Kapellbrücke - Chapel Bridge, Lucerne

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Still a 'must' for most...

    by leics Written Jul 1, 2013

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    The Kapellbruecke was once a wonderful early-Medieval wooden bridge, spanning the river Reuss and including the Wasserturm. The Wasseturm ('water tower') gets its name from the fact that it stands in the water of the river....at various times in the past it's been a lighthouse, a prison, and a treasury). It was built about 30 years before the first bridge, around 1303.

    You'll almost certainly want to see it, because it is perhaps *the* main sight of Lucerne.

    The original Kappellbruecke was built for defensive purposes and was longer than the version which now stands (because changes have been made to the riverbank over the centuries).

    What made the Kapellbruecke, and Lucerne's two other pedestrian bridges (the Spreurubruecke from the 1600s and the no-longer-visible Hofbruekke from the 1300s) unique were the paintings which each one had on its numerous triangular roof panels...something found nowhere else in Europe. The paintings in the Kapellbruecke were not Medieval; they dated from the 1600s and showed scenes from the history of Lucerne.

    But almost all of this was lost when...tragically... the bridge burned down in 1993, the fire starting on a boat moored nearby. There were 147 paintings surviving at that time: fragments of only 47 were found, and only 30 of those have been restored. The paintings you see now are largely modern replicas.

    And little of the bridge survived the fire either, just the landside ends.

    Yes, the Kapellbruecke has been beautifully and accurately restored and yes, you can see a very few of the original paintings. But most of it is simply a replica and, to me, that fact dramatically reduces it interest.

    I did walk across it, along with a myriad other visitors from elsewhere. Some charred timbers have been re-used and I got a whiff of burned wood as I started my crossing from the Rathausquai....something I wasn't expecting 20 years after the fire. The replica bridge and paintings have been beautifully done and I fully recognise the skill and dedication of those who re-created them both...and I fully appreciate the cost in time and money which Lucerne felt was essential in re-creating this most photographed of bridges.

    But the Kapellbruecke, as it stands now, is simply not the Medieval original and it is important that visitors recognise that fact.

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  • Odiseya's Profile Photo

    Chapel Bridge

    by Odiseya Written Dec 15, 2012
    Kapellbr��cke exterior
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    Chapel Bridge (German: Kapellbrücke) is famous landmark of Luzern and, for main opinion, whole Switzerland.
    This is a covered wooden footbridge and its build over Reuss River. It was named after the nearby St. Peter's Chapel. Besides characteristic exterior of the bridge maybe more interesting was interior with paintings. That paintings was dating back to the 17th (1614) century. It is triangular, painted roof panels that line its ceiling. Author was Heinrich Wägmann. Those paintings represents important events from Swiss history and mythology. Sadly, many of them were destroyed along with most of the old bridge in a fire in 1993. Only 30 of paintings was saved.
    The Kapellbrücke is also the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe and it considered for world's oldest surviving truss bridge.

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  • Maryimelda's Profile Photo

    The Icon of Lucerne

    by Maryimelda Updated Oct 24, 2011

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    Main part of the bridge
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    Kappelbruecke was built in 1333. It is a long and winding wooden bridge which spans the Reuss River in the centre of Lucerne. It includes the landmark Wassertuerm (Water Tower) which makes it easily recognisable from a distance and is located at about the quarter way mark from the Jesuitenkirche side of the river. For a good part of each year Kappelbruecke is bedecked full length on both sides with the most beautifully coloured flowers. The picture is amazing.

    Sadly, the bridge was horrendously damaged by fire in 1992 and was rebuilt faithful to the original design. Many of the famous paintings which are found under the roof were badly damaged and whilst some were able to be rehung many others were unrecognisable. However, rather than replace them, their charred remains were put back and now serve as a reminder of that important part of the history of Kappelbruecke.

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  • GeoV's Profile Photo

    Kapellbrücke paintings

    by GeoV Written Mar 7, 2010

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    The bridge is, for most people, the principal sight of Lucerne and rightly so - this is one of Europe's most interesting and attractive bridges. The fire of 1993 which destroyed many of the historic paintings represented a major loss for Switzerland and Europe as a whole. Nevertheless, the successful restoration and reconstruction has returned the Kapellbrücke to where it belongs among the sights of Switzerland which one really should see. The picture of one of the bridge paintings was taken in 1988 and is, perhaps, an interesting comparison for visitors of how the restoration work matches up to the original paintings.

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  • MaheshSamtani's Profile Photo

    THE CHAPEL BRIDGE

    by MaheshSamtani Updated Nov 9, 2009

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    The Chapel bridge of Lucerne is another very famous and historic Swiss landmark and for sure a very good reason to go to Lucerne. Originally called the Kapellbrücke, located just in front of the main station in Lucerne, the oldest wooden bridge in Switzerland, dating back to the 14th century, which is covered and running diagonally across the Reuss river.

    Beside the bridge is the octagonal water tower which is said to have served as many things from a prison to a treasury.

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  • riorich55's Profile Photo

    Right Outside Our Hotel

    by riorich55 Written Apr 22, 2009

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    A Look From the Unphotographed Side

    We arrived in Lucerne at about 11:30 a.m. for the last day of our almost 2 week holiday in Europe. After an easy walk from the train station to our hotel we started our venture through town. After a walk through parts of the old town we came back to our hotel, walked out the back door and lo and behold the famous bridge was literally just a hop, skip and jump away.

    I won't go into the history of the bridge here, since it has been well covered by others here on VT. I will give you one impression though. As we were crossing the bridge from the entrance you see here to the other side an elderly gentlemen with a long white beard lay asleep on one of the long benches inside the bridge. As we passed I overhead a little girl in German say what I think I interpretted as that St. Nick (Santa Claus) was napping on the bridge. I looked at a video I took of the scene and indeed he could have been mistaken for a resting St. Nick.

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  • Tripack's Profile Photo

    The most famous bridge in Switzerland

    by Tripack Written Aug 8, 2008

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    Kapellbrücke or Chapel Bridge is probably one of the most famous Swiss landmark.
    It was constructed over the Reuss River in the first half of the XIVth century as part of the city fortufucations and remains the oldest wooden bridge in Europe. Named after nearby St. Peter's chapel. The paintings that were added in the XVIIth century illustrate scenes of Swiss and local history including the biographies of the city's patron Saints Leodegar and Mauritius.

    This Swiss heritage was heavily destroyed by a dramatic fire in 1993. Swiss population was deeply affected by this disaster and after an impressive national collect to rise fund. The bridge was quicky rebuilt in only 8 months but 78 of the initial 111 paintings were irreparably damaged.

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  • Chapel Bridge

    by Phalaenopsis03 Updated Jun 10, 2008

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    In addition to the Lion Monument, the Chapel Bridge is also a Lucerne highlight and you can't miss it (it's right on the river). Built in 1333 to ward off enemy attacks, the landmark is the oldest wooden bridge in Europe. Inside the bridge are a series of paintings from the 17th century depicting events from Lucerne's history. A 1993 fire destroyed much of the bridge, but it was quickly rebuilt. The bridge is 670 feet in length and spans the width of the Reuss River. Adjoining the bridge is the octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturm), which stands 140 feet tall and has served as a prison, torture chamber, watchtower, and treasury.

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    Kapellbrücke 2

    by al_mary Written Feb 4, 2008

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    The Kapellbrücke, "Chapel Bridge"
    in German, is a 204 m (670 ft) long
    bridge crossing the Reuss River in
    the city of Lucerne in Switzerland.

    It is the oldest wooden bridge in
    Europe, and one of Switzerland's main
    tourist attractions.

    The covered bridge, constructed in 1333,
    was designed to helpprotect the city of
    Lucerne from attacks. Inside the bridge
    are a series of paintings from the 17th
    century depicting events from Luzern's history.

    Adjoining the bridge is the 140 feet tall Wasserturm
    (Water Tower), an octagonal tower made from brick,
    which has served as a prison,torture chamber,
    watchtower and treasury.

    Today the tower, which is part of the city wall, is used
    as the guild hall of the artillery association. The tower
    and the bridge are Lucerne's trademark and form the
    most photographed monument in the country.

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    Kapellbrücke 1

    by al_mary Updated Feb 4, 2008

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    3 more images

    The Kapellbrücke, "Chapel Bridge"
    in German, is a 204 m (670 ft) long
    bridge crossing the Reuss River in
    the city of Lucerne in Switzerland.

    It is the oldest wooden bridge in
    Europe, and one of Switzerland's main
    tourist attractions.

    The covered bridge, constructed in 1333,
    was designed to helpprotect the city of
    Lucerne from attacks. Inside the bridge
    are a series of paintings from the 17th
    century depicting events from Luzern's history.

    Adjoining the bridge is the 140 feet tall Wasserturm
    (Water Tower), an octagonal tower made from brick,
    which has served as a prison,torture chamber,
    watchtower and treasury.

    Today the tower, which is part of the city wall, is used
    as the guild hall of the artillery association. The tower
    and the bridge are Lucerne's trademark and form the
    most photographed monument in the country.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo

    The Bridge

    by BruceDunning Updated Nov 18, 2007

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    Water tower at bridge
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    Chapel Bridge is the more famous of two crossing the river. Its name derived from the St. Peters church being across the river and directly connected by the bridge to the other side. It was built in 1333 and is 670 feet long.The fame part is not only the angle bridge, but the paintings over the trusses. Due to the fire in 1993, there were about 60 paintings of 111 at the roof of the bridge destroyed. It is alleged the fire was part of a protest by some group and it burned over 1/3 of the bridge. They are now almost all reconstructed/redone in the original theme from old artifact scetches to trace by.
    I believe the other bridge as as impressive, called the Spreuer bridge. It was built 80 years after the first, and it is more well preserved, and more medieval feeling. The paintings along the trusses are more morbid, as intended because they are depicting black death. The artist conveyed that no one is immune from death, and ties it to the black plague of the 1500's that killed 2/3 of Europe population. The spire tower hanging over the river is a small chapel and you need to squeeze by in heavy traffic. The river flow is very impressive here because of its swiftness.

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  • colin_bramso's Profile Photo

    Most beautiful bridge...

    by colin_bramso Written Oct 22, 2007

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    Chapel Bridge, Lucerne
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    This has to be one of the world's most beautiful bridges. Walk to it, walk across it, photograph it.

    Originally built in 1333 it features a large number of paintings, beautiful flower displays and an octagonal water tower. It twists and turns too, it's not a simple straight bridge, making it even more interesting.

    It stands in a beautiful part of the old city.

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  • barbskie's Profile Photo

    Popular Spot-The Chapel Bridge

    by barbskie Updated Apr 9, 2007

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    Chapel Bridge is named after the nearby St. Peter's chapel. The paintings that were added in the 17th century illustrate scenes of the City's history. The attached octagonal Water Tower - Lucerne"s trademark - was built around 1300.

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  • globetrott's Profile Photo

    Wasserturm - the tower of Kapellbruecke

    by globetrott Updated Jan 12, 2007

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    Wasserturm is the name of the massif stone-tower that was added to Kapellbruecke during the 14th century. That tower is not round, but an octagon and it was first used as a prison-tower, later as a watchtower and finally also as a treasury. The wooden top of that tower is not accessible !
    Nowadays there is a souvenir-shop inside that tower.
    Kapellbruecke is still made of thick wooden truncks and it is swinging a bit, when you walk over it. Unfortunately you have to step up a few steps at both sides of the river : that way the bridge is not accesible by wheel-chairs !

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  • globetrott's Profile Photo

    Kapellbruecke - the most polpular sight

    by globetrott Written Jan 10, 2007

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    Kapellbruecke is the name of the wooden bridge across the river Reuss. This bridge is the most popular sight that almost all of the tourists think of, when thinking about Luzern / Lucerne. Kapellbruecke is 203 meters long and it dates back to the year 1333. The bridge is covered by a wooden roof under which 111 paintings were added in the 17th century. Unfortunately a fire destroyed 86 of these paintings in 1993,and they had to be replaced by repilcas.
    You may walk across that bridge day and night freely and without restrictions, it is still the most popular way to cross the river for pedestrians. At night it is lighted and some of the paintings look even a bit better at night and it gets more easy to take perfect photographs.

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