Before I begin this quick post on Lucerne, I need to address something that's bothering me. These Switzerland posts are causing flashbacks to high school, when my math teacher, Mr. Marshall, would force us to sit through his grainy vacation slide shows from his trips to the Philippines, where his son was stationed in the military.
I have a sneaky, underlying suspicion that this series of vacation posts may somehow be the equivalent to Mr. Marshall's hideously boring slide shows. My only consolation is that you have the ability to skim--or skip them entirely at your will. Your grade will not be affected--and I promise not to assign extra homework. (Though I will make you stand with your nose in the corner.)
Okay, you've been given an out. And now the vacation post will resume...
Lucerne is famous for its bridges. It's located at the meeting point of the Reuss River and Lake Lucerne, in central Switzerland.
The bridge in these photos is known as the Water Tower Bridge, or "Wasserturm Brücke." It was built in the 14th century, as part of the town's defense system. Because of its location, Lucerne became a bustling trade center between northern and southern Europe by the 13th century.
(It is said that the swans who live here were a gift from the French King Louis XIV.)
Large sections of the famous Water Tower Bridge burned in 1993, after a boat parked underneath it caught fire and sent sparks onto the wooden bridge. Many of the famous paintings inside the walkway of the bridge were lost. Entire sections had to be rebuilt. Boats are no longer allowed under the bridge. The swans must smoke elsewhere as well.
The interior is decorated in a Rococo style (c.1750.)...says the guidebook. All I know is, I'm with Team Rococo!
The decorations on the ceiling celebrate the life of Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuit order. Dang bro, that hat's off the hook.
The Mill Bridge, or Spreuerbrücke, is the other famous bridge in Lucerne. This one is untouched and completely original, filled with 17-century paintings. There's also a small 16th-century chapel built within it (the small red outbuilding midway across,) which the local townspeople are in charge of decorating year round.
All of the paintings have skeletons somewhere in them. It was said that the presence of these skeletons was a daily reminder to the townspeople who crossed the bridge, that nobody could escape death. The Swiss equivalent to Debbie Downer, I suppose.
Lake Lucerne was quiet in late Fall. In the summer time, all the boats are out the lake cruising and playing chicken with one another.
We walked around the lake and headed for one of my favorite things.
Hidden away in a little park is a gorgeous monument of a lion, which represents the Swiss mercenaries who were killed while defending the French King during the French Revolution.
'...the mighty lion rests his paws on his shield, with his head cocked to one side, tears streaming down his cheeks. In his side is the broken-off end of a spear, which is slowly killing the noble beast.'
Standing in front of this monument will cause even street-smart hooligans like me to openly bawl.
Once the hiccups and involuntary sobbing are reigned in, I will regain my composure and show you some of the painted buildings in Lucerne.
Some facades worth seeing in Lucerne...
"Wolfgang von Goethe slept here in 1779."
More elaborate paintings...
This is a more recently painted Lucerne facade, in a Fastnach--or Mardi Gras theme. This building is a restaurant--its owners, Mr. and Mrs. Fritshi currently alive and well, are depicted in costume on the front. It looks less creepy in the photo than it does in real life.
And so, class, there you have a pretty crappy tour of Lucerne, Switzerland. Is anyone still here? Hello? Helloooooo? Damn.
PS-It's currently snowing outside my window. I am filled with a white hot anger, pouring into my gut like molten lava.