Lucerne's Altstadt is full of buildings with painted facades. Many (probably most) only date from the 1800s-early 1900s, although painting the front of your building was fashionable in much ealier centuries. I saw many mid-Medieval external frescoes in the 'painted city' of Clusone, Italy, for example....
Most of Lucerne's painted facades look 'modern' to me (that is, dating from the 1800s onwards) and even if a few were originally older their careful restoration and regular upkeep makes them pretty-much impossible to spot. But, despite all of that, the frescoes do add an interesting element to any wander around the Altstadt.
Lucerne's Altstadt, whilst beautifully maintained, still retains sense of times past. The narrow alleyways leading from square to square, the imposing several-storeyed buildings (visible demonstrations of the owner's wealth and power), the painted frontages, the 'many-eyed' roofs ...
Ignore the modern shops, ignore the clean streets and the pretty buildings and imagine the busy throngs of townspeople, the smells of humans and animals, of waste and baking, of beer and fish.....add some street urchins and stray dogs, some beggars and horses, lots of carts and lots of noise...and you'll have an idea of what once really was.
Look out for oriel windows...they were a real 'must-have' at one time and have often been 'stuck' onto much older buildings, sometimes looking rather odd.
Shutters of course: how else to keep out the cold and the wind, and the heat, when no double-glazing existed?
And there still remain just a few small statues on street corners. Look up....
Lucerne's Altstadt is lovely but, if you want to see more of its historical reality, you need to look a bit more closely...and always, always look up! :-)
Lucerne's Rathaus was built in the very early 1600s in Italian Renaissance style but i'm pretty sure that it includes part of the earlier building, dating from the 1400s. I haven't been able to find much information about it but the clock tower is, imo, clearly much older than the rest of the Rathaus...and the later building joins the tower in a rather odd way.
It seems that the first Rathaus was in the Fischmarkt and it was moved to this area in 1447. I would suggest that the existing clocktower, at least its lower parts, is part of that first 15th-century structure. If you look closely you can see where the masonry has been changed and added over the centuries...and the windows at the bottom of the tower are, imo, early Medieval rather than later replicas.
Other than the town walls and towers, the Rathaus clocktower is the only bit of still-visible early Medieval structure I found in Lucerne's Altstadt, other. All the other old structures are so well maintained that it is difficult to get a valid sense of their age.
Next stop, and it's at the oldest Church in Lucerne, which is the small St Peter’s Chapel that was built in 1178, when a Priest was appointed to take care of the population.
Inside, it was nothing real fancy, but a lovely little Chapel to sit in peace and pray.
It is located in the Kapellplatz, which was named after St Peter’s and so was the 14th century Chapel Bridge.
A complete walk around the outside, found an old Mural, and a rather nice wooden door.
My VT FRIEND, are you getting hungry, I am, so what about finding somewhere beside the River Reuss for lunch?
We walk along the Rathausquai, alongside the River Reuss, checking out Restaurant's as we go. There are so many to choose from!
Eventually we settle for the Hotel Des Alpes. There is food on the menu we like, the price isn't bad, and we found a seat under a Umbrella beside the River and with a close view of Chapel Bridge.
We had Beef Stroganoff which came with vegetable's and filled the plate, plus Bread Roll's. It was very nice.
What a lovely position to sit and enjoy our meal, I just couldn't help myself and had to throw some pieces of bread to the Swan's! I think they know they get fed!
Located on the River Reuss, upstream from the Spreuerbruecke, are the wooden water spikes (Nadelwehr from the word nadeln meaning needle).
Not all were sticking out of the water like I had seen in photo's. It all depends on the water level to what you see.
Built between 1859-1860, these Spike's are lowered into or withdrawn from the water manually to regulate the water level of Lake Lucerne. It was built to replace the Reuss steps that channelled the water over to the city mills. The spikes are still in use, and it was quite interesting watching the water rushing through on its way to a Hydro-electric plant. Calm one side, rushing, gurgling, frothy white water the otherside!
Then we had a look at the Weir, and saw more rushing water!
A MUST DO, is to walk alongside the River Reuss on BOTH SIDES!
The views are very different for each side, and it is nice to get some waterfront photo's.
I wondered, did you know there are 7 Bridges in Lucerne? I didn't, because I usually only and read about the most famoust one, and that is Chapel Bridge. Well, The first bridge over the River Reuss was first mentioned in 1168.
We walked across the famous Chapel bridge first. The Water Tower is located a little way along the Bridge and that and the Bridge were part of the medieval city rampart's. The Tower was used as a dungeon, an archive and a treasury vault until the 19th century. Now, it is an Association's Club room, so no entry!
Lucky for us, the Flower Basket's were hanging on the side's of the Bridge, making it a very pretty spectacle! The bridge is believed to be the oldest wooden bridge in Switzerland, dating to the 14th century.
We remembered to LOOK UP, don't forget!.....as this is where we saw all the old paintings, and you don't want to miss this!
Chapel bridge is located where the waters of Lake Lucerne flow into River Reuss.
The next Bridge we come across is the Rauthaussteg. This Bridge has nice wrought iron railing and street Lamp's and good views to Chapel Bridge.
The 1947 Spreuerbrucke Bridge, is also roofed, and between 1626 - 1635, 67 paintings were done on the underside the roof, so, LOOK UP!
These are scenes from the Dance of Death, dating from the early 17th century. This Bridge, completed in 1408, was also part of the medieval fortification's.This bridge was completed as a part of the city fortification in 1408.
It is called the Spreuer Bridge because this was the only place that the chaff from wheat (Spreu) could be dumped into the river.
Chapel & Spreuer bridge's are the only covered wooden ones.
Schweizerhofquai Bridge, is the main one where the River Reuss enters Lake Lucerne. It is busy, and its nearby, that you find the Cruise boats.
Geissmattbrucke Bridge is another busy Car bridge. If you turn into the road that has the Tower, then you get to drive through the Tower.
Now we are stopping at lovely Weinmarkt fountain in the square of the same name. This square dates back to between the 15th & 17th centuries, and is where Passion Play's were held. Can you imagine it full of people, enjoying the play?
In the centre, the Gothic Fountain depicts St. Mauritius (patron saint of warriors).
We have a walk around here, as many of the building's have 16th century frescoes.
Haus zur Sonne, which is painted light Green, has the 1928 fresco, "Marriage at Canaan" by Eduard Renggli. Another frescoed building is Mullersche Apotheke, a "drugstore" from 1530.
The old town of Lucerne is just beautiful! It is where you have to walk slowly through the narrow cobblestone laneways, remembering to look up, as well as look around.
We saw so many beautiful frescoed building's, and many beautiful wrought iron sign's hanging high above the shop entrance's. There were little Cafe's, we found some more Fountain's, interesting shop's, and we just generally enjoyed getting lost! It was fun!
The area is not that big to walk around, so put on those "real" walking shoes, and enjoy!
Located in the Kornmarkt is the Pfistern guildhall. We stood and looked at the amazing fresco on the front of this building.
It is the Pfistern family Tree, and on the branches are local coats of arms of various families which lived in the city,
What an amazing piece of work, hard enough to do on paper, let alone on the front of a building! The former Guild Hall is now a restaurant serving Swiss specialties.
Now we are looking at another detailed fresco on a building close by Restaurant Fritschi.
This one is very detailed, and even is painted under the eave's.
Next to it, is the Stadkeller music restaurant, and this is where you go to see Swiss Folklore while you eat your meal. Yodelling, Cow bell ringing, Alphorn's, Flag throwing and traditional dress!
Just a few step's more, and we see the most colourful, funny, medieval frescoe on a Dining establishment.
Now, this Fresco is a replica, never mind, it still is interesting if you take a closer look.
The Restaurant is named Fritschi Restaurant, and I wondered if any of the figure's in the Fresco, represented the Fritschi Family, who knows! The building has been here since 1602, and it looked to be doing a roaring trade.
Main courses were priced between 26 - 45 sfr's.
Located on Ledergasse, just a little away from Kapellplatz.
Built in 1400's by Archduke Freidrich IV to show the wealth of the gentry. It has 2657 covered copper tiles. In 1500 it was reworked for Maximilian I to serve as a region seat of Government. He used to hang out on the balcony in the main square of the old town section and address the peasants, or make a speech of greatness. Many jousting tournaments were held in the square and the ruling party sat in the boxes on the balcony for good views; of course. Today it houses the Alpine Convention Center offices.
Once you finish crossing the chapel bridge you get into the old town which has quite some impressing frescos on different facades in quite some of the picturesque squares of this part of the city. Really impressing. I have posted pictures of different facades that I managed to get and for some reason or another I have the feeling that I must have left out some other very good sights.
Don't be afraid to be a tourist and just wander about. Old Town Lucerne attracts visitors from all over the globe and is very pedestrian friendly. It's a lovely city that offers old world charm with modern world sensibilities. Walk alongside the Reuss River and meander through the many squares/plazas. Sit down for a cheese fondue lunch and satisfy your sweet tooth with a handful of Swiss chocolates from the Merkur Chocolaterie. Really, just enjoy yourself and soak in the pristine Swiss air. I did and had a wonderful time.