Lucerne- a City of Beauty, Bridges and Bliss

The mini beach on the River
Chapel Bridge
View of the river from the bridge
Every row home is so uniquely decorated and designed!
The Chapel Bridge

I am super excited to talk about the city of Lucerne today. Why? Because it is my absolute favorite city I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting and exploring- anywhere. I’ve visited this city twice and I am so in love with it, I carry it with me in my heart all the time and often think back on it. Corny? Absolutely! But this city is deserving of such admiration. Lucerne is considered by many one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It makes many top ten lists by bloggers, travel experts and travel companies. Any European trip that goes through Switzerland will often offer a visit to this city because it is an incredible place. It’s so easy to fall in love with!

I love the energy and the natural beauty of this city and I also adore the historical atmosphere. Lucerne is a city that dates back to the Middle Ages so you will definitely move through the ages, the centuries and decades as you explore and walk around. You will enjoy seeing the various eras of architectural mastery on display throughout your leisurely stroll. From the Gothic to the Classical to the Baroque, the Neoclassic and Art Deco design. You will stroll through time and back in history as far back as at the 14th century. In the city you have stunning architecture and design to admire, but if you look up and out you also have a crystal-clear lake and the Alps framing this picture-perfect view. It is spectacular, the city with the lake and mighty Alps right there. Unreal. The lake Lucerne hugs is called (easily enough) Lake Lucerne and you also have the river Reuss running through the city.  One of the Alpine mountains you can see in the not-so-far distance and can visit is the famous Mt. Pilatus (we will discuss that later). The city is built around nature’s impressive creations.

One of the staple landmarks of Lucerne is the Chapel Bridge. When you see a postcard or photo in a travel magazine or book about this city you will most likely see the Chapel Bridge, or Kapellbruecke as it’s called locally. It is more than just a covered wooden bridge, this bridge dates back to the 14th century and is a treasure. It is actually the oldest covered bridge in all of Europe. Walking along this bridge you have to look UP. Every 6 feet or so above there are majestic and elaborate paintings from the 17th century depicting all types of scenes. Many have survived from a fire that occurred back in the 90s. Despite the damage to some of the exquisite paintings, the bridge is still an artistic masterpiece. On the outside it looks like a simple yet charming covered bridge going over the river with flower boxes covering the outside, but going inside it’s like a wooden cathedral of great art. Just make sure if you’re going to gawk and take photos (which you should!) you stand to the side so as not to get in the way. But don’t rush this bridge, take your time. You get a great view of the city from the bridge as well. I also personally really enjoyed the flowers cascading from the sides, the reds and pinks were stunning next to the light blue water of the river The bridge really comes alive with that colorful accent. Along the river, and seen from the bridge, are lovely rows of homes and buildings. Because of the great view of the river and the bridge, there are many fantastic eateries that welcome you to eat outside by the river and take in the relaxed city view. There is also a small little “beach” where you can dip your toes into the river as well. The area around the Bridge is very tranquil and a great place to sit back for a while and enjoy some food or a glass of whatever you fancy.

The St. Peter’s Chapel is on the one side of the bridge, which is why the bridge is called Chapel Bridge. It’s a beautiful church, very airy and light. On the outside it appears very humble and modest for a church, inside is a burst of pastels and light colors. It’s a very relaxed vibe. Many European cathedrals or churches can sometimes be a little, forgive me, gaudy and over-the-top. Calm down with all the gold filigree, please, this seems a bit excessive for a place to worship! But this church is both beautiful, admirable and natural.

Another sight to check out is the Lion Monument. Carved into a stone boulder, almost like a cave, is a poignant dedication to the Swiss Guards who were massacred in the French Revolution in 1792 when the Tuileries Palace was overtaken. The French Royals, as well as the Vatican, have used and continue to use Swiss Guards for protection. Being a Swiss Guard is a great honor in Switzerland. This commemorative monument features a wounded lion, once mighty and confident, taken down by a broken off arrow. He appears to have stumbled off in excruciating pain into a cave to take his lasts breaths in peace and with dignity. He lays there slumped over, and the facial expression of anguish appears so real it’s hard not to feel this lion’s agony and to not have your heart open up to him. You find yourself just wanting his pain to stop, that’s how genuine and realistic it appears. You feel for him, as you feel for the guards memorialized through this astounding piece of stonework, men who died in a country that was not their own following their duty to protect others as they felt was right. That selflessness is seen in the lion’s eyes, as if he seems to be apologizing for not being able to protect the Royal family. As this mighty creature takes his last breaths, he looks at the spectators and gains their respect and empathy wholeheartedly. He has done his duty to protect as best he could, and he is ready to go in peace and with dignity. Mark Twain called this memorial the “most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world”. This piece of stone artistry has warmed and melted the hearts of so many since the 1820s. Although it is carved in hard stone, it is a soft, innocent and inspirational piece reminding us to embrace our empathy and to honor those who still serve and protect in the Swiss Guard, and perhaps you can expand that to other nations as well and their military and guard units. We thank these guards for their ultimate sacrifice. Framing this emotional scene is a calm, reflective pool with trees and a garden surrounding the monument. It is a place of quiet reflection and brutal honesty. The sincerity and dignity of the lion surrounded by the peace and tranquility of the pool and the greenery, as if the lion is looking out into the utopia he is about to cross over into in the afterlife.

I wholeheartedly love walking around Lake Lucerne, it is a gorgeous and sprawling lake, and in the distance, it looks as if it were glass it shines and reflects so brightly. You can’t see the ending it is so vast, it appears as if the Alps just jut out from the lake. They have cute little paddleboats you can rent and take out, which is great way to get out in the middle of the lake and get a majestic panoramic view of the Alps, the city and the lake all living together in perfect harmony. The panoramic views throughout his city are incredible and uplifting. The stone walkways around the lake are lined by gorgeous hotels and resorts. The floral arrangements and gardens are spectacular as well. The bright floral hues play so well with the glassy lake. Trees offer shade to the leisurely strollers and it also creates a very peaceful ambiance; you hardly remember you’re actually in a city.

Lucerne is designed so lovingly to help its visitors and residence feel a sense of peace and serenity. The vibe of the city seems to want to uplift the spirits and hearts of all that pass through. Never to overwhelm or cause anxiety, but to lift one’s energy to a state of blissfulness. I love this city because it is blissful. The hues and tints throughout this city are mostly pastels and light colors. You will enjoy the saturated and vivacious blues and greens from the water and the brilliant purple of the Alps and you will also notice the pleasant and warm pastel tones of the pinks, peaches, yellows, light blues and mint greens etc. throughout the architecture, statues and fountains. Lucerne bursts with color and enjoyable details! The bright, saturated hues of the natural scenery is made even more striking by the pastels and the lighter, yet still lively, tones of the city itself. But even with the wide array of colors you will see, it’s tastefully and modestly done. To me, it was as if this was done intentionally, as a way for the city to not upstage or steal the spotlight from the natural beauty of the lake, river, lush greenery, vibrant flora and mountains- but to enhance it! Because the city takes on a lighter and warmer color palette mostly, it allows the natural scenery to really standout and be the main attraction. The city enhances and makes the natural setting look even more spectacular. The city wants you to take a look and admire those Alps, that lake, those flowers in the garden, that aqua colored river! The city emphasizes the natural setting rather than overpowering it and distracting you from it. That’s what I love about this city’s aesthetic: the mountains and lakes feel like they ARE the city and are truly a part of it rather than something in the distance or background, it is the main ground. I love how all the colors throughout the city harmonize together- from the natural to the man-made colors.

Every building has its own color palette often quite different than its neighbor’s and yet it doesn’t clash at all, they strike a perfect balance and harmony with each other. You can have a yellow row home with red shutters next to a sage-green colored row home with orange details and together they look made for each other rather than competing. Many of the buildings are lovingly decorated with flower boxes (the Swiss love flower boxes) and also have their own unique murals on the facade. As I’ve stated in previous posts, throughout the German speaking countries, you will often see fine-looking murals on buildings (from fairytales to flowers to historical scenes). The murals on the buildings tell stories which I loved interpreting and enjoying. They may tell the history of the city or the family that lived there or they may just be meant to please and beautify the city. I enjoyed so many wonderful stories walking throughout this city. It’s as if Lucerne is a fairytale book, filled with different tales and stories affectionately painted all throughout. The buildings are the beautiful illustrations, and you, the spectator, fill in the words to make it your own story. Lucerne feels very storybook like but not in a kitschy or extravagant way. It is quite spectacular to ponder all the fun details throughout the city, almost like a game of iSpy, what can you find? Lucerne will not fail to impress or inspire.

Everything comes together so perfectly in this city- the lake, river, Alps, flowers, lush trees, beautiful architecture- it all compliments each other. I find Lucerne the most harmonious and blissful city I’ve visited. The history there is fantastic, the aesthetics are enriching and the vibe so peaceful. This city lights a spark in your heart that keeps glowing brightly even after you leave. When I think of Lucerne, I feel a bright light in my heart still. Memories take me back to a state of peace and ease, of real happiness and delight. The city of Lucerne resonates with me and my natural energy, as well as who I aim to be as a person. A person of balance, harmony, peace, bliss, joy, contentedness, fulfillment, gratitude and authenticity. The city reflects these attributes throughout, or at least for me it did, from the aesthetic, to the people, the pace of life, to the activities, to the natural scenery and the overall energy. It’s probably why I love this city so much; it represents the good life. Lucerne is filled with an ease and is centered on an “enjoy life” atmosphere, stop and smell the roses if you will. The energy and pace of Lucerne, I feel, is the natural pace of life that we should all live by. It’s productive, motivated and optimistic yet also relaxed, serene and satisfied with life. BLISS! And isn’t that what we all should be chasing- bliss?! Peace and happiness coming together. Lucerne has a grasp on the secret to living a good life and being happy- you can just feel it in the streets, on the walkways, in the buildings, in the cafes and parks. It’s there throughout and it is inspiring. Here is a city that uplifts the heart and soul and reminds us true beauty and joy comes from a simpler, relaxed attitude towards living and an appreciation of living in the moment.

I recommend you check out and walk around the shopping district in old town, between Schwanenplatz (on the lake) and Muehlenplatz. There is a shopping district in the new town, but I typically prefer the historical side of the city. Not only are there a vast variety of shops but the area is gorgeous, and the architecture is brilliant. I enjoy it more for the sightseeing and people watching than anything else. One of my favorite activities was sitting outside of a cute restaurant, enjoying a glass of white wine and watching the activity, just taking it in fully. When it comes to Lucerne, I highly recommend just meandering around the lake and the old/historic side of town. This is where you get immersed in the real culture and character of Lucerne, these back stone roads with the romantic homes, hotels and buildings are where the character of Lucerne shines through best. You really appreciate the romantic and historic vibe of the city this way. The new town does hold its charm but not as well as the old town (that’s a general rule of thumb I find in European travel- visit the historic parts). The historic areas are where you really get a feel for the city you are in and gain a deeper understanding of a city’s character and story. You gain appreciation in these areas of town for the culture and the people. Lucerne is not at all short on charm and character and it has a fantastic and intriguing story to tell its visitors.

Speaking of which, one of the best ways to get in touch and get acquainted with Swiss culture was by attending a Swiss Folklore Dinner. We visited one such dinner in Lucerne! The dinner was all about celebrating Swiss culture and heritage! It served up a fabulous, quintessential Alpine feast with a lively, boisterous show complete with energetic music, vigorous dancing, yodeling (because of course) and colorful, fun costumes. They also engaged a lot with the audience, so don’t be surprised if you are grabbed (gently of course) from your table to be asked to join in a playful prance around the room, to play Schnapps bottles (think Swiss xylophone), try your hand at yodeling or join a partner for traditional Swiss folk dancing. I got chosen to take part in a traditional Swiss folk dance, it was so fun. Throughout the meal you get the clear impression the Swiss don’t take themselves too seriously, they enjoy and embrace their quirks and what makes them uniquely Swiss! They like to have fun and be silly! I mean, what kind of culture turns a broom, a Schnapps bottle or a bell into a full-blown musical instrument?! A people that has to be silly and fun, that’s who. No doubt, they were stuck in their chalets in the winter, drank up all the schnapps and decided, hey, let’s make music with this! They even used wooden planks by clanking them together and brooms to make such exuberant music (that’s Swiss innovation right there!). The Swiss have a knack for taking the simplest of devices and using it for a greater purpose! Efficient and innovative people! The music was giddy and just instantly filled the room with joy. You couldn’t help but laugh until your stomach hurt. The dancing was actually pretty complex in many ways but was super exciting and entertaining. Listening to people attmeptingg to play music and yodel, always a crowd pleaser! We learned, yodeling is quite difficult, not many people have that type of range to hit those notes. Yodeling is actually quite beautiful and intriguing, and so Swiss! It was just all around Swiss merry making! A total blast! The food was divine, your typical Swiss fare. We started with a delicious cheese fondue (because, hello, the Swiss have the BEST cheese due to their cows eating Alpine grasses) and excellent bread to dip it in. There, of course, was plenty of beer and wine flowing. I had a fantastic cut of beef with potatoes as my meal. Yes, the Swiss and Germans are meat and potatoes people, but can you really go wrong with that, it’s classic and delicious! Dessert was a variety of Swiss pastries. The Germans and Swiss have excellent pastries! Their cakes, pies and such are rich and flavorful! And of course, there was chocolate, lots of Swiss chocolate to savor!

At one point 2 people in a large cow costume (one in the front, another in the rear) came out to delight the whole crowd. The cow was engaging spiritedly with guests in humorous and playful ways. The whole show was merry and playful from food to music, to dancing and yodeling, to people in funny costumes and games being played. The actors had authentic dirndls (for the women) and lederhosen (for the men) and they worse fantastic Alpine headwear (those woolen hats with pins and often accompanied with a feather). All the costumes were beautiful colors and handsomely embroidered with flowers and edelweiss. Lots of red filled the room, as this is the color of the Swiss flag, as well as vibrant blues, bright yellows, vivid greens and so on. The Swiss love to utilize color to invoke emotion, typically positive and joyful emotions. From walking the streets to the dinner show it is clear the Swiss are multi-faceted. They are a peaceful, relaxed, sit-back-and-enjoy people with a playful, goofy and delightful side that makes this country so endearing to all who visit. And yet they are also a very punctual, hardworking, structured and tidy people so you could see this makes them the epitome of “work hard play hard”, which is typical in your Germanic countries. The Swiss are unpretentious and embrace their eccentricities that make them different than all other Europeans. They appreciate who they are as a people and they love the land they live on; they adore their mountains and lakes. There is nothing better than asking a Swiss person about their country, their eyes swell up with adoration and pride talking about their beloved homeland. They’ll tell you all about each mountain peak, every lake and river, every valley, they’ll talk about how the flora and fauna changes with the elevation. They love to introduce outsiders to the beauty and wonder their country holds. Their passion for their story, their love of the land, appreciation for their heritage and their wonderful charm and character makes the Swiss such a loveable and enjoyable people to be around and their charms make Switzerland such a wonderful place to explore and enjoy! The reason the energy of Switzerland is so fantastic isn’t just the beautiful mountains views and sweeping valleys, their mesmerizing lakes or their divine landscapes and cities- it’s also because of the Swiss people. They exude a wonderful, pleasant energy of amity, tranquility, contentment, joyfulness, authenticity and a deep, true love of life. From the natural beauty, to the endearing story of the Swiss people and their culture, to the splendor of their old-world meets new-world cities and towns- Switzerland is truly a treasure that will lighten your heart and spirit and never leave you. And the city of Lucerne is one of the crown jewels of this fascinating country! It’s a city that still encompasses the Swiss spirit away from the quintessential Swiss chalet up in the heights of the mighty mountains.

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