City guide Lucerne
Complete with gable paintings, the covered, medieval Chapel Bridge forms the centrepiece of Lucerne’s townscape and is considered to be one of the oldest, covered wooden bridges in Europe. A further landmark of the town is the Museggmauer, a wall which, with the exception only of one of its towers, has been preserved in its original, well-fortified state.
Historic houses decorated with frescoes line the picturesque town squares as they do the ‘Weinmarkt’ square in the car-free old town. Lucerne is a city of town squares and churches. The Jesuit church dating from the 17th century is regarded as Switzerland’s first sacral Baroque building and the twin towers of the Hofkirche form an integral part of the townscape. The figure of a dying lion which was hewn from the face of rock in remembrance of the heroic death of Swiss guards killed during an attack on the Tuileries in 1792 is one of the best-known monuments in Switzerland. And with its 112-metre-long Bourbaki panorama, Lucerne possesses one of the world’s few maintained, mammoth circular paintings.
Tradition and modernity stand side-by-side with ease in Lucerne, as the town has also earned a reputation for itself with innovative design. The futuristic Culture and Convention Centre (KKL), designed by leading French architect Jean Nouvel, is one the architectural highlights of the town. The KKL is also a landmark of «Lucerne: Festival City» and venue for a wide variety of cultural events throughout the year.
Lucerne is the ideal starting point for many excursions to the highlights of central Switzerland. A trip up one of Lucerne’s regional mountains, the Pilatus or the Rigi – the queen of mountains – is a must. But excursions up onto the Stanserhorn, the Bürgenstock or a steamship cruise on Lake Lucerne with its many bends and arms are certainly no less worthy. The Wilhelm Tell Express originates in Lucerne and ferries its passengers to the foot of the Gotthard pass via Lake Lucerne and then continues by rail into Ticino, south of the Alpine ridge. The «cherry road» leads from Lucerne through the landscape of cheery trees and kirsch.
Lucerne has a picturesque lakeside setting, against an impressive mountain backdrop. Architectural gems, such as the celebrated KKL Luzern by Jean Nouvel or the famous Chapel Bridge.
- Chapel Bridge – one of Europe’s oldest wooden bridges and landmark of Lucerne, faithfully restored to its original design after a serious fire.
- Culture and Convention Centre of Lucerne (KKL) – unites a large concert auditorium, the convention centre and the art museum under its imposing roof.
- Swiss Museum of Transport – one of the most diverse museums in Europe for transport and communication, and the most-frequented museum in Switzerland. Has its own IMAX cinema on site.
- Lake Lucerne – the scenic beauty of the lake can be discovered on the many different cruises offered by paddlewheel steamers and motor vessels.
- Pilatus, Rigi, Stanserhorn – excursion mountains made accessible by cableways, offering up picture-book panoramas of the regions around Lucerne.
- Lucerne Festival – several concert series of classical music of a world-class standard, held throughout the year (Easter, summer, November).
- Luzerner Fasnacht – one of the most original and colourful carnival events in Switzerland (February).
- «Fumetto» International Comics Festival – presents comic art from the avant-garde and independent scene every spring (April).
- Blue Balls Festival – an important music festival in Switzerland. International stars take to the stage in lakeside venues and in the Culture and Convention Centre (July).
- Summer Night Festival (Luzernfest) – music and stands around the lakeside as well as magnificent fireworks attract tens of thousands of eager onlookers from throughout Switzerland to Lucerne (August).
- Lucerne Blues Festival – every year aficionados of culture and music lovers eagerly await the release of the programme for the Blues Festival in the Grand Casino Lucerne (November).