Lucerne, Switzerland – A City to Fall in Love With
The world-famous historic city of Lucerne is located in Switzerland in the heart of Europe. Due to its central location on the idyllic Lake Lucerne, surrounded by mighty mountains such as the 3000 meter high Titlis or the imposing Pilatus, Lucerne city nickname is “Switzerland in Switzerland.”
Here you will find everything: the lake, the mountains, the city – an exact composition of nature and human work, preserved and carefully developed for centuries: Lucerne – the human metropolis of Central Switzerland, culture and congress city with a way of life.
Lucerne is the city to fall in love with. The stranger who visits her leaves her as a friend.
The city of Lucerne
Lucerne is the capital of the Canton of Lucerne and, in many respects, the most crucial place in Central Switzerland is the cultural center and core of the fourth largest agglomeration in Switzerland.
The geographical location as a traffic junction on the north-south axis, at the transition from the Central Plateau to the Alps and the gateway to Central Switzerland, and the unique scenic beauty of the surroundings have always shaped the history and development the city.
An actual “founding act” cannot be identified for Lucerne. Presumably, there was already a small settlement at the lake’s outflow in Roman or even earlier times. The monastery of St. Leodegar Wim Hof has existed since the early 8th century and was first mentioned in documents in 840. A critical market gradually developed around the Reuss bridge, which connected the Dinghofe to the south with the monastery. Historians see the town’s birth in the transfer of the parish from the monastery in the courtyard to Lucerne in 1178. The opening of the Gotthard Pass around 1220 provided new impulses for growth. From the Grendel over the Grabenstrasse to the Muhleplatz, a first tower-fortified wall ring was built at this time, which also encompassed the still little tiny town on the left bank and found its conclusion towards the lake in the Chapel Bridge and the water tower.
In 1291 Lucerne was acquired by Rudolf von Habsburg. The city citizens defended themselves against restrictions on their autonomy and concluded a perpetual covenant with the Waldstatten in 1332. The year 1332 is one of the most critical dates in Swiss history. The first permanent and temporary equality between town and country was of great importance for the development of the confederation.
It seems that only the accession of Lucerne ensured the survival of the young confederation. Subsequently, a rapid development towards a city-state began. The victory of the Confederates at Sempach in 1386 finally freed Lucerne from its ties with Austria and enabled the formation of the Lucerne territorial state. A visible sign of the rise in power is the relocation of the wall ring to the outside and the construction of the Musegg Wall by 1408. The Lucerne Council now also became sovereign over 14 bailiwicks or offices. By the end of the 18th century, a patriciate of only 29 named families ruled the entire city-state. However, despite its dominant position as the center of Catholic Switzerland and the center of a large subject territory, Lucerne was still a small town with a mere population4300 of around 1800.
As the first city in the confederation, Lucerne had always occupied a particular position, and its geographical location would have predestined it to become the Swiss capital. However, since our canton was the leader of the defeated 1847 Sonderbund and voted by a majority1848 against the federal constitution, Bern ultimately became the Swiss capital. The city, therefore, gratefully seized the opportunity in the mid-19th century to regain some of its lost position with the help of tourism.
On Sightseeing Tour
Lucerne is not just a bridge city today. It was already one in the Middle Ages. There were already four bridges here around 1400 was unprecedented in all of Europe. The Hofbrücke, built around 1250 (demolished in 1834), and the Kapellbrücke, built around 1300, was part of the city’s fortifications. The Spreuer Bridge served to connect the lower parts of the city. It is because only chaff and leaves could be poured into the Reuss from here.
The Reuss Bridge, which today appears less attractive, was the oldest river crossing and made a decisive contribution to the city’s development. Only in the and19. century20. Five more bridges were added: 1870 the Seebrucke, 1890 the Geissmattbrucke, 1908 the St. Karli-Brucke, and finally the 1974 Autobahnbrucke.
Nevertheless, Lucerne is also the city of squares, palaces, and churches. The Easter plays were performed in the late Middle Ages in the wine market. On the Kornmarkt, the city built a public store around 1370. It also served as a granary and was later converted into the town hall. Kapellplatz, Hirschenplatz, Muhleplatz and Franziskanerplatz have also preserved remnants of their historic cachet. Court church, town hall, and knight’s palace are important monuments of the late Renaissance, while the Jesuit Church is one of the most important Baroque churches.
The Franciscan Church is considered the most beautiful Gothic church in Central Switzerland. The water tower and the Chapel Bridge, both built around 1300, are the landmarks of Lucerne. The oldest preserved wooden bridge in Europe shows in the gable on triangular panels a cycle of paintings created in the 17th century. A large part of the bridge and the paintings were almost destroyed by fire on August 18, 1993. The reconstructed bridge was reopened on April 14, 1994. In the meantime, numerous paintings have also been restored or replaced.
Like the Chapel Bridge, the octagonal water tower was part of the inner city fortifications and served as an archive, treasury, and prison. Lucerne’s second wooden bridge, the Spreuerbriicke, was built around 1408. It also has a picture cycle from the 17th century, namely the famous Dance of Death, consisting of 65 panels by Cas- par Mellinger.
The 800 m’s long Musegg Wall with its nine towers was built around after1400 the Sempcher War and is today considered one of the best-preserved and longest defensive walls in Switzerland. Among the world-famous monuments is the Dying Lion by the Danish sculptor Thorwaldsen. It commemorates the Swiss Guard that defended the French king during the Tuileries storm on August 10, 1792, and lost their lives.
With the Bourbaki Panorama, Lucerne possesses one of the world’s few preserved monumental circular paintings. Edouard Castres painted a depressing scene from the Franco-German war of 1870/71: the crossing of General Bourbaki’s defeated army into Switzerland.
Lucerne and tourism
After Lucerne had remained a small medieval town until the end of the 18th century, the modern development and change of the city began after 1830 with the emergence of tourism. By the middle of the 19th century, the Jesuitenquai, the promenade Unter der Egg and the Schweizerhofquai were created by filling in and in the following decades also the Nationalquai with the Kursaal. At the same time, the demolition of the Hofbrucke bridge and the demolition of the towers40 and gates along with their ring walls led to the de-fortification of the city.
After 1875, the Musegg hill began to be built over. While in the middle of the century, Lucerne still had 10,000 inhabitants on 57 hectares, in 1890, there were40’000 already more than three times that number in the same area. 20’000.1.
Before 1900, a series of magnificent large hotels and many infrastructural constructions were built. In 1836 the age of steam navigation on the lake began, and from 1859 Lucerne was reached by rail. Before the 1st World War, there was even the first Swiss airship station on Tribschen.
The First World War and the world economic crisis threw Lucerne years behind in its tourism efforts. Nevertheless, the1933 Kunst- und Kongresshaus designed by Armin Meili could be opened. In 1938, international music festivals were held for the first time. The Second World War brought another slump, and the recovery after the war took several years. American military vacationers helped overcome the initial difficulties. In the fifties and sixties, the number of overnight stays rose steadily from 700,000 to over 850,000, approaching the million mark in the seventies and exceeding it several times in the next decade.
Tourism is a crucial economic sector for the city of Lucerne (incl. the region “Lucerne – Surroundings”), which is one of the ten most attractive destinations in the world (survey “Condé Nast Traveler 1991). The amount of tourism-induced value added is CHF 715 million (2000). The employment effects of tourism affect about 9’400 employees. Within the city of Lucerne, the share of the city’s GDP (gross domestic product) is 8.7%.
Group travelers make up the vast majority of guests, staying an average of 1.7 days in Lucerne. Americans, who account for around 24% of all overnight stays, spend an average of 1.8 nights in the city of lights. Lucerne’s tourism has achieved an above-average growth rate throughout Switzerland thanks to a sophisticated branding concept, not least in the Asian market. Asia has become an essential region of origin for Lucerne, accounting for around 20% of overnight stays. However, Lucerne is not only famous abroad. More and more Swiss people are spending their short vacations here or planning business trips to centrally located Lucerne. This leads to a considerable share of overnight stays of around 22%.
Tourism and the resulting number of overnight stays are sensitive to economic crises and geopolitical events. As a result, overnight stays fluctuate in +/- 10% around the million mark. Passion Plays in Oberammergau, Bavaria, periodically taking place makes Lucerne a busy season for overnight stays, as U.S. visitors plan a visit to Lucerne as part of their trip to Europe.
Things to know about Lucerne
Thanks to its uniquely beautiful location, Lucerne has become known worldwide. Nestled between gentle hills, the city lies at the outflow of Lake Lucerne, its face turned towards Lake God, glorified by poets and composers. A unique panorama opens up here, stretching from the Rigi to the Pilatus and conveying the most varied moods depending on the weather, time of day, and season.
With over 81 000 inhabitants, Lucerne is the eighth largest city in Switzerland. Suppose one adds the agglomeration population, which is structurally grown together with the city, then the number triples. Because of its size, central location, and economic potential, Lucerne can be called the capital of Central Switzerland. On the political level, however, the city of lights does not exercise any supremacy because each of the four Waldstatter has consistently pursued its independent policy.
Lucerne, the city of lights
One often hears and reads about Lucerne as the “city of lights.” This name has nothing to do with the above-average intelligence of its inhabitants but goes back to a miracle of light. According to an old legend, an angel showed the first inhabitants of Lucerne with light the place where they should build a chapel in honor of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of fishermen and sailors.
A City With a Great History
While Lucerne was still a fishing village in the Middle Ages, derided as a “little wooden stork’s nest,” it developed into a flourishing commercial city over the centuries. Its location on the Gotthard transit led to fruitful international relations in the economic and cultural fields.
Since time immemorial, the church and the military have determined the lives of Lucerne’s citizens. Through lucrative military alliances, the patricians were able to fill the city’s coffers as well as their own. Eloquent testimony to the loyal fulfillment of duty in the service of foreign sovereigns is provided by the rock-hewn monumental Lion Monument. It commemorates the Confederates’ heroic but futile defense of the French king Louis XVI.
As faithful followers of the Pope, the people of Lucerne have always stood up for the Roman Catholic faith, have been leaders of the Catholic towns, and have granted hospitality to the papal nuncio. In Lucerne, the Jesuits helped shape religious, political, and cultural life from their appointment in 1574 until their expulsion after the defeat in the War of the Confederation in 1847. We owe them, among other things, the festive Jesuit Church, the first baroque sacred building in Switzerland.
City of bridges and towers
Lucerne’s cityscape’s main accents are the two covered medieval wooden bridges that connect the large and the small city. At the end of the lake, the Chapel Bridge crosses the Reuss River in a slight bend. It was built right after the water tower, erected around 1300, and connected by a footbridge. This defiant, octagonal tower, a landmark of the city of Lucerne, used to serve various purposes: as an archive, storage place for precious booty, safe for the state treasure, and a prison and torture room. In 1408, the Spreuer Bridge was built below the city mills to omd8wo lower ends. Its name comes from the fact that only chaff and leaves could be poured into the Reuss from this bridge.
The two bridges were not built primarily as pedestrian connecting paths but as parts of the city’s fortification. They closed the gaps in the city walls above the water-like battlements. In the 17th century, the two bridges were decorated with triangular picture panels, which were fixed in the roof truss: on the Chapel Bridge with scenes from the history of the city and Switzerland as well as from the legends of the two city patrons, St. Leodegar and St. Mauritius; on the Spreuer Bridge with a death dance cycle. Until the 19th century, Lucerne had another covered wooden bridge, which connected the court district with the big city. This oldest and longest of the three footbridges had to make way for the Schweizerhofquai, built up in stages.
The Zyt tower, visible from afar, is the oldest clock in the city and the surrounding area. The reverence of the people of Lucerne for the old is shown by the fact that this clock has the privilege of striking the hours one minute before the other city clocks. Typical for Lucerne is also how the Musegg towers, the town hall tower, and the water tower are maintained and used. Most of them are rented out to societies for a modest fee, such as the Safran and Wey guilds. In return, these societies have repaired the towers with their labor and resources and hold annual open days.
City of art and culture
On the afternoon of August 25, 1938, Arturo Toscanini conducted Richard Wagner’s “Sigfried Idyll” in the park of Tribschen in front of an audience of about 1,200. The music and the performance venue had been deliberately chosen. Wagner had spent the most fruitful and happiest period of his life at the Tribschen country estate. Here, he had created for his wife Cosima the “Siegfried Idyll” as a serenade for the birth of his son. Toscanini’s concert marked the glittering start of the Lucerne Festival (formerly the Lucerne International Music Festival Weeks), which has since attracted music lovers from all over the world every year. Lucerne is also known for its three-part theater, producing remarkable performances with relatively modest resources in spoken theater, opera, and ballet. The Lucerne Theater is rightly regarded as a springboard for talented artists.
Lucerne also does not need to hide in the visual arts sector. The Museum of Art in the Culture and Congress Center Lucerne confronts its visitors with the latest modern painting and sculpture trends in alternating exhibitions. At the same time, it has the task of collecting modern Swiss art. Those inclined towards the art of the 19th century will find what they are looking for when visiting the Bourbaki Panorama. Here, the vast circular painting created by Edouard Castres shows the Bourbaki army crossing the border at Les Verriéres during the Franco-Prussian War. A special treat of contemporary art is visiting the venerable Am-Rhyn House near the town hall, which houses a high-quality collection of works from Picasso’s late period. It is a generous donation to the city of Lucerne by the Picasso friend and art dealer Siegfried Rosengart. In addition, since March 2002, 200 Paintings and drawings by over twenty world-famous masters of the and 19.century20. It can be admired in the museum of the Rosengart Collection.
In addition to the established arts, a diverse cabaret also flourishes in Lucerne, with the cabaret created by the famous “Emil” (surnamed Steinberger) deserving special attention. The cultural highlight of each year is the carnival. It is in the blood of the Lucerne people. It breaks out like a hurricane on Dirty Thursday, takes hold of the city for a week, and ends in the early hours of Ash Wednesday. An important and typically Lucerne component of the historically grown traditional carnival is the “Guggenmusigen,” which always comes together for a “rüdig schönen” monster concert and then parade through the old town.
The night of the murder in Lucerne
Since the opening of the Gotthard Pass, Lucerne had developed from an insignificant fishing village to an important trading center thanks to its favorable location. However, the political and economic freedoms of the city of lights were severely restricted by the strict rule of the Austrian dukes. As the Lucerne people strove for independence and autonomy, they concluded a perpetual alliance with the neighboring forest dwellings of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden on November 7, 1332. However, not all Lucerne citizens agreed with this alliance decision. Many supporters of Austria planned a coup in favor of the old dominion. On the night of JuIy24. The time had1343 come. Around midnight, the conspirators gathered secretly under the Schwibbogen of the Zunfthaus zu Schneidern. They had identified themselves with red sleeves and were equipped with armor and weapons. They planned to break into the houses of the Confederates by surprise in order to finish them off.
While discussing the battle plan, they were overheard by a boy who had previously fallen asleep under the arcades. When he tried to sneak away, he was grabbed and confronted. Trembling with mortal fear, he confessed to them that he had overheard their conspiratorial deliberations. Because he was still very young, he was given life. However, he had to swear by God and the saints not to tell anyone, even a dying word, about their plans. He gladly complied with this order and took the required oath.
After they had released him, he hurried to the wine market, for he knew that there was still business in the guild house of butchers at this late hour. However, how was he to save Lucerne from the planned upheaval if he could not speak to anyone? There he had a ret-tendentious idea. He entered the inn and pushed past the tables where guild members talked over food and drink. In front of the tiled stove, he began to complain in despair: “Oven, O oven, if only I could speak!” and continued in a loud voice: “Oven, O oven, I have to tell you! Astonished, the guests turned to the boy and wanted to know if anything was missing. The boy, however, continued to talk to the oven and told everything he had heard about the conspiracy under the Egg.
Now the butchers knew. They hurried home as quickly as they could, took up arms, and alerted the Confederates. They arrived just in time to capture the conspirators. Thanks to their distinguishing mark, the red sleeve, they were easy to spot. They were indeed given their lives, just as they had given them to the boy. Nevertheless, the leaders of the Austrian party were banished from the city and their goods confiscated.
Unfortunately, not even the name of the clever and courageous boy who saved his hometown from harm has survived.