Gotthard Pass spoils you. I was at the very end of this ‘stop & just stay in the Alps’ drive from Italy to Switzerland and I saw sheets of green starting to change color. We’d crossed Andermatt, a village in the valley and were heading to Lucerne, which is at the heart of Switzerland. Silly me. Didn’t we all know that mountains are for paradise seekers & cities are to bring you down to earth!! Realized all too soon that I was way off.
When in Swiss land, every thing, really every teeny thing is picture perfect. I could feel the difference more so as I was crossing over from a longish stay in a brown & beautiful Tuscan countryside, to literally a palette of colors. The drive to the lake city was just a tease. While the green cover blended into earthy shades, an unforgettable blue soon after gave me the 1st glimpse of what my next 3 days would be like.
CLASSIC COZIES UP WITH FRESH IN LUCERNE
This is a city of surprising contrasts. I was here after 10 years of my 1st ever visit and to be honest that was just a quick day trip. But I had picked up an undeniable charm, which stayed in my oldest memories of Lucerne for all these years. I remembered it as idyllic yet very alive, with quaint medieval structures and a sort of ornamental detailing in the wall art. Water fountains, beautiful spires and domes rushed through my picture thoughts, like a quick blast from the past. I then had also made mental notes that the most fascinating stories were hidden further in, away from the more famous streets and bridges. But in this stay the prettiness started for me from a stroll along the banks of the Chapel Bridge.
(The town hall with its historic clock tower)
To be honest I did little here this time too despite spending 3 beautiful evenings, just because I was staying in an absolutely lovely villa that gave me a glorious view of the city, lake and mountains. So I got lazy. But I had a terrific surprise in store, as I was right in the middle of their festival of music on its final day. Which meant all things exciting would be closed after lunch. And the roads would be filled with music lovers. That wasn’t too bad. So I punched in a few half stories to come back to. I know I have to savor many more sunsets and discover Lucerne at my pace the next time.
Caught some great moments though. Some were slices of history. Some others were nature’s seductive bounty, in colors that blew my mind.
(Here’s the fairy tale like Château Gütsch, designed by architect Emil Vogt in the late 1800s as a private residence. It took its inspiration from the Bavarian Castle Neuschwanstein and is now a hotel)
DON’T MISS THESE WOW STORIES WHEN IN LUCERNE
Streets of art and tales
Hit the old town Altstadt, which is what any area that preserves medieval structures and squares is called. Just walk around without a time limit. It doesn’t take an entire day but if you wish to stop over and glug some beer or feast on some fondue chances are it would take much longer. Once you start seeing the colorful houses with paintings down the length of their outer wall, then you just cant help but pause and stare. Here are some captures of these artistic expressions.
(Wall art here is from myths and legends the city carries. I have to listen to the stories behind these images when I come by again)
Steeples and onion shaped Domes, crown churches with Gothic & Baroque architecture
Sometimes I look at us in the 21st century and wonder what we’ve created, that our future could come back and admire. Like physically. Monumental stuff!! Lucky me, I can still see delightful creations from the 17th and even 15th Century or earlier because someone wanted to leave traces of their culture. The churches in Lucerne too have time traveled.
Step into Switzerland’s oldest Baroque church created for the Jesuits. Even more than the famous wooden bridge over the River Reuss, this beauty catches your eye when you start walking on its right bank. I missed seeing the white marble interiors but am imagining that 17th Century architecture would be worth a revisit.
(Jesuitenkirche. Jesuit Church of Saint Francis Xavier. It is said that architects from Austria & Italy built this beauty in Baroque style)
On my way down from the Airnb I’d made home, I accidentally caught sight of Hofkriche St Leodegar in a way that only my camera can explain. It was just a glimpse but even more beautiful than the mountains that framed it (check out the cover photo). And while I had seen it on a couple of occasions as I walked past to the nearest watering hole, this capture was trigger enough to stop by and say a prayer.
Built on top of an erstwhile 8th century monastery, this church has seen many reconstructions over almost 800 years. The present one is in Renaissance style but does preserve the towers from before and Gothic sculptures that are typical of the times. The last work on it is from the 17th century, but unmissable even today are the elaborate gold altars. Amazing how different styles have come together here to create this beautiful structure. Since there was a prayer service on, I did not shoot the interiors.
Landmarks that lived to tell
Here are two attractions that are often the delight of photographers and storytellers
Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke): A 14th century bridge damaged by fire in the 20th century but restored completely. It’s a pretty bridge that runs diagonally across the River Reuss and whichever bank you look at it from it’s delightful. Gorgeous flowers in lavender, pink, white and blue lace the bridge all through. Baskets of flowers in balconies have forever been my memory of Switzerland from the time I was little and the bridge is no different. Adjacent to it is a water tower Wassertum, which once upon a time was a lighthouse, prison…what not. As you walk across the bridge you will see paintings in triangular boards on the roof, depicting the patron saints of the city & stories woven around them. You can look up this page on the Radisson Blu website to know more about the bridge
(Chapel Bridge just as I remember it in 2007)
Spreuer bridge (Spreuerbrücke) on the other side has paintings within it too, of a macabre kind though. About death and the inevitability of it. You can get lovely views of the Jesuit church, River Reuss and Chapel bridge from this one.
Lion Monument: Created to commemorate the soldiers who died while protecting the King of France Louis XVI during the French Revolution, it depicts a dying lion cut out from a rock. This very poignant story is dedicated to the number of Swiss Guards who with courage fought to defend. On closer look one can see a shield below the lion and a spear through its body. Above it are the Latin words HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI that mean, ‘To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss’.
While you are walking about the streets don’t miss the Alstadt (Old Town), which houses the Altes Rathaus (Town hall) and the clock tower alongside. Or the elaborate fountain that hits you with its detailing and colors.
Dreilindenpark & the Music Conservatory
What if a park housed a mini castle look alike from where you hear the sound of music as you fall asleep? When I reached Lucerne it was the last day of class before the weekend at the Music Conservatory. So the dulcet tones of classical music was my lullaby that Friday. I was lucky that I was staying just behind this lush park, so walking into the grounds was easy. Take a stroll and stray you must. Since the school had closed for a couple of days I took permission to slip into the school. I’ve heard this property could be sold in 2018 and the school will move to another building. Just hope the park is still accessible.
Address: Konservatorium (Konsipark), Dreilindenstrasse 93, 6006 Luzern, Switzerland
Day/Night Music Festival
When I was there this time I was totally lucky as I was in the middle of music concerts. In fact there were bands performing across the city centre. On the last day of the show the city pretty much shut down by 3.00 PM and every one was on the streets to eat and drink and dance and sing along. This was the 9th Lucerne Festival and the proceeds went to ‘Luzerne Help Luzerne’, that was supporting a few non-profit organizations
You can look up the schedule of music concerts that happen at intervals through the year. It will make you lighter if you can spend a day of your holiday just soaking in live music/art/creative performances. Look up the Lucerne Festival page for more.
A village outside Lucerne ~ Falling in love with Lungern
I had seen pictures of this stunner, but once I got there I realized it could never capture the visual seduction that comes when you experience things live. There is really so much to do in Lucerne if you want to find great eats, visit museums and discover quaint stores, but I was just obsessed with the color aquamarine that was stubborn in my memory.
Welcome to the charming little village of Lungern. Nestled between Lucerne and Interlaken, its beauty is well preserved by its 2000 residents. Grab a beer or a piping hot chocolate like I did and sit by the placid waters or better still do a walk about. There is a 110-year-old neo-Gothic church, you can even cycle around the mountain lake or then hike to the flowering meadows. My friend and I on impulse decided to go through with that picture frame in my head and we still reminisce about that day, in every chrome and steel morning. There is more on this village with emerald waters but for now here are some captures so you float.
I hope the city of Lucerne has been a joy to look at and savor. With water bodies, medieval structures, a walk of discovery in the old town and mighty mountains like the Pilatus & Rigi that border the city, I found a timelessness between my 1st visit in 2007 and now. Pick your stay to complete the wow show.
We stayed at a gorgeous AirBnB holiday villa hosted by Marlen & Edris that gave us a stunning view of Lake Lucerne, the mountains, sunrise and the stylish city.
If you have a week, do visit the museums (Bourbaki Panorama, Rosengart Collection), take the trip on the steepest cogwheel railroad up Mt. Pilatus, hike up to the 13th century Museggmauer (I’ve heard the view of Lucerne from the Musegg Wall is terrific), come by for the Lucerne Fasnacht (Carnival) closer to the end of winter and of course don’t miss the delicious freshly made Swiss chocolates (I dunked in chocolate at Confiserie Bachmann which is at Schwanenplatz 7).
I hope I can come back for tons more. And this time perhaps ditch the car and get on the most picturesque train journey with the Swiss Travel pass. Care to join me?
You’d agree Switzerland can inundate you with its beauty. I am just only sharing my captures bit by bit on my Instagram @pebblewalks Do drop by for the show. Would love to hear from you.