We loved the picturesque, clean, friendly, city of Lucerne. The view from our hotel balcony included the 14th century wooden Chapel Bridge that crosses the Reuss river with a snow-covered Mt. Pilatus in the background. Our hotel, the Des Alpes, was in a restored ca.1600 building located in the heart of the historic pedestrian downtown. The staff at the hotel went out of their way to make sure we were enjoyed our stay. In addition to the complimentary breakfast every morning, we had a couple of delicious meals in the restaurant. Every restaurant we tried in Lucerne seemed better than the one before. I had the best cannelloni ever at a restaurant a few doors from our hotel!
Lucerne was a few hours by train from Montreux, but it felt as if we were in a different country. Montreux is a resort town and very French; Lucerne is the capital of the German-speaking portion of the country and is a center for economics, transportation, culture, and media. Located on the shores of the river, the terrain is relatively flat, and we found it easy to walk everywhere we wanted to go.
One day, we walked to the Lion of Lucerne, the very moving monument created in 1821 to commemorate the Swiss Guards, who were massacred in 1792, during the French Revolution. It was a short walk down the hill to the Hofkirche St. Leodegar, built in 1639 on the foundation of a previous Roman basilica which had burnt in 1633. The church survived the Reformation because the papal nuncio, resident in Luzerne, used the church as his cathedral during that time.
Another afternoon, we took a one-hour cruise on the Yacht Saphir. The panoramic views of Lake Lucerne, hill-side villas, and distant mountains made me forget the chilly breeze and enjoy the perfect sunshine as I took photos from the open bow of the yacht.
The Jesuit Church of Lucerne is the first large baroque church built in Switzerland north of the Alps. Lucerne participated in the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic fight against Protestantism that was lead by Zwingli in Zurich and Calvin in Geneva. The mayor of Lucerne offered financial support from his private funds to support the Jesuits. The impressive church is located on the banks of the Reuss at the end of Chapel Bridge. It has one of the most splendid interiors of any church we have visited. Although we’ve visited an extraordinary number of churches during the past few months, we’ve learned so much about the history of the towns we’ve visited because the church was, and remains today, a central part of daily life.