I arrived into Lucerne with plenty of light to explore the 1386 ramparts, with its nine towers, and parts of the old city. I had been warned to not be in the clock tower when it went off as it was deafening – as the first city clock of the town it had the privilege of chiming one minute before the others. Impressive with its nine metre pendulum.
The lake and river, which eventually joins the Rhone, is a significant feature of the old town – with a weir having been established to regulate water flow. The timber needle system seemed quite archaic but it was good to see they’d established a harness safety line for the guys who took on the job of adding or removing the needles.
I ventured back to my accommodation missing Karyn’s companionship. Like an angel my wonderful cousin, Leanne, phoned so we caught up on each other’s travel tails. It was lovely to relive Italy through some of their recent adventures.
Not knowing what I was actually looking at I joined a city tour the next day. Turns out Lucerne has a fiery past with it having lost the original Chapel Bridge (named so because it leads to St Peter’s Chapel) and the train station to fires. The former was restored within a year of its destruction in 1993 using original techniques and materials whereas the train station got a complete workover in glass – only the original entry remains. I was more partial to the Mill bridge (both were part of the city’s fortification hence the outer side of the balustrade was higher than the inner) because it still had all of its original 17th century triangular frescoe paintings. The paintings each contained the coat of arms for the family that had sponsored the painting.
The old paintings on the buildings were interesting, giving you a story of the owners or what had occurred there – jeweller, weighing scales for fish markets and Goethe for his time visiting Lucerne.
The baroque Jesuit Church with touches of rococo style, constructed in 1666, had an all white interior with no stained glass windows making it very well lit. I thought the faux marble was clever – they couldn’t get marble so used a special paint technique over the timber columns.
I took a walk up to the ‘dying lion of Lucerne’ sculpture hewn into the rock face. It had been established as a dedication to the 900 mercenaries who died after being sent to Paris by the Swiss in 1972 to protect Louis 16th during the French Revolution. Mark Twain had described it as the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world – I had to agree.
I was glad I’d made the detour to this pretty little town. It is said to be the birthplace of Switzerland having brought all of the cantons together. The constitution of Switzerland had been finally established in 1848.