Lucerne: Small Town Charm

JUNE 2011…

For my next excursion, I went to Lucerne, a popular city 52 km southwest of Zurich. Sitting on the edge of yet another river-lake (this time Lake Lucerne and River Reuss), Lucerne was just the right size for a day trip.

En route from Zurich to Lucerne, Switzerland.

The scenery en route from Zurich to Lucerne.

The experience started right out of Zurich in the cool comfort of a double-deck train. 50 minutes of gorgeous scenery later, I arrived at Lucerne. A majestic arch greeted me as I walked out of the station (it used to be the station gate before the fire of 1971).

Lucerne train station, Switzerland.

The majestic arch in front of the Lucerne train station.

The main attractions of Lucerne are the Chapel Bridge and the Spreuer Bridge further downstream. The Chapel Bridge, with its iconic Water Tower, is Lucerne’s most famous landmark and Europe’s oldest covered bridge.

Chapel Bridge, Lucerne.

The Chapel Bridge with its iconic Water Tower…

The wooden bridges were so old-school, walking along them felt like a trip back in time to the 14th century when they were first built.

Spreuer Bridge, Lucerne.

And the Spreuer Bridge with its mini chapel.

Unique to these two bridges (the only one of its kind in the world) are the series of 17th-century paintings that line the interior. These paintings tell of noteworthy events in Swiss history, including the ones depicting the Dance of Death from plague in the Spreuer Bridge.

The Dance of Death paintings inside the Spreuer Bridge, Lucerne.

The Dance of Death paintings inside the Spreuer Bridge.

The history tour continued on the Museggmauer. These old town walls used to ring-fence the medieval town and are lined with watch towers. Out of the nine watch towers, four are open to the public.

One of the nine watch towers that line the old town walls in Lucerne.

One of the nine watch towers that line the old town walls.

Climbing up from one end of the fortress, I traced the walkway to the other end, looking into the watch towers along the way and admiring the view of Lucerne from it. It was so much fun I didn’t want to come back down.

The view of Lucerne from the old town walls.

The view of Lucerne from the old town walls.

But come back down I must, as there was more to see. Famous as they are, Lucerne is not just about its bridges and old town walls. The entire old town is a charming work of art with its 15th-century buildings. Just look at what walking down the street turned up.

Waterfront restaurants in Lucerne.
Waterfront restaurants in Lucerne.

The beautifully painted facades of waterfront restaurants…

Jesuit Church, Lucerne.

And the baroque-styled Jesuit Church.

Satisfied with my inspirational harvest, I bade farewell to Lucerne and headed back to Zurich.

Small in size, large in nature
Though Switzerland is much smaller in size compared to its famous neighbours, it has an impressive reputation as the go-to place to see nature – mountains, lakes, waterfalls (just not the sea). Equally famous are its picturesque towns and villages, like Lucerne. And they do not disappoint.

I’m not sure if it was the fresh alpine air or the delicious Swiss chocolates, but Switzerland was definitely one of those places that put a smile on my face and made me feel that life is good. Definitely something we need more of these days.

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