The Chapel Bridge
Lucerne is a center of Swiss history and legend.
Lucerne is a lovely small city with a thriving tourism industry, owing mainly to its status as a gateway to Central Switzerland.
The Swiss are renowned for their caution and reserve, but as you emerge from the train station in Lucerne the exuberance of the city strikes you with breathtaking force: Here, before you, is the celebrated lake, with its glittering surface and undulating shoreline. There, flanked by an ancient octagonal stone tower, is the covered medieval Chapel Bridge leading across the Reuss River, where an array of stately hotels evokes the gilded age of the Grand Tour.
The unique landmark in Lucerne is the Chapel Bridge, or the Kapellbrücke, as they call it in German, that spans the Reuss River. It was named after St. Peter’s Chapel, which is located nearby. The bridge is unique since it contains triangular trusses, decorated with paintings dating back to the 17th century, which span the upper interior of the bridge. There was also an explanation printed below each painting to help narrate the scene. Unfortunately, two-thirds of these paintings were destroyed by fire in 1993. The scenes on the trusses, which date back to the CounterReformation, portray promotions of the Catholic Church and scenes of the history of Lucerne.
The Chapel Bridge is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe. It was originally built in 1333, as part of the bridge includes the octagonal tower. The tower predated the bridge by about 30 years. Throughout the centuries, the tower was variably used as a prison, torture chamber, and later a municipal archive.
The bridge was built to span the 660 feet of river between the banks, and it was constructed as part of the town’s fortifications to link the old town to the new and help secure the city from attack.
Photo Courtesy of Lucerne Tourism