Our final stop on our fantastic Switzerland journey was a few days in the beautiful lakeside city of Lucerne. We were greeted by magnificent views of the lake from our balcony at the luxurious Hotel Schweitzerhof.
Lucerne (/luːˈsɜːrn/ loo-SURN, French: [lysɛʁn] or Luzern (Swiss Standard German: [luˈtsɛrn] is a city in central Switzerland, in the German-speaking portion of the country. Lucerne is the capital of the canton of Lucerne and part of the district of the same name. With a population of approximately 82,000 people, Lucerne is the most populous city in Central Switzerland, and a nexus of economics, transportation, culture, and media in the region. The city's urban area consists of 19 municipalities and towns with an overall population of about 220,000 people.
Owing to its location on the shores of Lake Lucerne (German: Vierwaldstättersee) and its outflow, the river Reuss, within sight of the mounts Pilatus and Rigi in the Swiss Alps, Lucerne has long been a destination for tourists. One of the city's famous landmarks is the Chapel Bridge (German: Kapellbrücke), a wooden bridge first erected in the 14th century.
The official language of Luzern is German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Lucerne German.
After the fall of the Roman Empire beginning in the 6th century, Germanic Alemannic peoples increased their influence on this area of present-day Switzerland.
Around 750 the Benedictine Monastery of St. Leodegar was founded, which was later acquired by Murbach Abbey in Alsace in the middle of the 9th century, and by this time the area had become known as Luciaria.
The origin of the name is uncertain, it is possibly derived from the Latin name of the pike, lucius, thus designating a pike fishing spot in the river Reuss. Derivation from the theonym Lugus has been suggested but is phonetically implausible. In any case, the name was associated by popular etymology with Latin lucerna "lantern" from an early time.
In 1178 Lucerne acquired its independence from the jurisdiction of Murbach Abbey, and the founding of the city proper probably occurred that same year. The city gained importance as a strategically located gateway for the growing commerce from the Gotthard trade route.
By 1290, Lucerne had become a self-sufficient city of reasonable size with about 3000 inhabitants. About this time King Rudolph I von Habsburg gained authority over the Monastery of St. Leodegar and its lands, including Lucerne. The populace was not content with the increasing Habsburg influence, and Lucerne allied with neighboring towns to seek independence from their rule. Along with Lucerne, the three other forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden formed the "eternal" Swiss Confederacy, known as the Eidgenossenschaft, on November 7, 1332.
Later the cities of Zürich, Zug and Bern joined the alliance. With the help of these additions, the rule of Austria over the area came to an end. The issue was settled by Lucerne's victory over the Habsburgs in the Battle of Sempach in 1386. For Lucerne this victory ignited an era of expansion. The city shortly granted many rights to itself, rights which had been withheld by the Habsburgs until then. By this time the borders of Lucerne were approximately those of today.
In 1415 Lucerne gained Reichsfreiheit from Emperor Sigismund and became a strong member of the Swiss confederacy. The city developed its infrastructure, raised taxes, and appointed its own local officials. The city's population of 3000 dropped about 40% due to the Black Plague and several wars around 1350.
In 1798, nine years after the beginning of the French Revolution, the French army marched into Switzerland. The old confederacy collapsed and the government became democratic. The industrial revolution hit Lucerne rather late, and by 1860 only 1.7% of the population worked in industry, which was about a quarter of the national average at that time. Agriculture, which employed about 40% of the workers, was the main form of economic output in the canton. Nevertheless, industry was attracted to the city from areas around Lucerne. From 1850 to 1913, the population quadrupled and the flow of settlers increased. In 1856 trains first linked the city to Olten and Basel, then Zug and Zürich in 1864 and finally to the south in 1897.
The 1804 play William Tell by Friedrich Schiller did much to establish the reputation of Lucerne and its environs. Schiller himself had not been to Lucerne, but was inspired to write the play by his wife Lotte and his friend Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who had both personally visited the city and its surrounding canton. Goethe had lodged in the Hirschenplatz on his route to Italy in 1779.
It was during the latter part of the 19th century that Lucerne became a popular destination for artists, royalty and others to escape to. The German composer Richard Wagner established a residence at Tribschen in 1866 from which he lived and worked. The city was then boosted by a visit by Queen Victoria to the city in 1868, during which she went sightseeing at the Kapellbrücke and Lion Monument and relished speaking with local people in her native German. The American writer Mark Twain further popularised the city and its environs in his travel writings after visiting twice, in 1878 and 1897. In 1892 Swiss poet and future Nobel Prize laureate Carl Spitteler also established himself in Lucerne, living there until his death in 1924.
Lucerne's status as a fashionable destination led to it becoming one of the first centres of modern-style tourism. Some of the city's most recognisable buildings are hotels from this period, such as the Schweizerhof Hotel (1845), Grand Hotel National (1870), and Château Gütsch (1879). It was at the National that Swiss hotelier César Ritz would establish himself as manager between 1878 and 1888.
In August 1993, the Kapellbrücke in the centre of the city suffered from a great fire which destroyed two thirds of its interior paintings. The bridge was subsequently reconstructed and reopened to the public in April 1994, after a total of CHF 3.4 million was spent on its repair.
On June 17, 2007, voters of the city of Lucerne and the adjacent town of Littau agreed to a merger in a simultaneous referendum. This took effect on January 1, 2010. The new city, still called Lucerne, has a population of around 80,000 people, making it the seventh-largest city in Switzerland. The results of this referendum are expected to pave the way for negotiations with other nearby cities and towns in an effort to create a unified city-region, based on the results of a study.
Lucerne is located at the outfall of Lake Lucerne into the river Reuss, which flows from south-east to north-west. The city occupies both banks of the river and the lowest reach of the lake, with the city centre straddling the river immediately downstream of the outfall. The city's suburbs climb the hills to the north-east and south-west, and stretch out along the river and lake banks, whilst the recently added area of Littau is to the north-west.
Since the city straddles the Reuss where it drains the lake, it has a number of bridges. The most famous is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), a 204 m (669 ft) long wooden covered bridge originally built in 1333, the oldest covered bridge in Europe, although much of it had to be replaced after a fire on 18 August 1993, allegedly caused by a discarded cigarette. Partway across, the bridge runs by the octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturm), a fortification from the 13th century. Inside the bridge are a series of paintings from the 17th century depicting events from Lucerne's history. The Bridge with its Tower is the city's most famous landmark.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucerne
I hope you enjoy this first installment of images from this beautiful city. It was a treat to check into our room and be greeted by these magnificent vistas of the lake.