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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Luzern, Switzerland

I always enjoy the train ride from Interlaken to Luzern. The lakes from Lungern, on the eastern shore of the Lake of Lungern and at the foot of the Brünig Pass, to Sarnen, on the shore of Lake Sarnen, are green in color. I enjoy looking at the reflections of the hillsides and houses in the green water. that are made from the morning light. Fishermen in boats as well as on shore are out in large numbers.

I can see the bottom of the lake as the water is so very clear.

The village of Lungern is the highest village of the Sarneraa-Valley, and is situated in a basin that is open only to the north and is surrounded on all other sides by steep and woody inclinations and rocks. The town of Sarnen is surrounded by mountain chains and a protected bog can be found nearby. The most well-known mountain close to Sarnen is Mount Pilatus with an elevation of 6,995 feet (2,132 meters).

Luzern is the gateway to central Switzerland. It is situated on Lake Luzern. Since there are so many attractions to see and it has many shopping stores with Swiss souvenirs and watches, etc., the town is definitely a destination for tour groups wanting to see and get a feel of Switzerland.

This time of year, hot roasted chestnuts are sold at little stands placed around the town. The chestnuts are piping hot and oh so delicious.

The hot nuts are placed in a cone shaped bag, a tute.

Some of the notable Luzern attractions to see are:

Chapel Bridge, Kapellbrücke

The Chapel Bridge, Kapellbrücke, is a covered wooden footbridge spanning diagonally across the Reuss. It is named after the nearby St. Peter's Chapel.

The bridge is unique as it contains a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century. The Kapellbrücke almost burned down on August 18, 1993, destroying two thirds of its interior paintings. Shortly thereafter, the Kapellbrücke was reconstructed and again opened to the public on April 14, 1994 for a total of CHF 3.4 million.

Subsequently restored, the Kapellbrücke is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, as well as the world's oldest surviving truss bridge It serves as the city's symbol and as one of Switzerland's main tourist attractions.

The bridge itself was originally built around 1365 as part of Luzern's fortifications. It linked the old town on the right bank of the Reuss to the new town on the left bank, securing the town from attack from the south. The bridge initially had a length of over 890 feet (270 meters), although due to numerous shortenings throughout the years, the bridge now totals only 672 feet (204.7 meters) in length. It is the oldest surviving truss bridge in the world, consisting of strutted and triangulated trusses of moderate span, supported on piled trestles.

Luzern is unique in the fact that its three wooden pedestrian bridges, the 14th century Hofbrücke (now destroyed) and Kapellbrücke and the 16th century Spreuerbrücke, all featured painted interior triangular frames. This feature is not replicated in any of Europe's other wooden footbridges. The paintings, dating back to the 17th century by local Catholic painter Hans Heinrich Wägmann, depict events from Luzern's history. Out of the original 158 paintings, a total of 147 existed before the 1993 fire. After the fire, the remains of 47 paintings were collected, although only 30 were ultimately fully restored.

The wooden boards upon which the paintings were painted on were from 59 inches (150 centimeters) to 71 inches (181 centimeters) wide and 33 inches (85 centimeters) to 37 inches (95 centimeters) wide. Most of the panels were made from spruce wood boards, while only a few were made from linden wood and maple. The paintings were created during the time of the Counter-Reformation, featuring scenes promoting the Catholic Church. The paintings themselves were sponsored by the city's council members, who upon sponsoring a panel, were allowed to attribute their personal coat of arms on it. An explanation of each painting was printed below each scene. The paintings ran all along the bridge, dating from the life and death of Luzern's patron saint St.Leger to the legends of the city's other patron saint St. Maurice.

Planters of flowers adorn the sides of the bridge. Usually, the type of flower and the flower colors are more vibrant. They are usually red begonias, red and pink hanging geraniums and/or yellow daisies. The colors would pop out against the bridge. This year, you have to pay closer attention to the flowers. The ivy is trailing so long. It is so healthy! There are so many shades of green. The "chicken plants or "spider plants" have trailing babies. The light green of the tobacco plant really stands out, though, among the darker ivy plants.

As part of the bridge complex, the Kapellbrücke includes the octagonal 113 foot (34.5 meter) Wasserturm, which literally translates to "water tower". The Wasserturm was built around 1300 as part of the the city's fortifications. However, the tower is not a water tower in the usual sense, but the name comes from the fact that the tower is standing in the water. The tower predated the bridge by about 30 years. Throughout the centuries, the tower was used as an archive, a treasury, a prison, torture chamber, and later a municipal archive. Today, the tower is closed to the public, although it houses a local artillery association.

Jesuit Church, Jesuitenkirche

The Jesuitenkirche, Jesuit Church, is the first large Baroque building of an ecclesiastical nature to be erected in Switzerland. The church was constructed in 1666 by Father Chistoph Vogler for the Jesuits.

The vault was redecorated in the mid-18th century. The original vestments of Brother Klaus, a famous Swiss patron, are stored in the inner chapel.

The dome was newly embellished in the mid 18th century.

Also worth noting are the acoustics of the church's magnificent interior.While we were there an organist was practicing. There were risers by the altar so I assume they will be having so type of concert in the church.

In fact, the organists were practicing in all the churches we visited.

I lit candles. The candles can be refilled with oil and reused. They do charge 1 CHF more than the other churches that still use a votive cup with wax.

Needle Dam, Nadelwehr

The Needle Dam, a unique attraction, was installed in 1859- 1860 after an ingenious design developed by Poirée. The water level of Lake Luzern is still regulated manually by the removal or insertion of its timber "needles".

Spreuer Bridge, Spreuerbrücke

The Spreuer Bridge is the oldest timber bridge in Switzerland. It was complete in 1408 as part of the city's fortifications.

A small chapel is constructed halfway down the bridge.

There are always fresh flowers on the altar.

It features 67 paintings depicting a Dance Macabre added between 1626 and 1635. This was the only place that chaff from cereals (Spreu) and foliage could be dumped in the river. Hence the name of Spreuerbrücke- Chaff Bridge.

Musegg Wall, Museggmauer

The Musegg Wall with its nine towers forms part of Luzern's historic fortifications. The clock on the Zyt Tower dates from 1535 and is the town's oldest. It has the priviledge of chiming the hours one minute before all the other clocks in town.

Old Town Square, Altstadplätze

The Old Town features picturesque squares flanked by buildings bearing historical frescoes.

Hof Church, Hofkirche

What the people of Luzern call the Hofkirche was originally Romanesque in conception. The church is dedicated to the patron saint Leodegar. It is today Luzern's collegiate and parish church.

The entrance doors are wood carved.

Satan is being banished.

The main altar

Mary's altar with a relief panel dating from 1500.

The soul's altar

The organ with angel wings.

You are allowed at the side altar to pray and read the lesson of the day.

The Old Swiss House, because of its handsome, wood partitioned exterior facade, is one of the most photographed attractions in the area.

It was named Old Swiss House in honor of Queen Victoria in 1868 when she declared Luzern to be the most charming city she had ever visited.

During World War II, Henri Guisan, the only General neutrao; Switzerland ever had, frequently convened secret strategy meetings at the Old Swiss House.

The Old Swiss House, built in 1859, is located near the Lion Monument, in the very center of the City of Luzern. Its handsome half-timbered façade makes it one of the most photographed attractions of the area. It is truly a landmark of Luzern.

The second floor of the Old Swiss House served as living quarters for the Buholzer family until 1967. Since then, the upstairs has been turned into traditional banqueting rooms for private parties and family gatherings. Most of the interior decorations date back to the 17th century. The establishment’s antique glassware, hand-carved wall panels, solid oak doors with carved inlays, genuine Sheffield silverware and items of old pewter are much admired by our guests. The stained-glass windows sporting heraldic panes date back to 1575. The many beautiful oil paintings throughout the premises are all originals by famous artists. The establishment’s pride-and-joy, however, is a craftsman-built, porcelain-tiled stove, dated 1636 and initialled by Daniel Pfau.

The Old Swiss House ranks as one of Switzerland’s outstanding and most attractive restaurants. The service staff are dressed in original Luzern costumes and are eager to turn your visit into an unforgettable experience.

The Buholzer family has one of Switzerland’s most remarkable wine cellars. It is stocked with 40,000 or so bottles of some of the rarest vintage wines, including a unique collection, starting in 1867, of Château Mouton Rothschild which is on display near the entrance to the Old Swiss House.

Of course we had the house specailty, the weinerschnitzel.

This is the Swiss House description.

"A deluxe wienerschnitzel as you have never tasted before! Very tender cutlets of veal are dipped in our own top-secret blend of beaten egg, Swiss cheese and herbs. The cutlet is then coated in specially prepared breadcrumbs and cooked in pure butter at your table. We serve our delicious wienerschnitzel with half a lemon and fresh egg noodles.

We have been serving this specialty for more than fifty years; with up to one thousand servings per month, it remains our most popular dish!"

The recipe…

  • 150 grams of best-quality veal, pounded till very tender

  • Five lightly beaten eggs, 50 grams grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper

  • Homemade breadcrumbs

  • A generous quantity of butter, 80 grams per person (our waitress, whom was from a small town near Cologne, Germany, said it was way more)

  • Half a lemon

  • Serve with: fine homemade egg noodles garnished with roasted breadcrumbs

It must be a copper pan to distribute the heat evenly.

This is a wonderful Swiss wine that goes so well with the weinerschnitzel.

For dessert, we had the lemon sorbet with vodka and prosecco. They also placed a frozen grape that had been soaked with prosecco, a pirouette biscuit, a tiny piece of dark chocolate. and a sprig of mint. Wonderful!!!!

The Old Swiss House is built adjacent to the Lion Monument

1931 The Buholzer family purchases the Old Swiss House and transforms it into a restaurant

1951 - 1952

Mr. August A. Busch, President and CEO of Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewery, met Trudy Buholzer, sister-in-law of Hanny Buholzer, while dining at the Old Swiss House. They were married a year later and went on to have seven children. The ties between the Busch and the Buholzer families remain close, especially since Hanny’s oldest son, Willy Buholzer, is responsible for the procurement of all of Anheuser-Busch’s imported hops.

1961 Willy and Hanny Buholzer, representing the second generation, take on the running of the Old Swiss House

1998 Philipp Buholzer steps into his parents’ shoes. Philipp is now running the Old Swiss House as the fourth generation of the Buholzer family, thus ensuring that the family tradition of excellent cuisine and friendly service continues into the foreseeable future.


Oliver Vaglio started his career at the Old Swiss House in 1998 as an apprentice in the kitchen. He then worked 30 years in his family restaurants before returning to the Old Swiss House as a managing director in 2014.

The Lion Monument- The dying Lion of Luzern- Löwendenkmal

The sculptor wanted more money for his work but they didn't want to pay. So.... he said he would turn their lion into a pig. Can you see it?

If you look closely, you can see the outline of a pig around the lion. On the left is the snout and ear and you can even see the tail on the right side.

The Lion Monument (German: Löwendenkmal), or the Lion of Luzern, is a rock relief . Captain Carl Pfyffer von Altishofen commissioned the Lion Monument which, in turn, was designed by the Danish classicist sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen while in Rome in 1819. Lucas Ahorn, a stone-mason from Constance in modern day Germany, carved the sculpture out of the limestone cliff face in 1820 and 1821. It commemorates the Swiss Guards whom were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris on August 10, 1792. Others were guillotined on the 2nd and 3rd of September 1792. The guards were serving the French King, Louis XVI.

At the time of the French Revolution, Swiss Mercenaries, along with agriculture and town-crafts, were an important and gainful trade during the Ancient Regime as a whole with as many as 40,000 serving under foreign banners when the French Revolution started in 1789.

Carved directly into the wall of a former sandstone quarry, the lion statue sees the regal beast dying from a spear wound which is marked by a shield bearing the mark of the French monarchy. The remarkably large monument was etched from the stone in 1820 and measures a remarkable ten meters in length and six meters in height. Above the mournful lion is the inscription, “HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI,” which is Latin for “To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss,” and below the lion’s niche is a list of some of the deceased officers’ names.

The Monument was inaugurated on August 10, 1821 and was purchased by the town of Luzern in 1882.

This is the first time in many years that we have seen the mountains around Luzern snow capped at this time of year.

As we went into the train station, I wondered if we were still in Luzern or in Munich at Octoberfest which continues until October 3rd.

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