I visited this glorious city in 2008. I'll never forget its beauty and grandeur. It is the geographical heart of Switzerland, more poetically described by Alexandre Dumas as "a pearl in the world's most beautiful oyster." Lucerne is an undeniably magical city. A medieval but still modern town nestled in a uniquely beautiful landscape - that is Lucerne, the city of lights. It's striking profile faces the world-famous Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) surrounded by the impressive panorama of the Alps.
Lucerne was a fishing village in the Middle Ages but the modest settlement soon became an important trading center after the St. Gotthard pass was opened and goods were transferred from ship to land transportation. The city was founded in 1178. Driving through the Gotthard Pass was to me a huge thrill. I so admire how these tunnels are bored through the mountains so we can zip through in any weather. So thoughtful.
Dotted throughout with many Renaissance and Baroque fountains, colorful paintings on the gables and commanded by the two exquisite wooden bridges, the Mill Bridge (Spreuerbrücke) and the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) with the 13th century octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturm), Lucerne's character is pure charm. This is not just tourist-speak. It is magical.
The heritage of this historic locale and of Switzerland itself is palpable in every landmark. The Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) is a fine example of a Renaissance building whilst the City Wall (Museggmauer), built between 1350 and 1408 stands proud above the city.
A stroll along the quay takes the visitor past the modern Culture and Convention Center, the KKL and onto the largest and most important Transport Museum (Verkehrshaus) in Europe, including a filmtheatre and the only Planetarium in Switzerland.
The famous Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal) bears witness to the old tradition in Lucerne of mercenary soldiers. The nearby Glacier Garden, a geological phenomenon left over from the Ice Age with giant glacial potholes is a proof that Lucerne was once covered by glaciers.
This is the hotel where the sunbakers were out in their hundreds. I climbed to the highest point then rang my children from on top of the world (or it felt like it.)
Spectacular views and sights abound from almost every vantage point in and around Lucerne. Mt. Pilatus has the world's steepest cogwheel railway which wasn't running when I visited in winter. I took the chairlift. It was magical leaving frozen Lucerne with the smell of roasting chesnuts, to climb above the fog through the forest, then to arrive at the top of the mountain to find hot sun and people sunbathing. For just a moment I could forget the snow an imagine I was on a beach in Australia - just kidding! Wow! It was magical meandering through the tunnels they've bored through the peak which gave views over Lake Lucerne and beyond.
There's also Mt. Rigi, the Queen of the mountains, with Europe's oldest cogwheel railway, Mt. Titlis, the highest peak of Central Switzerland, covered with eternal ice and snow all year round and Mt. Stanserhorn with its revolving restaurant offer spectacular views over one of the most breathtaking landscapes on earth.
A paddle steamer ride around Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) takes in the majesty and scenery of this beautiful area. A short drive will take you to the nearby winter resorts and many more lakes. This is the alpine range in central Switzerland where you will find glaciers, lush forests, verdant valleys and so much more. What a gorgeous destination. Even though it was so freezing during my stay I'm glad I saw it in its pristine sparkling white coat.
This is the Hotel Guetsch where I stayed. (Just kidding, but my digs weren't half bad.)
I hope you enjoyed my tour around Lucerne. A lovely place to visit. I hope to go again. Crunch! Crunch! Oh those chesnuts!