The city of Lucerne is perhaps one of the instantly recognizable and well photographed cities in Switzerland and much of its initial appeal can be attributed to the famous Kappelbruecke which spans the beautiful River Reuss right in the heart of town. It passes through Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstattersee) before continuing through the town of Lucerne, where its level is kept pretty well constant by an innovative needle dam which can be found not far from Speuersbruecke (the bridge of the Death Dance) in the main part of Lucerne. It is 158 kilometers long and eventually becomes the River Aare which empties into the mighty Rhine and ultimately into the North Sea.
It is one of the truly beautiful rivers and is made even more beautiful by hundreds of magnificent swans which call it home.
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.
Did you know there are 7 Bridges in Lucerne? I didn't as I only read about the most famous 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 ramparts. The Tower was used as a dungeon, an archive and a treasury vault until the 19th century. Now, it is an Associations Club room, so no entry!
Lucky for us, the Flower Baskets were hanging on the sides of the Bridge, making it a very pretty spectacle! The bridge dates to the 14th century and is believed to be the oldest wooden bridge in Switzerland.
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 Lamps and good views to Chapel Bridge.
The Spreuerbrucke Bridge is not the original bridge erected in 1408 but destroyed by storm in 1566, this is the new Bridge from 1568. The small chapel on the bridge also dates back to 1568.
The 1408 bridge was built to connect the mills with the baker's quarter on the left bank of River Reuss. Although the majority of medieval Lucerne is located on the right bank of River Reuss, the Bakers had to stay on the left bank as they kept their stove alight all night. People were worried if they were situated in the medieval part of town, a fire may break out and destroy the whole town.
If you take note of the buildings, you will see there isn't a wooden house still standing in the old town of Lucerne, the exceptions are located just outside the medieval ramparts.
The Spreuerbrucke Bridge has under its roof, 67 paintings dating from 1626 to 1635 representing a "Dance of Death". Death is represented as a skeleton or as the "Great Reaper," who is depicted trying to get everybody to dance with him so they die. . The Dance of Death was designed by chief painter Kaspar Meglinger.
Do have a look at the website to see the paintings
The Chapel & Spreuer bridge's are the only covered wooden bridges.
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.
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 Spikes 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!
The Haus Zur Gilden is located on the northern bank of the River Reuss and is the last building on Rathausquai before the river flows into the lake. The most impressive part of the building is the round tower with pointed spire. The building was home to the Zur Gilgen family and many famous people have stayed here over the years including Victor Hugo and couriers of the Pope. The building was destroyed by a fire in 1495 but was rebuilt between the years 1506 and 1510.
Lucerne's 'Needle Weir' or 'Nadelwehr' is one of Lucerne's most unique features. The function of the weir is to regulate the water flow of the River Reuss. This is achieved by lowering and raising the wooden 'spikes' of the weir into the water. This is done by hand. The Needle Weir was constructed in 1860 but this was not the first time the water was artificially regulated. Before the weir was built the flow was regulated by channeling the water over the 'Reuss Steps' of the city mill. The regulation of the water flow was important for the cities water transport system.
Crossing Kapellbrucke to the north bank, you take the riverside to the left and there you have the promenade down to the Town Hall. If you are looking for the most expensive place to have lunch or just a quick snack here it is :) Nevertheless, if you never read numbers on a menu, the view and athmosphere on the riverside terraces is great. The buildings here are mostly luxury hotels with coresponding restaurants.
Buildings in Lucerne have great style. These two buildings by example, the white one with the two narrow staircases ending with red pointed roofs and the adiacent one, at the same level but wider, with nice facade decorations and a big attic window. This is what makes a city charming.
Coming downstream on the south bank riverside you will end on a very narrow walktrough near the river, so narrow you'll have to wait if a big group is walking from the opposite direction. Standing on that part of the walk will get you dizzy because of the speed of the river, passing below the Speuer Bridge (the second wooden covered bridge).
Downstream Reuss river -- you can see that best from the south bank and from the Spreuer Bridge -- there are the so called "spikes" that are lowered into or withdrawn from water manually to regulate water level of Lake Lucerne. It was built in 1859-60, replacing the Reuss steps that channeled the water over the city mills.
The river flowing trough Lucerne is the River Reuss, one of the largest river in Switzerland and on its way trough Switzerland it goes trough the Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstaettersee in german). The Reuss, the Aar and the Limmat come together in the city of Brugg at the "Watercastle of Europe" and then flows into the big Rhein river which flows trough the entire Germany into the North Sea.
This spot just near the bridge is slower moving water. Upstream a few hundred yards the flow is extreme and gushing over with white caps. It is a picture to behold. No, I do not know what happened to ours. The swan take hand outs. The Reuss River is fairly large and swift. I have seen it at times where you would most likely not be able to swim across due to the current being so fast.
The Reus River is home to the Main Attraction of Lucerne, the Chapel Bridge, which crosses to it and ends to the Jesuit Chapel. The Reus River promenade lies along Banhofstrasse and Rathhausquai at both banks in Lucerne where you can take panoramic photos and videos and selfies. The Reus River starts from Gotthard massif and it also from runs through Lake Lucerne and the water level of the river is controlled at Lucerne via the needle dam (just upstream from the Spreuerbrücke) and then flows to the Rhine. It's length is 158 kilometers long and is the fourth largest river in Switzerland after the Rhine, Aare and Rhône rivers.