I have been putting this off for too long, so here goes: this is the first out of a series of city introductions, so to speak. I will be talking about – and showing photos of cities that I have visited and liked and which I am sure you will like too. There won’t be any short posts here, so put your reading glasses on (I mean, if you need them) and get on with it!
I’m starting with a place I’ve seen about three weeks ago but was too lazy to write about:
Luzern (or Lucerne or Lucerna or..Lozärn? For a country with 4 official languages, I guess it’s normal for every city to have at least two versions of its name) is a rather large city in central Switzerland – in the German speaking part, that is. It’s also the capital of the canton of Lucerne, so I’d say it has a pretty major importance.
A bridge over the Reuss River
As for things worth seeing, probably the most iconic place here is the Kapellbrücke – a bridge built in 1333 (or a long, long time ago, for those of you who aren’t very good with numbers and/or history) to somehow fight off enemies. How a bridge would do that is beyond me. What makes it so special are the paintings on the inside – triangular depictions of scenes in Swiss history – with subtitles, too! However, about 600 years later, it gave everyone a lot of trouble as it caught fire and a large part of it had to be replaced; as for the paintings, an even larger part vanished into thin air. Literally.
Apparently that happened because someone could’t help having a quick smoke on a wooden bridge.
Off we go now, to the second worth-seeing thing on the list – Das Löwendenkmal – The lion monument. Pour yourself a cup of whatever and relax – this is a long story and it goes like this:
Traditionally, a Swiss regiment served as part of the Royal Household of France. During the French Revolution, King Louis XVI and his family were forced to move from the Palace of Versailles to the Tuileries Palace in Paris. They soon realized that was no proper place for a king – or safe for that matter and soon got him out of there too, so that when the men with the guns besieged the Tuileries palace – suprise! The king was nowhere to be found.
That, however, didn’t stop the revolutionaries from beating the shit out of the Swiss guards that loyally stayed behind, because, well, it was a revolution – blood, fight, stuff. Some years later, Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen, an officer of the guards driven by guilt for having spent that terrible day on leave, leisurely strolling through Lucerne decided to do something to always remember people of that day.
Thus, a beautiful lion monument was born, dedicated to “the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss”: Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti
Of course, I’ve written about all those things while avoiding the elephant in the room – the lake, that is. Vierwaldstättersee, as it is called, is simply put, a weirdly shaped lake shared by four Swiss cantons. Also, it has birds, which erm…I don’t like. I have been trying to find some literary reference to it that could help make my job of describing it easier, but…
Next morning we left in the train for Switzerland, and reached Lucerne about ten o’clock at night. The first discovery I made was that the beauty of the lake had not been exaggerated.
Mark Twain, “A tramp abroad”
Well, maybe I didn’t try that hard.
And finally, if you happen to be in Lucerne, I recommend taking a short trip to Mount Pilatus, the pride and joy of the locals, so I’ve been told. I didn’t do that, however, the internet says you should and has some pretty good arguments. Firstly, the view is amazing, but then again it is a mountain, and mountains often have amazing views.
Secondly, if you decide to hike to the top, there are several trails that take you deep into the awesomeness of the Swiss forests, but if not, just go for the Pilatusbahn, which is, oh you know, just the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. Not only that, but the line still uses the original rack rails that are now over 100 years old.
While they may seem ancient, don’t worry! They are dealing with the rails wearing out, by simply turning them over. Which I find slightly worrying. And, brace yourselves, because I saved the best for last. There are legends that say that there is a dragon living on the mountain. A dragon. How about that!
So I think that is about all. You’ve had a mini-virtual-tour through Luzern, which you hopefully enjoyed. There is, of course, much more to be said, for instance about the churches – if you’re into that kind of things, or the small antiquities shops or about the Altstadt in general, which should be the number one destination, no matter which city you are visiting – in case you don’t know, that is the historical center, often the (only) most beautiful part
A glimpse of the Altstadt
KKL - Culture and Convention Centre Lucerne, home of one of the finest concert halls in the world
But I am going to stop here. Thank you for reading and any kind of feedback will be much appreciated – you know, for future reference!
Disclaimer: I really suck at history and while Wikipedia was certainly helpful, there’s a limit to what it can do. I made a lot of effort to take things out of there and write them here more plainly but I am really sorry if I misinterpreted the stuff I read. So don’t take them for granted and feel free to correct me if necessary.