Lucerne, located in central Switzerland at the foot of the Swiss Alps, is simply stunning. From the minute I stepped off the train and caught a glimpse of Lake Lucerne, reflecting snow capped peaks in its swan-filled waters—the city perched at its edge—I was smitten.
Bridges & Waterways
Criss-crossing the water are several medieval covered wooden bridges, seasonally laden with flowers, and originally built as part of the city’s fortifications. Views of the city from the bridges are unbeatable. The most picturesque bridge is Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge, built in the 14th century and lined with triangular paintings with scenes from Swiss history and legends.
Downriver is Spreuerbrücke, or Mill Bridge, said to be the oldest covered bridge in Europe, with a small chapel right in the middle. This bridge is lined with Kaspar Meglinger’s “Dance of Death” painting series, depicting unique ways to die.
Buildings and bridges are gracefully reflected in the still water which runs through the heart of town to Nadelwehranlage, or Needle Dam, which is unique because it consists of retractable wooden walkways where wooden boards are added or removed by hand as needed to control the water flow.
Churches in Lucerne
The Jesuit Church of Lucerne, or Jesuitenkirche, is one of the city’s most decorative churches, filled with pink baroque and rococo touches, and bathed in light from the many unadorned windows and predominantly white walls. One of the most amazing things about this church is that it appears to be filled with marble, which turns out, is actually painted and polished stucco and plaster on wood. It looks so real that the only way to verify this is to knock (gently) on a faux marble pillar, in which case you’ll hear a definite hollow sound, and notice it doesn’t feel cold to the touch like real marble.
Looking for more interesting churches? Be sure not to miss Hofkirche, or Hof Church, at the top of a steep set of stairs with its giant, intricately carved automated wooden doors.
The Sammlung Rosengart Museum is filled with Picassos and Klees, among others. 32 paintings from Picasso’s later years and 125 watercolors, drawings, and paintings by Paul Klee, one of Switzerland’s most famous artists, line the walls of this museum.
Colorful Holiday Festivals
Lucerne is particularly stunning around the holidays with ice skating and festive Christmas markets. But perhaps the most famous festival of all is Lucerne’s Carnival. Winter is ushered out with parades of colorful costumes and masks accompanied by Guugenmusigen, or carnival musicians, and lots of singing and dancing. (This year carnival takes place from February 7-12th, 2013.)
For a luxurious stay boasting splendid lake views, Hotel Schweizerhof can’t be beat. Full of old world charm and modern touches, this hotel also has an elegant chandelier-laden restaurant with glass walls overlooking the lake.
Surrounding Alpine Setting
As picturesque as the city of Lucerne is, nothing can beat the beauty of the surrounding Swiss Alps. A boat trip on Lake Lucerne or a train ride up to the mountains is a necessity of any visit to Lucerne. Join us next time as we journey to the top of Mount Rigi for some quality time up in the Swiss Alps.
-Lucerne is Switzerland’s 8th largest city, with a population of 60,000.
-Known as the “City of Lights,” the name stems from an old legend of an angel who brought light to Lucerne’s first settlers, showing them where to build their church.