The wooden bridges of Lucerne
Lucerne (or “Luzern” in German) is the largest city in Central Switzerland and lies on the western shore of Lake Lucerne. Although it started as a small fishing village, it grew into an important staging and commercial point when the St. Gotthard Pass was opened in 1220 and became a vital trade route between Northern and Southern Europe. At the same time, due to its location on the shores of the lake and its outflow, the River Reuss, within sight of the Swiss Alps, Lucerne has long been a tourist destination. Since the 19th century, tourism has underpinned Luzern’s economy.
The mediaeval Old Town (Altstadt) lies on the north bank of the River Reuss. In the Middle Ages, the town was defended by ramparts on its northern side and by bridges on its eastern side. The Old Town’s layout survives to this day, and the facades of its wonderful historic houses, especially around Hirschenplatz and Weinmarkt, are painted with frescoes and sgraffito decoration. The historic centre is also a lively urban area with plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes. But the main attraction of the Old Town and the symbol of the city are its two wooden bridges, especially the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrucke).