Wordsworth's Lucerne

Although lacking the cosmopolitan air of Zurich, Geneva or Bern, Lucerne nevertheless is one of the most delightful cities. Small enough that you can take a walking tour easily but large in its offerings of excellent hotels, restaurants, shops and sights, made more attractive by a magnificent setting.


Wordsworth's Lucerne

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Gaires2359 on July 27, 2004

Discover for yourself the picturesque city that is Lucerne. Standing at the foothills of the St. Gotthard Pass, and bordering the lake of the same name, which winds deep into the Alpine ranges of Central Switzerland, Lucerne, is a fabulous starting point for many rewarding excursions to scenic places of interest.

The gentle waterscape contrasts with wild, magjestic scenery. A worthwhile endeavour is an excursion on the shores of the beautiful Lake Lucerne, which is dotted with quaint villages on gently rolling hills with towering mountains beyond.

The north bank of the Reuss is home to the Old Town’s compact cluster of medieval houses, with Mühlenplatz, Weinmarkt, Hirschenplatz and Kornmarkt forming an ensemble of cobbled, fountained squares ringed by colourful facades.

Kapellplatz, at the bridgehead of the Kapellbrücke, encircles the tiny eighteenth-century St-Peterskapelle, built over a predecessor dating from as early as 1178. Some 150m west is Kornmarkt, site of the medieval public marketplace. On one side, overlooking the riverside market area of Unter der Egg, is the huge Rathaus, completed in 1606 in Italian Renaissance style but crowned with an oddly incongruous Emmentaler-style roof. The market atmosphere survives today, with stalls selling vegetables, fish and flowers beneath the arcades along Unter der Egg doing a roaring trade every Tuesday and Saturday morning. Kornmarktgasse runs west to the atmospheric frescoed Weinmarkt, where Passion Plays were staged in the late Middle Ages.${QuickSuggestions} The Lake Luzern Navigation company operates large and comfortable steamers and a wide selection of half- or full-day excursions, which can be combined with a trip to the top of a mountain. The company has 18 boats, five of them paddle steamers, and there are boat departures every hour, with a restaurant on board some services.

Just off Kornmarkt, at Furrengasse 21, is Am Rhyn-Haus, an old restored building now housing the fascinating Picasso Museum (daily: April to October 10am to 6pm; November to March 11am to 1pm and 2 to 4pm; Fr.6; SMP). The whole collection was donated to the city by the Rosengart family, friends of the artist. The ground floor is given over to temporary exhibits, while the first upper floor displays a series of Picasso’s paintings, including the wonderful Femme et Chien Jouant (1953) and La Coiffure (1954), as well as drawings, ceramics, sketches, and etchings, one of the most striking of which is the tender Portrait A.R. (Angela Rosengart). Upper floors hold the highlight of the museum, nearly 200 intimate and often brilliant photographs of the artist’s private life taken by American photographer David Douglas Duncan from 1956 until Picasso’s death in 1973.${BestWay} Contact:
Lucerne Tourism Ltd.
Tourist Information
Zentralstrasse 5
CH-6002 Luzern
Phone +41 (0)41 227 17 17 Fax +41 (0)227 17 20 luzern@luzern.org


Astoria

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Gaires2359 on October 11, 2004

The rooms are typical of a Swiss hotel: comfortable, efficient, but a lot larger than you'd expect. It is a four-star hotel after all.

Centrally located, it is only a 5-minute walk to the Central Train Station where there is a McDonald's around the corner and some convenient stores and delis below the train-station level.

The hotel is also only a 10-minute walk to the Kappelbrucke, and the central part of Lucerne where the shopping district is located.

The little Thai cafe/take-away on the lobby floor is popular amongst the locals.

There is a dining hall at the penthouse level (on the seventh floor), which boasts magnificent views of the landscape of the Alps or the Museggturme. Lunch or dinner is served here by trainees from various Swiss Hostelry Schools. The menu changes on a weekly basis and is a set course, which includes an appetizer (soup or salad), main meal, and dessert with coffee or tea.

After dinner, you may want to adjourn to the disco on the same level, which is also very popular with the local crowd.

For reservations, you may also Fax ++41 41 210 42 62 or email: info@astoria-luzern.ch.
Astoria Lucerne Hotel
PILATUSSTRASSE 29
Lucerne, Switzerland, 6002
41 41 226-8888

Saddest Swiss Lion of Lucerne (and surrounds)

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Gaires2359 on July 28, 2004

Das Löwendenkmal, a.k.a. The Lion Monument or "Lion of Lucerne," is a masterpiece created in the early part of the 19th century. Awe-inspiring and mournful, it is dedicated to the memory of the heroic fight and final defeat of the Swiss Guards in 1792 in Paris. The fateful day of August 10th marked the beginning of the bloody days of the French Revolution. When the Bourbon King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, together with their children, were brought back to the Tuileries Palace in Paris after a failed attempt to escape the French Revolution. Working-class Parisians stormed the royal palace - the Tuileries - and the Swiss regiment of the Guards were forced to lay down their arms by the order of Louis XVI, which resulted in their massacre.

Known as a universal symbol of courage and strength, the lion was designed by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen and was hewn into the sandstone cliff between 1820 and 1821.

Depicting a dying lion with its paw poised over the shield bearing the fleur-de-lys of the Bourbon king, a broken lance pierces its heart, signifying its loyalty in protecting the shield to its death.

The effort to erect the monument was initiated by Ch. Karl Pfyffer of Altishofen and was made possible by donations from the comrades and friends from the different regiments. It was executed by Lukas Ahorn, who hewn the image into the rock face. The niche in the rock wall measures about 43 feet and the animal alone is 30 feet. Inscribed in Latin are the following words: HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI or THE LOYALTY AND BRAVERY OF SWISS.

And the names of the martyred soldiers, including the 26 officers and 16 soldiers who were sacrificed, are also inscribed below the lion.

The sculpture is set amidst tranquil foliage and a gently rippling pool in front, a perfect setting for contemplation.

Adjacent to the Löwendenkmal is The Gletschergarten (Glacier Garden - www.gletschergarten.ch), which holds within its grounds a museum displaying old relief maps of Luzern and Switzerland, including a set of geological potholes retelling the subtropical ocean beach that was Luzern some 20 million years ago. Also housed in the museum is the original stucco model of the lion.

The Alpineum opposite is a relic from a bygone era, with static models of Alpine scenes behind a glass display which no doubt will spark the imagination of our great-grandparents, but today they come across as a little dry.

On Löwenplatz, a huge circular building houses the Bourbaki Panorama, recently re-opened after renovations. The panorama itself is a huge mural depicting the retreat of the French Eastern Army under General Bourbaki into Switzerland during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to 1871.

From the waterfront, walk along Alpenstrasse or Lõwenstrasse towards Löwenplatz. And from the square, facing the Bourbaki Panorama, take a left turn walking about 1 minute uphill on Denkmalstrasse, passing a block of souvenir shops, and then reaching the monument.

Lucerne Lion Monument
Denkmalstrasse 4
Lucerne, Switzerland

Musegg Wall (Museggturme)

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Gaires2359 on October 11, 2004

This is a series of nine towers that are part of the rampart walls that surround the city. They span approximately 800m around the city.

Built in 1386, the wall stands almost entirely intact due to the fact that Lucerne was never really under any harm, thanks to its strategic location amongst the Alps.
Three of the towers are open to the public: Schirmer, Zyt, and Männli, but are only open between May to October. Admission is free.
Often overlooked on visits to Lucerne, you should make this part of your itinerary as a visit gives you a panoramic and breathtaking view of the entire city and the lake.
The view from the towers is even more romantic during dusk. So if you do have the opportunity, be sure to take a visit, as they are open ‘til 8pm.
There is a restaurant nearby, along Karli-Strasse, called the Chang-Cheng, which literally translates into "great wall." The restaurant serves pretty good Chinese fare at a reasonable price, and after a hearty meal, you can burn off those sweet-and-sour pork calories by taking a climb up the Zyt tower nearby.
You can access the towers by strolling west from Weinmarkt along the river on St- Karliquai, past the sophisticated-looking hydroelectric turbines on the Reuss. The route will bring you to the Nölliturm, the first of the fortified gates marking the southwestern stretch of the wall. Pass through the gate and head right up the hill to gain access to the Musegg battlements. This is an oddly rustic corner of Luzern, cut off from the city behind the walls, and you may well come across a cow or two quietly grazing back here, residents of a part-time urban farm. Stairs rise to the top of both the Männliturm and, further along, the Luegisland-Turm (Countryside Viewpoint Tower), but the battlements walk properly starts at the Wachtturm. From here, you can follow the parapets along to the Zytturm, with the oldest clock in Luzern (granted the honour of chiming one minute before all the others in the town). It was built by Hans Luter in 1535.
The bizarrely ugly statue down below is called Urweib, by local artist Rudolf Blätter, such an unpopular fixture that the municipality had to unveil it in secret one evening. The rooftop walk continues to the Schirmerturm adjacent, gutted by an arsonist in January 1994 and still bearing smoke-blackened stones.
Musegg Wall (Museggturme)
Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne, Switzerland

14th-Century Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge)

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Gaires2359 on October 11, 2004

Lucerne has two wooden-covered bridges across the River Ruess. Lined with flowers, the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) is the more famous of the two, and together with its octagonal water tower, it appears in just about every photograph ever taken of Lucerne.

Constructed during the first half of the 14th century as a part of the city's fortifications, the bridge takes its name from the St. Peter's Chapel located nearby.

Dating back to 1333, part of the bridge was rebuilt after a boat tied to it caught fire in 1993 - a most unfortunate incident that saddened the people of Lucerne and the Swiss in general. Under the replacement roof are scenes from national and local history, which are photo reproductions of the originals.

The original paintings in the gables, under the eaves, were added in the 17th century and depicts scenes of Swiss and local history, including the biographies of the city's patron saints, St. Leodegar and St. Maurice.

The sturdy octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturme) -- standing 34m high -- was built around the same time as the bridge. It was used as an archive, treasury, prison, and torture chamber.

Along with the Kappellbrucke, the Water Tower is Lucerne's next most frequently photographed monument in Switzerland.

Near the sights are quaint alleys and enchanting medieval buildings. In the city's arcades on Tuesdays and Saturdays in particular, you can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the market crows as you shop.
Chapel Bridge
Rathausquai and Bahnhofstr
Lucerne, Switzerland

Poetry in Motion

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Gaires2359 on October 11, 2004

Known by its citizens as a city for pedestrians, there are many accessible pathways that make seeing the sights of Lucerne on foot a joy. Take a leisurely stroll alongside the River Reuss and sample the delightful atmosphere, marvel at the Kappellbrucke and its Water Tower, or cross over the Spreuer Bridge into the Jesuit quarter.



The Tourist Information Centre offers a guided city walk around Lucerne, which will tell you the important, humorous, and interesting facts about Lucerne's history, churches, bridges, narrow streets, towers, and squares, as well as its trademark-the Chapel Bridge with Water Tower.



Duration: approximately 2 hours



The guided city walk is available daily from May 1 to October 31, and on Wednesdays and Saturdays during November 1 to April 30.



You can also purchase a special ticket that includes sightseeing and a city tour on the City Train (approximately 3 hours) for CHF 24.


Hofkirche

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Gaires2359 on October 11, 2004

Being the main cathedral of the city, this used to be a Benedictine monastery founded in the 8th century.

In 1633, a fire destroyed the church; it was rebuilt in 1645. It is deemed to be the most important Renaissance church in Switzerland. Especially noteworthy are the facades, Mary's altar (with a relief panel dating from 1500), and the souls' altar.

From St. Leodegarstrasse, which runs directly from in front of the Bucherer shop, the road cuts east to broad steps, which lead up to the Hofkirche.

This grand structure is dedicated to St. Leodegar, or St. Leger. The Romanesque church, which then replaced the monastery in the late 12th century, was burned to the ground on Easter Sunday 1633; the blaze reputedly sparked by the verger’s careless shooting at birds. Only its twin towers escaped. The main doors are carved with the two patron saints of Luzern: on the left is St Leger, a French bishop who was blinded with a drill (which he is holding), and on the right is St Maurice, the martyred Roman soldier-saint.

The interior design and furniture are almost original Renaissance from the 1630s and 1640s, rarely found in Swiss or European churches. A large proportion of which underwent renovation and embellishment during the later Baroque period. Elaborate pews are divided into individual seats, which were reserved for city councillors, while the plainer pews on the left were for the rank and file. Behind the exceptionally fine choir screen – one of the earliest examples of a strong 3-D perspective used to draw the congregation’s attention forward – is the high altar in black marble, flanked by statues of the two patron saints. Above the Italianate depiction of the Agony at Gethsemane is a half-length figure of God. The carved choir stalls, as well as the beautiful pulpit, are the work of Niklaus Geissler. Against the north wall (left) is the extraordinarily lavish Death of the Virgin altar, showing Mary on a bed surrounded by disciples. Dating from around 1500, this was the only relic to survive the 1633 fire. The mighty organ, bedecked in ornaments, feature 2,826 pipes, along with a machine to mimic the sound of rain and a special register for thunder and hail.

The church is set amidst a lovely Italianate cloister, lined with the graves of Luzerner patrician families (who continue to be buried here to this day). Old houses all around the church still serve as the homes for canons of the parish. Just west of the church is the ancient Rothenburgerhaus, a teetering pile that’s generally held to be one of the oldest wooden townhouses in the country, dating from about 1500. On the slopes north of the church is the old cemetery, now a public park.
Hofkirche - Hof Church
Lucerne
Lucerne, Switzerland

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