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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Lucerne

Lucerne (in German Luzern), lies at the north end of Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstätter See) at the point where the River Reuss flows out of the lake. For more than a century the town, with its well-preserved medieval core and elegant historic old buildings, has been one of the great tourist attractions of Switzerland. Eminent conductors, soloists and orchestras appear at the annual music festival.

Lucerne first appears in the records in 840 as Luciaria. The name comes from the Benedictine monastery of St Leodegar, founded about 730. After the opening of the St Gotthard pass in the 13th C. it became an important trading town. In 1291 it fell into the hands of the Habsburgs, but in 1332 joined the Confederation. After the occupation of the whole of Switzerland by Napoleon in 1798 Lucerne was for a brief period capital of the Helvetian Republic.

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Chapel Bridge

Wooden Chapel BridgeWooden Chapel Bridge View slideshow
The most characteristic feature of Lucerne is the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), a covered bridge running diagonally across the Reuss (1333). Hanging from the rafters of the roof are more than 100 17th C. pictures depicting local saints and scenes from the town's history. Beside it is the octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturm, 13th C.), once part of the town's fortifications.
The Kapellbrücke was gutted by fire in 1994. It has been completely rebuilt and restored.

Reuss Bridge

The Reussbrücke (Reuss Bridge) was built in 1877 on the site of the oldest "Pons Lucernensis" (first mentioned in 1246 and 1253). The steel diagonal construction has been replaced by a copy (1989/1990).

Spreuerbrücke

Downstream from Lucerne's Reussbrücke is another covered wooden bridge, the Spreuerbrücke (1406), decorated with scenes from the "Dance of Death" (17th C.).

Natural History Museum

The Nature Museum which includes ecological exhibit with living animals in Lucerne.
Minerals, fossils, flora and fauna from central Switzerland are studied in the Nature Museum plus a hands-on live animal exhibit.
Address: Kasernenplatz 6, CH-6003 Luzern, Switzerland

Old Town

Building in the Old TownBuilding in the Old Town View slideshow
The Old Town of Lucerne, on the right bank of the Reuss, still preserves many old burghers' houses and little squares with fountains.

St Peter's Chapel

The Peterskirche -St. Peters Church in Lucerne.
In the Kapellplatz is the oldest church in Lucerne, St Peter's chapel (1178), which received its present form in the 18th C.

Old Town Hall

In Lucerne's Kornmarkt is the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus, 1602-06), in Italian Renaissance style but with a very typical Swiss hipped roof. The adjoining tower dates from the 14th C. and is by P. A. Isenmann.

Picasso Collection

The Picasso Museum in Lucerne.
200 photos of Picasso by photographer David Douglas Duncan plus Picasso ceramics and metal sculptures are housed in the Am Rhyn-Haus.
Address: Am-Rhyn-House, Furrengasse 21, CH-6004 Luzern, Switzerland

Weinmarkt

Painted facades in Weinmarkt square in Lucerne.
To the west of Lucerne's Kornmarkt is the picturesque Weinmarkt; the Late Gothic fountain (1481) by K. Lux is a copy (original in the courtyard of the Regierungsgebäude).

Museggmauer

Along the north side of Lucerne's old town runs the Museggmauer, a wall built between 1350 and 1408, with nine towers built in differing styles.

North shore of Lake Lucerne

Along the north shore of Lake Lucerne, to the east of Schwanenplatz, extends a series of broad tree-lined quays lined with shops and hotels - Schweizerhofquai, Nationalquai and Spittelerquai - from where there is a magnificent panorama of the Alps. To the left is the Rigi group, in the middle the Bürgenstock, to the right the Stanserhorn and Pilatus, and beyond, in the distance, the Glarus and Engelberg Alps.
In Nationalquai are the Kurplatz and the Kursaal (restaurant).

Hofkirche (church)

Above Nationalquai, on the site of the old monastery of St Leodegar, is the twin-towered Hofkirche (R.C.), which was rebuilt in 1634-39 but preserved the towers (1525) of the previous church. On the north tower a Late Gothic sculpture depicts the Agony in the Garden. The church has a carved pulpit and choir-stalls of 1639 and a famous organ (recitals in summer). In the picturesque arcades which surround the church are the tombs of members of old Lucerne families.

Löwenplatz

From Lucerne's Kurplatz, Löwenstrasse leads north to the Löwenplatz, to the right of which is the Panorama, a large circular painting (11,000 sq. m/118,360 sq. ft) by the Geneva battle painter Castres, with the collaboration of Hodler and other Swiss painters (1877-79). The painting depicts in highly realistic fashion the retreat of the French Eastern Army into Switzerland in 1871.

Lion Monument

Lion MonumentLion Monument
A little way north of Löwenplatz, to the rear of the pool, is the famous Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal), a huge figure of a dying lion hewn from the face of the living rock. The monument (1820-21), designed by Thorwaldsen, commemorates the heroic death of the Swiss Guards (26 officers and over 700 troops) who were killed during the attack on the Tuileries during the French Revolution (1792).

Glacier Garden

The Glacier Garden (Gletschergarten), is a remarkable relic of the Ice Age which was exposed between 1872 and 1875 (open March-October): glacier-polished rock, erratic boulders and 32 pot-holes, some of them of huge size, with a working model showing the process of formation of a pot-hole. Higher up are an early climbers' hut and a lookout tower. In the museum are relief maps of Switzerland, groups of Alpine animals, specimens of rock and old domestic interiors.
Address: Denkmalstrasse 4, CH-6006 Luzern, Switzerland

Regatta

On the outskirts of Lucerne, 1km/ 0.6mi north, is an elongated lake, the Rotsee, on which a well-known regatta is held every year.

Lake Bridge (railroad station)

On the south bank of the Reuss, extending east to the lake and linked with the Schwanenplatz by the busy Seebrücke (Lake Bridge; 1935-36), is the Bahnhofplatz; here are the new railroad station and the landing-stages used by the various boat services. A replacement bridge is planned for the end of 1991, along with a new railroad station. In the gardens stands the Wagenbach fountain (1934).

Jesuit Church

Jesuit ChurchJesuit Church View slideshow
In the part of Lucerne's old town that extends west from the station along the left bank of the Reuss are the Municipal Theater and the Jesuit church, a Baroque building (1666-77) with an elegant Roccoco interior (1750).

Government Building

Lucerne's Regierungsgebäude (Government Building) adjoining the Jesuit church was formerly a Jesuit college, the core of which is the Ritter palace, a Renaissance mansion (1557-64) built by Lukas Ritter, a local dignitary who had grown rich in foreign service. In the handsome arcaded courtyard can be seen the original of the Weinmarkt fountain. To the rear of the building is the Neo-classical Chamber of the Great Council (1841-43). Close by are the Cantonal Archives.

Franciscan Church

The Franziskanerkirche (Franciscan) Church, the oldest Church in Lucerne.
Southwest of Lucerne's Regierungsgebäude stands the Franciscan church (13th-17th C.; completely restored 1988-1989), the nave walls of which have paintings of flags and banners (carved pulpit 1628, choir stalls 1647-51). In front of the church (also known as the Barfüsserkirche or Church of the Barefoot Friars) is the Barfüsserbrunnen, a copy of the original of 1651.

Central Library

Southwest of the railroad station is Lucerne's Central Library (Zentralbibliothek) containing over 400,000 volumes and pamphlets, 2,500 manuscripts and over 800 incunabula.

Dietschiberg (view of town)

On the north side of Lake Lucerne, just off Haldenstrasse, is situated the lower station of the funicular to the Dietschiberg (632 m/2,014ft). There is a fine view of Lucerne and the lake from the top. Near the upper station there are a cafe-restaurant, a golf-course and a miniature railroad (scale 1:10).

Costume and Folk Museum

Below Dietschiberg, to the southwest, is a park with the interesting Utenberg Costume and Folk Museum (Schweizer).
Address: Utenberg, CH-6006 Luzern, Switzerland

Swiss Transport Museum

Old Train, Swiss Transport MuseumOld Train, Swiss Transport Museum View slideshow
Beyond the funicular station in Lucerne, Haldenstrasse continues to the fascinating Verkehrshaus der Schweiz (Swiss Transport Museum, Schweizerisches Verkehrsmuseum; entrance in Lidostrasse). The museum is a large complex of exhibition halls and outdoor exhibits covering all forms of transport, including air and space travel (cosmorama), communications and tourism, with railroad locomotives and rolling-stock, ships, aircraft rockets and automobiles (originals or models), together with a Planetarium. By means of 150 projectors the sky can be seen through a 18m/59ft-wide dome.
The tourism department, opened in 1984, contains the largest pin-ball machine in the world and is an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
At the east end of the complex is the Hans-Erni-Haus which contains paintings and graphic art by the well-known Lucerne artist of that name, and also a lecture hall.
In the summer of 1996 the museum inaugurated the first IMAX theater in Switzerland.
Address: Lidostrasse 5, CH-6006 Luzern, Switzerland

Gütsch

To the west of Lucerne, on the edge of the extensive Gütschwald, is the Gütsch, a hill which affords extensive views. It is reached by funicular from Baselstrasse or on foot by way of the Gütschweg (1.5km/1mi).

William Tell Express (rail service)

Route: Lucerne-Flüelen-St Gotthard-Locarno-Lugano and vice versa. Highlights: The William Tell Express links two of the most attractive districts of the country: Central Switzerland with Ticino. From May to September you can travel by paddle-wheel steamer (out of season by a diesel motorboat) from Lucerne on the Vierwaldstätter See to Flüelen (a three-course meal is served in the ship's saloon); then follows a rail trip in a club car or panorama car of the SBB through the impressive Gotthard massif as far as the towns of Locarno and Lugano.
Special Details: During the boat trip the route is explained in several languages, and for the rail section a written description is provided. The kernel of the trip is the journey on the Gotthard Railroad. The William Tell Express excursion can be combined with several other trips and excursions. Because of limited accommodation reservations and booking should be made in good time.
Address: Werftstrasse 5, CH-6002 Luzern, Switzerland

Easter Festival

This annual three-day festival takes place during the Easter weekend and includes at least two daily events. There are usually orchestral, choral, chamber and organ concerts, theatrical performances and recitals, with repertoires in line with the traditional religious spirit of the weekend.
The venues also complement the season, and include the various churches as well as the Kunsthaus.
Two of the concerts are part of liturgical services. Morning and evening performances are held every day.

International Music Festival

This annual three-week festival runs from mid-August to early September and is equally renowned for its program and breathtaking scenery. The many daily events include orchestral, choral, chamber and organ concerts, recitals, dance performances and film screenings. Various lectures and exhibitions accompany the main performances.
Since its inception in 1938, the festival has been acclaimed for bringing together world-class performers in impressive venues including the Kunsthaus, the Lion Monument, the Jesuit Church and many other historical buildings.
Address: Hirschmattstrasse 13, Postfach 6002, CH-6003 Luzern, Switzerland

Bourbaki Panorama

The unique 10m x 110m round painting by the artist Edouard Castres, dating from 1881 portrays an incident from the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/71. The visitor stands in the middle of this realistic three-dimensional scene.
Address: Löwenplatz 11, CH-6004 Luzern, Switzerland

Historical Museum

Historical Museum with colorful painted shutters near Weinmarkt in Lucerne.
Weapons, flags, costumes, gold and silver, medieval paintings and textiles plus three to four special exhibitions each year are displayed at the Historisches Museum.
Address: Pfistergasse 24, Postfach 7437, CH-6000 Luzern, Switzerland

Museum of Art (conference center)

Swiss painting and sculpture with emphasis on 19th C Swiss landscapes and international and Swiss post-war art is offered as is a concert hall with some of the world's best acoustics.
Address: Europaplatz 1, CH-6002 Luzern, Switzerland

Swiss Flying Club

The Aeroclub der Schweiz gives information about circular flights in Switzerland, the Alps, towns and other trips in aircraft. Special departments for gliding and parachuting.
Address: Lidostrasse 5, CH-6006 Luzern, Switzerland

Adligenswil - Fire Brigade Museum

The Fire Brigade Museum in Adligenswil highlights firefighting during the 19th century focusing on rural fire brigades.
Address: Buggenacher 7, CH-6043 Adligenswil, Switzerland

Surroundings

View from Mt PilatusView from Mt Pilatus

Ascent of Mt Pilatus

Ascending Mt Pilatus usually involves a trip up on the cableway and down on the cog railroad.

Sightseeing Nearby:

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