Lucerne is the most visited town in Switzerland. All those tour groups that spend one
day in each country in Western Europe choose Lucerne as their Swiss destination. The
number of parking spots set aside for tour buses alone is rather daunting to see. There
are two major attractions, the old town center and the Lion Monument. Dubbed "The
saddest rock in the world" by Mark Twain, this impressive carving of a dying lion was
finished in 1821. It commemorates 700 Swiss mercenaries who fought on behalf of the
royalty in the French Revolution of 1792. After laying down their arms in surrender, they
were massacred by revolutionaries.
The rest of Lucerne is a little more upbeat. This is the center of all tourist activity, the
Kapellbrucke. This covered bridge and its tower dates from way back in the 12th century although
it was destroyed by fire more recently and has been restored to its former appearance.
A series of more than 150 panels are set in the rafters of the bridge which detail the history
of Lucerne (if your attention span actually lasts that long). A second covered bridge just
downstream features the a more macabre series of panels on the Dance of Death.
Along the north bank of the Reuss river are a series of outdoor cafes which you might be
able to get a seat at if you have an hour or two to lurk nearby waiting for a table to
open up. A veritable flotilla of swans can be found circling nearby as well, at least
partially because they're constantly being fed by people sitting at the cafes.
Up above the town on a hill are the fairly intact remains of the city walls. The battlement walk
is open to the public although we did not take it. The two taller towers in this photo are connected
by the walls which circle about half of the old city. You might pick out the clock on one tower.
Oddly enough, that's the oldest clock in Lucerne and is thus granted the right (honor?) of chiming
the hour one minute before all the other clocks in the city do. What more can be said about that?
On the north bank stretching back from the river are a maze of tiny cobblestone alleyways.
Many of the buildings here are impressively frescoed, and an assortment of statues surmounting
fountains (such as the one in the foreground here) add to the colorfulness of it all.
Lucerne sits where the Reuss river flows out of Lake Lucerne (aka the Vierwald-Statter See).
The assembled panorama below covers the entire old city area and the Alps are visible in the
distance across the lake. Lake cruises are exceedingly popular in the summer months.
A little ways south of Lucerne is yet another picturesque alpine lake, the Lungern See. We stopped
alongside the road for a few photos like this one, with the town of Lungern in the background.