The first time I visited Lucerne was 22 years ago. My husband, three-year old daughter and I had to cut short our stay in Lucerne by one day because our passports, money and my new Olympus camera had been stolen in Zürich two days earlier. While my husband searched frantically for the stolen bag, I went to look for a police station to report the theft. Unfortunately, I did not speak German or French and none of the people I approached understood English! Those who spoke English were tourists and no better off than me! Finally, a passer-by who read my desperate hand gestures pointed me in the direction of the police station. It turned out to be a small music store specialising in the sale of Police (the band) memorabilia!
Two hours later after searching unsuccessfully for the bag and police station, we made our way back to our hotel and got the manager to help us contact the police. Luckily for us, our passports (sans money and camera) were retrieved the next day from a local resident’s trash bin. We were able to continue with our journey to Lucerne, albeit a day later. With my camera stolen so early into our holiday, I did not take any photos during the rest of my stay in Switzerland. I was still trying to get over our setback in Zürich and that affected my mood.
Lucerne has not changed a lot since my second visit five years ago. It is still a “modern” medieval town, full of history and character, set against a mountainous backdrop and generous water features.
The Chapel Bridge stands out as the centrepiece of Lucerne’s townscape. It is considered to be the oldest wooden footbridge in Europe, dating back to the 14th century.
Only a few bridges in the world can boast of having old paintings under their roofs. Chapel Bridge has more than 100 early 17th century paintings under its roof! However, I must add that the “wow” factor is a bit lost by the fact that the bridge was destroyed in a fire that broke out in 1993. What we see today is a restoration of the original bridge.
Adjacent to Chapel Bridge is the Water Tower or Wasserturm. This octagonal-shaped tower built in the 1300’s does not have a happy history. It was used as a prison and torture chamber before being converted to an archive and treasury. The Water Tower typifies Lucerne, so it is not surprising that it is the most photographed monument in Switzerland!
The old town is adjacent to the river. It is a charming little town, with a good mix of restaurants, speciality stores selling clothes, timepieces and chocolates, souvenir shops, churches and galleries. As cars are not allowed, it’s pretty easy to take a leisurely stroll along the cobbled streets and and enjoy the atmosphere and buildings.