Einsiedeln is also called Maria Einsiedeln and it is the most popular pilgrim-church of Switzerland. Einsiedeln is about 50 km east of Luzern and you may combine it in a daytrip with Schwyz and Kuessnacht.
The Benedictinean monastery of Maria Einsiedeln dates back to the 10th century and it was built at the same place, where the benedictinean eremit Holy Meinrad was killed by robbers back in the year 861. The monks started to cultivate the woods around the monastery, built vineries and breed horses.
The monastery burned down 5 times and the baroque architecture that you may still see today dates back to the year 1656-1723 , constructed by Kaspar Moosbrugger.
The Basilica was built 1719-1735 in the centre of the 4 wings of the monastery and it has 2 spires, each of them 56 meters high. The interior of the Basilika is beautifully decorated with frescos by the brothers Damian and Egid Quirin Asam from Bavaria. ("Asam-Baroque" used to be some sort of a "trade-mark" for ornate decorations and frescos and there is even an Asam-church in Munich, built and and neven payed by themselves !)
There is a miracle-working-image of a "Black Madonna" in a seperate chapel, opposite of the entrance to the basilika. The wooden sculpture of that Madonna is dressed in beautiful robes and all day long it is really hard to get to that place.
Almost all days there are church-services held for the thousands of tourists coming to that church every day.
By train you may get to Einsiedeln within 1 hour from Luzern !
Meiringen is the Mekka for all fans of Sherlok Holmes. Of course we all know, Holmes has never lived, BUT for all fans of the famous dedective Meiringen is the place, where he died, when he had a fight with Prof. Moriarty in Reichenbachfall, a big waterfall opposite of Meiringen, about 2 km to the south from the Sherlok-Holmes-museum.
Conan Doyle - the author of Sherlok Holmes - was a regular guest in Meiringen and he was so very much impressed of the scenery of Reichenbachfall, that he thought, this would be the perfect place to die for his famous dedective.
Another famous sight of Meiringen is Aareschlucht, a gorge, where the river Aare flows through a rather narrow valley - at first the rocks on both sides of the gorge are in a distance of 200 meters and at the end you may touch the rocks on both sides at the same time. 1400 meters of artificial paths, tunnels and bridges are leading you through the gorge. In my personal opinion Aareschlucht is somehow over-rated and only recommendable, when you have not seen similar places like Truemmelbach in Lauterbrunnen first.
The village of Meiringen has still plenty of old wooden houses and so it makes sense to take a little walk. Next to the church you will see some of the most beautiful houses with lovely balconies, full of flowers - read more about it on my Meiringen-page !
Meiringen is in a distance of 75 minutes from Luzern. Direct trains will run once an hour and will be included in the Tell-Pass !
Brienz & the scenic Bruenig-pass might be another great day-excursion from Luzern. At Brienz you may leave the train at Hauptbahnhof and cross the street in order to board the old steam-trains taking you up to Brienzer Rothorn for one of the most scenic train-rides and panorama-views of Switzerland.
Brienz is also famous for since several centuries already for it's wooden houses - many of them are hundreds of years old and saw celebrities like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Lord Byron and Ludwig Uhland, who visited Brienz and stayed there for some time - see my last picture of Hotel Weisses Kreuz, the hotel where these famous people had stayed.
The total train-ride will take 90 minutes and a direct train is leaving once an hour from Luzern Hauptbahnhof, the journey from Luzern to Brienz is included in the Tell-Pass, BUT Brienzer Rothorn is NOT !!
When you intend to go to the Brienzer Rothorn + several other funiculars and mountain-trains around the Jungfrauregion, the Regionalpass Berner Oberland will be the best option !
Suider'sche Apotheke is a Must for all fans of old and interesting architecture and the building is dating back to the year 1428. Take a look at my pictures in order to see the various styles that were combined there to a great and interesting building. In one of the windows you may see the interior of a medieval pharmacy (see my last picture)
Suider'sche Apotheke is between Jesuiten-Kirche and Franziskaner-Kirche - don't miss it !
Schwyz is certainly a great place to go to from Lucerne / Luzern as a day-excursion. Schwyz is just a small village of 12.000 inhabitants, but THIS is the place that gave the name for all of Switzerland. Already in the year 972 Schwyz was mentioned in history and it used to be an important stop-over for the merchants travelling over the Gotthard-Route to Italy or Germany. Schwyz made a union in 1291 with 2 other cantons: Waldstaetten Uri and Unterwalden. Schwyz is not only the name of that small town, but also of the Kanton / canton.
Take a look at this lovely townhall that is decorated by precious frescos all over the facades.
There are also a few watch-towers of the old medieval fortifications left in the village and of course there is a great church with a lovely interior.
In Schwyz you may also see an interesting Museum inside the Ital-Reding-Hofstatt : it was built in 1609 and has still the original furniture of that time !
Next to Ital Reding-Hof , and still inside the fence of it you may see "Haus Bethlehem" dating back to the year 1287 - it is the oldest wooden building in Switzerland
Ital-Reding-Hofstatt & Bethlehem-Haus is open for visitors:
April-November :Tuesday-Friday 02.00p-m- - 05.00p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 10.00a.m.-12.00
+ 02.00p.m.- 05.00p.m
Sonnenberghaus im Zoepfli is a beautiful house down at the river, built next to the bridge and almost opposite of Jesuitenkirche. This beautiful building was first mentioned in the chronicals of Luzern in 1513. At that time it used to be a wooden house, and it was rebuilt in 1662. In 1787 it was sold to Marshall Jakob Anton Thuering von Sonnenberg who rebuilt it in the way you may see it today: great frescos at the facades, the clock under the roof, and a precious interior with nice tapestries and tiles-ovens.
Vitznau is a small village at the Lake Lucerne / Vierwaldstaetter See. You may get there by car, by train or by ship. Most people go to Vitznau in order to take the mountain-cog-railway to RIGI , one of the highlights of your stay in Luzern and Vierwaldstaetter See. On a clear day you will have a terrific panorama-view of the lakes and mountains around Lucerne and may even see the summits of Eiger, Moench, Jungfrau etc. in a far distance.
Rigi is 1798 meters high and Mark Twain enjoyed a sunrise there in 1880 and explained it in one of his books !
On your way back you may use the cablecar to Weggis and return by ship to Luzern.
the Rigi-Zahnradbahn / cogwheel-train
runs daily 07.00a.m. till 10.00p.m.
the ride takes about 30 minutes to Rigi-Kulm
The cablecar to Weggis takes just 10 minutes
and is operated daily 07.00a.m. till 07.45p.m.
Bruenig-Pass is an important pass-road south of Luzern, it is not as steep as Grimsel-pass or Furka-pass, but the road is quite narrow and obvertaking is mostly totally impossible. Giswil is an interesting place for a stop-over maybe, or you simply pass by and take a look down at the lake from the pass, like I did. There is a petrol-station, a large hotel and restaurant and also an old train of Brienzer Rothornbahn at Bruenigpass.
Mostly quite close to the road is also the train-line : Bruenig-Bahn is a cog-wheel-train, that also has a different track-size, that is the reason, why there are NO direct trains from Zurich to Brienz. That cog-wheel-trainline starts at Luzern and ends at Interlaken OST.
When you take the train, take a look at the right, when you pass by a lake and you will see the spire of a church-tower looking out of the water, last time when driving over Bruenig-pass, I did not see it, maybe the road does not pass by there, maybe it is finally drowned in the artificial lake.
Kuessnacht is just a small village close to Luzern and you may easily go there by car, by train or even by ship. According to the legends it was in Kuessnacht, where Wilhelm Tell killed Gessler in the "Hohle Gasse".
Hohle Gasse means "narrow pass" and when you enlarge my pictures, you will see how this is ment : This "Hohle Gasse" was the only way for Gessler to ride up and down from his castle, high above Lake Lucerne (you may still see the ruins of that castle).
So it was rather easy for Wilhelm Tell to just wait behind the bushes for the right moment to kill Gessler, who could in this very moment not be protected by his guards , because they eighter had to ride in front or behind of him.
At one end of the Hohle Gasse there is the Tell-chapel and at the lower end there is a a small museum with a few exhibits and explanations.
That museum is open all the time it is made just by a few windows inside a house without doors.
Hohle gasse is a bit outside of the village, BUT plenty of signposts will lead you there. The distance to the lake is maybe 800 meters and the local bus goes there as well and stops at the stop, called : Hohle Gasse.
Hotel Engel in Kuessnacht am Rigi is a traditional hotel and and certainly the most beautiful building of that small village. Hotel Engel was also the place, where the "Eidgenossen" had their meeting first in 1424 and afterwards several times again untill 1712 A.D.
In October 7th, 1797 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe spent the night in that hotel.
This alpenhorn factory was awesome! It was not busy at all, in fact my family was the only one in there, and I think I know why. It's hard to find.....It's located in Kriens, just outside of Lucerne under the famous and beautiful Mount Pilatus. Anyways, they actually make and sell hand-made (you'll see how they make them) alphorns! The owner is a skilled player and has a CD you can purchase for 40 swiss francs, as well as miniature alphorns! He will even let you try to play one. Very difficult I must say! It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about Alphorns and Swiss history! YOU HAVE TO GO THERE! IT'S A MUST!
Address: Alphornbau, J Stocker, Schweighof, CH-6010 Kriens
Just 20kms from Luzern, we came across the Village of Werthenstein. We could see a large, White building, so took the turn-off that looked to lead there. We headed across the Little River Emme, and followed the road up the hill to the White Building which turned out to be Kloster Werthenstein. Standing on a Rocky Outcrop, it's thought it was once a Castle.
There is a legend, and it goes something like this.........................
"Some Dutch men were panning for gold in 1500's and had to spend the night outdoors because of a delay on the Emme. As an admirer of Marie said the night prayer, he heard angels singing and saw a bright light. Then he visited the site every day and hung a picture representing the coronation of Mary."
The word got around and more people visited the site. In 1518, a chapel was built, and later the church was enlarged and consecrated in 1616.
During the Reformation, the miraculous image of Fribach (Canton Berne) came to Werthenstein, which is still venerated by pilgrims. Between the17th and 18th centuries, tens of thousands made the pilgrimage to Werthenstein, to ask for courage, comfort, confidence and healing. The Franciscans have held over 400 miracles.
In1838, the Franciscan monastery was abolished by the Lucerne government and the furniture sold as it was to be used as a Deaf and Dumb Institute.
Since 1909, the Church served the local Parish and Pilgrim's.
Pilgrim's still have been coming, even creating some "boom" years!
We chose Route 10 to drive to Luzern as I had read it was quite a scenic route. We had already been on some of the other routes and we didn't want to drive over the same territory.
From Thun, we joined onto it at the Town of Jaberg when heading towards Bern. We followed the route past big Snow capped Mountains, big Dairy farms, beautiful green pastures and many scenic, small Villages. We saw Swiss Cows, Farm stay's, many Crop's, some gorgeous small Churches and Roadside Chapel's. At Werthenstein, their was an Abbey plus the little Village was quite pretty.
Well, Route 10 didn't disappoint!
I was able to go inside the Kloster, but not the Church as there was a Christening Service.
The churchyard is surrounded by a Renaissance style Cloister. The wall's are full of old frescoes, and on the floor are graves, some were quite recent. I was also able to see where the spring water came slowly out of the well pipe, and into a font. The water is meant to help people who have arthritis and other ailment's, relieving them of their suffering. I didn't try it!
The medieval wall with its nine towers still guards the historic city of Lucerne and is almost entirely intact. While other cities throughout Switzerland demolished their medieval fortifications during the 19th century, Lucerne was aware of their historic and tourist value and preserved rather than destroyed its medieval heritage.
The Musegg Wall, built in 1386, contains a series of nine towers that are part of the rampart walls that surround the historic part of the city. They span approximately 2,600 feet (800m) and in many places you will find them as part of more modern structures.
During May to October three of the nine towers, Schirmer, Zyt, and Männli, are open to the public and admission is free. Many tourists overlook this historic monument but I think you should make this part of your city walking tour. Not only will you enjoy the architecture, the old paintings on the towers and the ancient clock built in 1535, a view from these towers gives you a panoramic vista of the entire city and the lake. It is a great photo opportunity.
On the City Guide map that every hotel and the Tourist Information center near the train station give out, you can find the Hotel Gutsch in the very upper right hand corner of the Lucerne street layouts, near the blue P mark for parking. You can even see the short little railroad indication for the cable car. It is at Red Identification number 67 on the map.
So staying on the left side of the river, stroll along the river until you get to the Natural History Museum. Cross the street and walk down the left hand side of Baselstrasse. At the intersection of Baselstrasse and the side street called Bruchstrasse look to your left. You will see a yellow house with green shutters. Just above it, on a hill to the left, is a red Victorian looking house with spires. On the right hand side of the yellow house is where the stairs begin if you want to walk up to Chateau Gutsch. The alleyway and stair area is known as Gutschweg.
Or you can walk down Baselstrasse one more block and then turn left on Gibraltarstrasse. Just walk on down to the yellow house with the green shutters on the right -hand side of the street. Turn into Gutschweg and start climbing the stairs. Just a little way up you will go to the right to climb up to the summit.
The cable car station is about a half-block further down Baselstrasse. Look for the signs.