We were nearing the end of a dream, 4 weeks in Switzerland, and were scheduled to take a train to Venice in the evening. So to make the most of our stay in this fairyland, we took an early morning train to Lucerne to spend a few hours there and then move on to Venice.
We reached Lucerne after a train ride of a little more than an hour from the quaint little city of Uster in the Canton of Zurich. Uster, if I might add, served as a base for our Swiss adventures. We alighted at the station and looked around, we were aware that there was a bit of history associated with this station. The original station was built as early as 1856 on the edge of Lake Lucerne, this was made of wood. In 1896 a new station was built, but unfortunately this was burnt in a fire in 1971. The station that stands today was completed in the year 1991.
We emerged from the station to find the city in semi-darkness, it was not yet daylight. We could see the silhouette of the bridge that connected the station to the center of Lucerne as well as the shadowy lake in the distance.
A chilly wind greeted us as we made our way across the bridge with our spirits warm and eager to explore this charming city. On our left we spotted the iconic wooden bridge, just visible in the gloomy shadows. We breathed in large gulps of the cold, mountain air as we crossed the bridge and moved to the left side. By this time, the darkness had receded and daylight had made its presence. We turned to look back towards the station and what we saw was virtually a visual symphony. The mountains, the lake, the station building and the bridge, all covered by a thin veil of mist, looked ethereally beautiful.
The place we were in was buzzing with activity as fruit, vegetable and flower sellers were setting up their wares, a bakery had just opened its doors and one could see huge mounds of bread being freshly baked, we felt hungry as the aroma wafted across and assailed our nostrils. We enjoyed some freshly baked bread and muffins washed down by strong coffee as we marveled at the lake, the wooden bridge and the mountains in the distance which seemed to hold the city of Lucerne in a tight embrace.
The Kappelbrucke or Chapel Bridge is an iconic landmark of Lucerne that spans the Lake Lucerne, which itself is a part of the river Reuss. The bridge is actually a covered wooden footbridge for pedestrians and it contains many beautiful paintings that date back to the 17th century. Unfortunately the original bridge along with many of the paintings were destroyed in a fire in 1993. What stands today is the restored version. The bridge is said to be the world’s oldest Truss bridge. The bridge also includes the tower which is known as the Water Tower, but has nothing to do with water other than the fact that it is standing in water. The tower was used as a prison and torture chamber in times gone by. The original wooden bridge was built as early as the year 1333.
We felt overwhelmed by history as we set foot on this historic bridge and one of the main tourist attractions of Switzerland. We marveled at the paintings and we stood by the side to view the water and the mountains in the distance before returning back to where we had started from.
Church of St. Leodegar
The city had cast off its misty veil by the time we walked away from the wooden bridge and made our way to the center of the city and onto the beautiful and serene Church of St. Leodegar. The church again is an important landmark of Lucerne with a lot of historic significance, and was built between 1633 to 1639 . Before this there existed a Gothic church which was destroyed by fire in 1633. Today only the towers , St.Mary’s altar and a few other religious artifacts remain as a silent testimony to times gone by. We spent some time in the calming environs of the gardens of the church, before making our way out.
The Lion Monument
Up next on our agenda was, The Lion Monument, and we set out resolutely in search of it. I would like to add here that we were exploring Lucerne on foot and without a map nor GPS. We were using the age old and time tested technique of asking for directions. After asking for directions we reached a main square of the city with roads going in all four directions, we paused, contemplating the direction that we should take. Luckily for us a pretty lady emerged from one of the Beauty Parlors on the street and I was off to greet her and ask her for directions. She smiled, and with a flick of her long fingers, made a gesture of “walking”, and pointed behind me, saying, “just walk behind those Chinese tourists”! I turned around, just in time to see a group of Chinese tourists turn the corner, towards my right. I immediately thanked the lady and we followed in the footsteps of the Chinese, who led us to, The Lion Monument.
The Lion Monument is a sculpture of a Lion that has been hewn in rock. It is a memorial to the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution. If you look closely at the Lion, you can see the painful and soulful expression on its face as it lies fatally wounded. It is a very moving sight in stone that would move even the most stone-hearted. We spent some moments, sitting on a bench and gazing at the soul stirring lion and praying for the souls of those valiant soldiers who had paid with their lives.
We then moved on and traced our way back towards the station along a beautifully paved walkway by the lake, on the way getting down the steps to play with some ducks who were gliding gracefully in the water.
We knew we had not seen all of Lucerne, but were bowled over by the beauty of the place, in the few hours we were there. We thought it was truly magical and we vowed to ourselves, that we would be back one day. Meanwhile, we recommend you check out our friend’s article on unique things to do in Switzerland here.
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