Lucerne is a city in north-central Switzerland, in the German-speaking portion of that country. Lucerne is the capital of the Canton of Lucerne and the capital of the district of the same name. With a population of about 76,200 people, Lucerne is the most populous city in Central Switzerland, and a nexus of transportation, telecommunications, and government of this region. Due to its location on the shore of Lake Lucerne (der Vierwaldstättersee), within sight of Mount Pilatus and Rigi in the Swiss Alps, Lucerne has long been a destination for tourists.
|The Jesuit Church|
Tourism in Lucerne has a distinguished history dating from the mid 19th century, with Mark Twain among them. In "A Tramp Abroad" he recalls the nascent souvenir business, and other budding examples of the tourism trade.
- The Chapel Bridge is a covered wooden footbridge spanning diagonally across the Reuss River. Named after the nearby St. Peter's Chapel, the bridge is unique since it contains a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century, although many of them were destroyed along with most of the centuries old bridge in a 1993 fire. Subsequently restored, the Kapellbrücke is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, as well as the world's oldest surviving truss bridge. It serves as the city's symbol and as one of Switzerland's main tourist attractions. The bridge was originally built in 1333 as part of Lucerne's fortifications. It linked the old town on the right bank of the Reuss to the new town on the left bank, securing the city from attack from the south (i.e. from the lake). The bridge initially had a length of over 200 metres (660 ft), although due to numerous shortenings throughout the years and river bank replenishments, the bridge now totals only 170 metres (560 ft) in length.
- The Hof Church. The main cathedral for the city, as well as the St. Leodegar and St. Maurice religious center. A Benedictine monastery was founded here in the 8th century. In 1633, a fire destroyed the church; it was rebuilt in 1645. It is the most important Renaissance church in Switzerland. Especially noteworthy are the façade, Mary's alter (with a relief panel dating from 1500), and the souls' altar.
- Lucerne Water Tower. This octagonal tower - over 34 meters high (111.5 ft.) - was built around 1300 as part of the city wall and used as an archive, treasury, prison and torture chamber. It is Lucerne's most famous landmark and the most frequently photographed monument in Switzerland.
- The Jesuit Church. The first large sacral Baroque church in Switzerland; constructed in 1666 by Father Christoph Vogler for the Jesuits. The vault was redecorated in the mid-18th century. The original vestments of Brother Klaus, a famous Swiss patron, are stored in the inner chapel.
- The Lion Monument. or the Lion of Lucerne, is a sculpture, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and hewn in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris, France. The American writer Mark Twain (1835–1910) praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world." The monument is dedicated Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti ("To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss"). The dying lion is portrayed impaled by a spear, covering a shield bearing the fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy; beside him is another shield bearing the coat of arms of Switzerland. The inscription below the sculpture lists the names of the officers, and approximate numbers of the soldiers who died.