.
It depicts the consequences of the defeat of French army in the France-Prussian War when thousands of soldiers – exhausted, injured or dying, with little food and lack of warm clothes – headed to Switzerland for refuge. Painting is elevated by several 3D figures and objects and Museum information helps to understand the influence of the events on Geneva convention and modern warfare.
Rosengart Collection Museum
For more art, pop into the Rosengart Collection Museum located in the Swiss National Bank Building as well, if you have time.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside, but it has the most wonderful collection of Picasso including some photos of him: Siegfried Rosengart and his daughter Angela were friends of his and had the unique opportunity to acquire pieces of art directly from the painter. Angela even sat for him on several occasions. In addition, there is a collection of Klee, Miró, Chagall, Monet, and others in these museums as well.
Undoubtedly, you cannot miss historical religious spots as well: Hofkirche, Franciscan Church, and Jesuit Church.
The Church of St. Leodegar
Hofkirche, or The Church of St. Leodegar, was build in the 17th century on the place of a destroyed basilica and still includes some parts of its predecessor. Signature features of this church are two towers and stunning interior decorations including an altar from the 15th century in the northern part of the nave.
Glorious Barocco-styled Jesuit Church of St. Francis Xavier consecrated in 1677 was a stronghold of Catholicism in the country where Protestantism grew stronger and stronger.
Finally, Franciscan Church Franziskanerkirche combines several architectural styles including Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. Some parts of it originate from the 13th century.
And, of course, we have an elephant in the room. Lake Lucerne, or, as it’s also called – “Lake of the Four Cantons”, is a marvelous natural gem framed by mighty mountains (well, in sunnier weather of course. We were sadly robbed of this). I enjoyed watching boats and swans both from my room and the promenade, it felt very meditating – and as if the Tchaikovsky’s music from the Swan Lake was flowing around!
Finally, don’t forget simply to stroll around and enjoy the city! For instance, I hunt the flowers covered in snow 🙂
Where to stay?
We were kindly hosted by a marvelous Grand Hotel National which first opened its doors to the public in 1870. It’s situated right on the shore of Lake Lucerne with some astonishing views over both Old city and Lake Lucerne guaranteed.
The interiors of rooms, bar and breakfast hall are really pretty. From the outside it looks like a proper palace, doesn’t it?
What and where to eat in Lucerne?
Lucerne offers many gastronomical experiences that would suit any taste! These are my suggestions:
- Buy some chocolate at Bachmann. Their Easter collection was especially adorable!
- Eat a Schnitzel with noodles prepared right in front of you at the Old Swiss House
- Dip some bread and potatoes into your choice of melted cheese in the Fondue House!
What else to see in Lucerne?
We wanted very badly to go to Mount Pilatus but considering the weather, it would’ve not made any sense. Hope you’ll be luckier than us! You might also like to pop into the Swiss Museum of Transport or Richard Wagner Museum.
Hope you enjoyed today’s blog,