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Bridges of Lucerne

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Historic description of Lucerne

The following excerpt is from Switzerland: Northern and Eastern, by Paul Guiton. This book is part of a two-volume set from a "Travel Lovers' Library" that was published by Hale, Cushman & Flint of Boston and The Medici Society of London. Although the guidebook isn't dated, it appears to have been written in the early 1920s.

Chapel Bridge - Photo by Paul Guiton

Is there a more delectable town than Lucerne? Everything about it is pleasing: the waters of the Lake which touch it with a caress, the buildings of bygone times and the more showy constructions of our own, the urbanity of the men and the gracefulness of the women, of whom Bourrit said that they were well-built and well-bred. It extends along the banks of the Lake and of the Reuss and ends in a corner of a green valley.

The Reuss flows past the town with the swiftness of a torrent, spanned by a modern bridge which resists it stolidly, but it hammers vigorously against a wooden bridge which, to all appearances, would be swept away were it not securely moored by the octagonal Wasserturm with its thick walls and conical roof. Its piles and timberwork are probably the only surviving remains of the old lake-dwellings, and it crosses the river in a crooked line, following, more or less, the lie of the ancient town.

Once upon a time, it ran right up to the steps of the cathedral, crossing a bay which has been filled in and is now the site of various hotels. In this bridge, the Kapell-Brücke, the entire history of Lucerne, religous and political, may be said to be embodied. In the wood-work of its roof are panels on which are represented all the chief events in its annals, scenes from the lives of its patron saints, battle-scenes, the unfurling of banners, apparitions, the scene of the solemn oath at Rütli, the great fire of 1400. It is both pleasand and touching to hear some native of Lucerne explaining these pictures to the tourist.

Downstream, on another and very similar bridge, the Speuer-Brücke, or Mühlen-Brücke, there is a watch-tower in pink stone jutting out into the stream and dedicated to the Virgin. This bridge is remarkable for a series of paintings of the Dance of Death, executed by Gaspard Meglinger: all sorts and conditions of men and women, priests and warriors, princes and men of learning, the young bride, the devout nun, the lawmaker, the hunter, the miller, the artist himself, are depicted at the mercy of Death, with his mocking smile and his ever-changing garb--pictures suitable for a Benedictine Abbey, which are seen by every inhabitant of delectable Lucerne who crosses the river by that bridge.

Next page: Lucerne Travel Links

Bridges of Lucerne - Introduction
Historic description of Lucerne and its bridges
Lucerne travel links

Photo: Paul Guiton