Lucerne, Switzerland

Incredibly serene with incredible scenery … that begins to describe Lucerne. Now add in the world’s oldest wooden truss bridge, a beautiful lake, the majestic mountains and a few passing swans. This lovely combination is irresistible.

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1 Swans, Lake Lucerne and Swiss Alps in Lucerne, Switzerland

Wow, please sit down among the swans at Schwanenplatz and savor one of the prettiest views in central Switzerland. Across Lake Lucerne behind the sightseeing boats is KKL which stands for Kunstmuseum Luzern or the Museum of Art. Next to it is the train station. But all of this simply frames the majestic view of the snow-capped Swiss Alps. On the left is Mount Pilatus and the 590 foot peak on the right is the massif called Rigi. I call it breathtaking.

Schwanenplatz 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland
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2 Swans at Schwanenplatz in Lucerne, Switzerland

At the confluence of Lake Lucerne, the Reuss River, and the Old Town of Lucerne, Switzerland is Schwanenplatz or Swans’ Square. This center of the city on the river’s north or right bank is a haven for relaxing families with little boys who love to feed and then chase the square’s main residents: the swans.

Schwanenplatz 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland
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3 Rectangular Swiss Flag Flying Over Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, Switzerland

Since 1889, Switzerland’s flag has been a red field with a large, equilateral white cross. Notice this one is rectangular which is the shape reserved for Swiss boats. Typically, their flag is square which is true of only one other country. The Red Cross flag, which is the reverse of Switzerland’s, was designed to honor them for hosting the first Geneva Convention. In the background are Lake Lucerne and Hofkirche.

Loshüsli 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland
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4 Buildings Along Nationalquai from Seebrüeche in Lucerne, Switzerland

The quays or promenades along Lake Lucerne are meant to be strolled casually while enjoying the panoramic Swiss beauty. The moored boats, charming buildings, and Church of St. Leodegar’s towers are along Nationalquai. This view is best seen from the Seebrüeche bridge where the Reuss River empties into Lake Lucerne.

Seebrücke 6003 Lucerne, Switzerland
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5 Church of St. Leodegar Façade in Lucerne, Switzerland

A long and steep set of stairs leads up to St. Leodegar im Hof, but it is worth making the climb to see this landmark of Lucerne, Switzerland. The Church of St. Leodegar was built in 1639 after a Roman basilica burned a few years before. But the history of this hill dates back to 736 when an abbey for St. Mauritius was here. St. Leger became the patron saint of Lucerne in 1135. Hofkirche is now a parish church and monastery.

St. Leodegarstrasse 6, 6006 Lucerne, Switzerland
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6 Church of St. Leodegar Arched Entrance in Lucerne, Switzerland

Before you pass through the arched entrance of St. Leger in the Court church, look up between the twin towers. On the keystone are the crests of Lucerne and the Imperial Eagle held by the church’s patron saints, St. Leger and St. Mauritius. In the center is St. Michael slaying the dragon. Above the rose window and clock is a sculpture of the Bible and the Ten Commandments.

St. Leodegarstrasse 6, 6006 Lucerne, Switzerland
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7 Assumption of the Virgin Mary Plate in Lucerne, Switzerland

I have been to countless churches around the world but I do not recall seeing a depiction of the Virgin Mary on her deathbed. This beautiful Gothic plate called “Death of the Virgin” is in the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Altar in the Church of St. Leodegar. Its origin is unknown but it survived a devastating fire in 1633. The Twelve Apostles are grouped around her, while angels and God wait in the heavens.

St. Leodegarstrasse 6, 6006 Lucerne, Switzerland
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8 Medieval Half-timbered Buildings in Lucerne, Switzerland

During the Middle Ages, many of the European homes were half-timbered which means their wood framing is exposed like these at St. Leodegarstrasse. This Medieval building is now the four-star Hotel Zum Rebstock and the Hofstube bistro where the locals enjoy the art with their glass of wine while eating excellent Swiss and French cuisine. The other building was used as a guildhall for winegrowers during the 14th through 16th centuries.

Stiftstrasse 5 6006 Lucerne, Switzerland
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9 Carnival Mural by Robert Ottiger in Lucerne, Switzerland

Among Lucerne’s many charms are the buildings adorned by paintings and murals. This one over the Restaurant Fritschi is my favorite. Created by local, freelance muralist Robert Ottiger in 1985, it features many of the characters and masked bands (called Guggemuusige) that parade through the streets during the annual Lucerne Carnival the week before Ash Wednesday.

Sternenpl. 5 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland
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10 Chapel Bridge, Rathausquai and Reuss River in Lucerne, Switzerland

The northern bridgehead of Kapellbrücke used to be connected to St. Peter’s Kapelle, which is how Europe’s oldest wooden covered bridge derived its name Chapel Bridge. Today, it is separated by this promenade along the Reuss River called Rathausquai. In front of the hotels are restaurants that serve their guests outside on delightful afternoons. This corner of the right bank marks the beginning of Lucerne’s Old Town.

Kapellbrücke 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland
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11 Wassertum Water Tower in Lucerne, Switzerland

Attached to the Chapel Bridge is the Wassertum. Translated it means water tower, but this octagonal, windowless, 140 foot stone structure was part of the city’s fortification when it was built in the 14th century. Despite its beauty, it was formerly a dungeon, prison and torture chamber before becoming a state treasury. It is one of the most photographed landmarks in Lucerne but, unfortunately, it is not open to the public.

Kapellbrücke 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland
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12 Swimming Swan Beneath Chapel Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland

No visit to Lucerne, Switzerland is complete without walking across the world’s oldest truss bridge and hearing the wooden boards creak below your feet while staring up at the 17th century paintings within its triangular frames. The Kapellbrücke, also called Chapel Bridge, was built across the Reuss River in 1333. In the background are the Wasserturm water tower and the majestic, snow-capped Swiss Alps. The perfect accent is the swimming swan.

Kapellbrücke 6004 Lucerne, Switzerland
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13 Couple in Tower of Gutenberghof in Lucerne, Switzerland

At Morgartenstrasse 7 in Lucerne, Switzerland is a lovely, five-story building where this couple was enjoying the romance of having a private balconey below a copper statue of Thomas Murner. He opened the first printing shop here in 1525, which is why it is called Gutenberghof after the German inventor of the printing press.

Morgartenstrasse 7 6003 Lucerne, Switzerland
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14 Old Train Station Arch in Lucerne, Switzerland

A magnificent railway station was built in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1896 but was destroyed by fire in 1971. All that remains is this arch which once was the terminal’s main portal. On top is a statue called Zeitgeist or “Spirit of Our Times” by Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling. It stands in a square in front of the new terminus that was constructed in 1991.

Bahnhofpl. 1 6003 Lucerne, Switzerland
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15 Train Station Mural by Maurice Barraud in Lucerne, Switzerland

This gorgeous wall mural that is enclosed in glass on the western façade of the SBB Lucerne train station was painted around 1929 by Maurice Barraud, a 20th century artist from Geneva. It is called Nord et Sud or North South. It barely survived a devastating fire to the terminal in 1971. Unfortunately, his other paintings were destroyed. Another one of his famous murals stands behind the presiding officer’s table at the United Nations in Geneva.

Bahnhofpl. 1 6003 Lucerne, Switzerland
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16 Hauptpost Main Post Office Façade in Lucerne, Switzerland

The main post office in Lucerne, Switzerland was built in 1888 in a Neo-classical style by Gustav Guhl. Called the Hauptpost, it features delightful Romanesque statues atop Corinthian columns.

Bahnhofstrasse 3, 6002 Lucerne, Switzerland
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