Lucerne – history and culture

During our two days in Lucerne we explored the history, culture and the worlds biggest transport musem

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We arrived in Lucerne for the final leg of our family road trip on a blisteringly hot July day, checking into our “Room with a View” at Chateau Geutsch, to enjoy Lucerne’s history and culture.

Sitting high on the hilltop with panoramic views over the glittering Lake Lucerne, the 19th century fairytale castle has an impressive list of former guests, including Queen Victoria herself, who once holidayed in the castle.

Each room is decorated in its own unique style, providing breathtaking views over the city. The hotel was an extravagance at the end of our holiday, but the defining fact was the ease with which my brother -in -law could park a nine seater minibus and access the city.

Once settled into our rooms, we set out for a day’s exploration, taking the vernicular down the steep slope into town and the bus stop, which would take us to the city centre. Once again, free public transport vouchers were provided to hotel guests.

Walking tour of Lucerne History

We were soon at the lakeside, where our walking tour of the historic town began. We joined the throng of tourists strolling along the famous Chapel Bridge. The wooden, roofed bridge was built during the first half of the 14th century as part of the city fortifications, with painted ceiling panels dating back to the 17th century depicting scenes from Swiss history and lives of Lucerne patron saints.

We strolled through the frescoed town squares, abuzz with market stallholders offering everything from local cheese and produce, to bric- a- brac, antiquities and tacky souvenirs.

Swiss chocolatiers provided mouthwatering window displays, however with starving children in the world, we felt that AUD100 per kg was just a little obscene and contented ourselves with taking in the sweet aromas.

Our walk took us to the 13th century Franciscan church and 15th Century Jesuit church, were we marvelled at the medieval frescoes.

Lunch by Lake Lucerne

Before long, it was time for our customary lunch and we took refuge from the sweltering heat in one of the many restaurants. While the rest of the family decided on local pizza, my sister felt she only wanted a “light lunch” so opted for the antipasto platter. The look on her face was priceless when a four tier platter of meats, cheeses, olives and sundried tomatoes was set before her. We really do need to brush up on our German next time!!

Refreshed and ready to resume our walk we headed off towards the Musegg wall, Started in 1178 as part of the town’s fortifications, nine towers remain and an 870 metre long walkway along the ramparts provide spectacular views over Lucerne.

Dying Lion of Lucerne

We then headed on to one of the most famous monuments in Lucerne – “The Dying Lion of Lucerne”, carved out of a rockface to commemorate the Swiss soldiers who died protecting Tuileries Palace during the French Revolution in 1792.

By now the temperature was well into the high 30’s and it was time to head back to our hotel for a refreshing beverage on the terrace before our chandelier-lit dinner overlooking the sparkling lights around Lake Lucerne.

Surfing Lucerne Style

Our walk home took us back across the river, where we paused to watch the locals throwing themselves into the rapids and rafting downstream, or “waterskiing” on a paddleboard holding on for dear life to a rope anchored to the riverbank. You really would need to know exactly where you were going, as there would be no swimming back upstream against the raging current.

Lucerne Transport Museum

On our second morning we awoke to a rainy, but blissfully cooler day. The ideal time to head off for a day exploring the massive transport museum.

Here we found everything from horse driven carriages to space ships and everything in between. The boys spent hours exploring trains, planes and automobiles, including a massive life-size “matchbox car” display, where you could choose your car, which would be winched onto a rotating platform for you to get a better close-up view.
Out in the central courtyard, children whizzed around on miniature vehicles, or sailed the lake on boats – all included in the family entry fee.

For the technically minded, volunteers were on hand to provide informative demonstrations on matters mechanical. For the rest of us, the “wives and girlfriends chairs” provided surpassed anything we had found in any of the many similar museums we had visited. A swinging garden seat provided push-button options for the music you would like to listen to while you waited, or overcame your chocolate coma.

Lindt Chocolate

Located in the same building was the Lindt chocolate museum, where you could learn everything about the production of Swiss Chocolate from the cultivation of the cocoa beans, to the manufacture of the final product. My sister and I of course supported this excellent initiative by participating enthusiasically in the chocolate tasting- much the same as the wine tasting we had enjoyed in the Burgundy and Chablis regions. Choose your chocolate and then stock up for the trip home.

And so ended our four week adventure, as back at our Chateau we sipped our final after-dinner drinks watching the lights flicker in the glittering Lake Lucerne.

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Want to learn a little more about travelling in Switzerland? The following travel guide is available on Amazon

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