Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne was founded in 750 AD and is located near the Alps in north central Switzerland.  With +76,000 people it is the 8th largest city in the country.

The Reuss River runs through the city and there are a number of bridges.

The most famous bridge is the Kappelbrücke (Chapel Bridge).  It is the oldest covered bridge in Europe.  The 204 m (669 ft) long wooden bridge was originally built in 1333.

Fire damaged in 1993

However, a big portion of it had to be replaced due to fire damage sustained by a discarded cigarette in 1993.

Inside the bridge are 17th century paintings.

Nearby the Kappelbrücke is the 13th century Water Tower.  It is over 34 m (~112 ft) high and was built ~1300.  Over the years it was also used as an archive, a treasury, a prison and a torture chamber.

The Baroque Jesuit Church was built in 1666.

The Hofkirche sits on the site that used to be the first monastery in Lucerne.

The old town is quite colorful with some very cool buildings.

The coolest thing about Lucerne was the Lion Monument.  It is just awesome!  Carved out of natural rock, it commemorates the hundreds of Swiss Guards who were killed during the French Revolution when a mob stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris back in 1792.  It was carved from 1820 to 1821 and it is massive.  It measures 6 meters high and is 10 meters long (~20 feet by 33 feet).

Apparently there is almost an exact copy of the lion at the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta called the Lion of Atlanta which guards a field containing the remains of unknown Confederate and Union soldiers.  I'll have to try and visit it when I'm back home in September. 

And of course no visit to Switzerland would be complete without the mandatory fondue.  Good times!!

Here's a Rick Steves clip from YouTube to fill in any details I may have missed.

©Rick Steves

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