13/10/2017 · By Sukie Chapman
If you thought that Switzerland was nothing but top-secret bank accounts, luxurious chocolate and Alpine mountains, then have no fear, we’re on hand to put the record straight.Read more
Although Switzerland's most populated city, Lucerne is no high-rise concrete and glass behemoth. The gateway to the natural wonders and attractions of central Switzerland, Lucerne is a masterpiece of historic architecture, majestic plazas and pastel-painted houses that is at least as beautiful as the mountain-ringed Lake Lucerne by which it stands.
Founded in 1178, in a little over a century Lucerne had evolved into a prosperous and self-sufficient commercial city thanks to its proximity to the Gotthard Pass, an important trade route linking areas of Switzerland, Germany and Italy.
Despite the ravages of the Black Plague and internecine wars, Lucerne steadily grew between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, the city's infrastructure developing accordingly to cope with an increasing population.
Consequently, Lucerne's wealth of remarkably-preserved buildings and structures from all periods stretching back to medieval times contribute significantly to the city's appeal. Today, the legacy of Lucerne's rich history is easily explored on foot, from the beautiful half-timbered buildings of the Old Town at the heart of the city to the ancient ramparts of its defensive walls.
Along the way, visitors can stop to admire Lucerne's wonderful churches and outstanding collection of museums and art galleries or head to the city's harbour to embark upon a relaxing cruise of Lake Lucerne from which exceptional views of the city and its spectacular surrounding landscapes can be obtained.
Originally built in 1333 but partially reconstructed catching fire in 1993, the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) spanning the Reuss River which flows through Lucerne is perhaps the city's most iconic landmark and is particularly beautiful when viewed at sunset.
A memorial for the six hundred Swiss Guards who were massacred at Tuilleries Palace in Paris during the French Revolution in 1792, the Lion of Lucerne is sculpted into a rock face situated in a small and peaceful park close to Lowenplatz. Ten metres in length, this moving depiction of a mortally wounded lion was carved in 1820 by German sculptor Lukas Ahorn.
The Swiss art collector Angela Rosengart was a close friend of Pablo Picasso, and her private collection, housed in a stunning neo-classical building and opened to the public in 2002 contains more than two hundred original masterpieces by celebrated artists including Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Monet and others.
Nine lookout towers, part of Lucerne's medieval defensive city wall, were built between 1350 and 1408. Today, three of them are open to the public and can be climbed to gain superb views of the city.