It poured rain overnight in Basel and was still raining the next morning. We wanted to take a day trip to Lucerne or Luzern where the forecast looked a little less wet.
The direct train trip is barely more than an hour.
The train station is right in the historic centre.
Cynthia Toole, the guide who toured us through Zürich, has audio guides for other cities including Luzern. The audio guide is through an app called Voice Map. The guide uses GPS so it can tell when you are at the point where there is something to say about what you are seeing.
The concept is brilliant as you don’t need to be reading something but can be looking at what is of interest instead of reading a piece of paper. Even better, you can put your phone in your pocket and walk. You don’t need to start and stop the commentary as it knows when you by the relevant sight.
Luzern has a population of 82,000 and the historic centre is compact. We picked up a guide from the tourist information office. The train station is in the lower right hand corner of the map. We did not get to all the red squares but we did most of them using the audio guide. It took a bit over an hour, not including pauses, and we walked less than 2 kilometres.
The tour started just out front of the train station.
The oldest church in the city is the one with the two spires on the right side of the photo. It held the meeting where the various city republics decided to form a confederation.
The water tower and covered Chapel Bridge are the most iconic sights of Luzern.
More than half of the bridge burnt down in the 1990s and had to be rebuilt. The paintings under the roof that burned were not replaced so only few remain. They showed patron saints and historic figures.
The bridge is called Chapel Bridge because it leads to St. Peter’s Chapel.
Lots of fountains, as in other cities, providing free drinking water. This one celebrates Mardi Gras, which is a big festival in Luzern.
Above is the clock tower which is next to the Rathaus or city hall.
Wine guild building in the wine square. Below, the fountain in the square. This one of St. Moritz, like the Swiss town.
On the top of the hill in the above photo is what is now a hotel. You used to have to hike up to it. Now there is a funicular. Below it is the second covered bridge. Much shorter and where grain was milled into wheat and delivered to bakeries.
This is also the area where Lake Lucerne drains into the Reuss River. It’s controlled by a system of wooden stakes called the Needle Dam because the wood looks like needles. It’s old but it works.
Above is the Wildemann Fountain or Wild Man, referring to a legend about a wild man who emerged from the waters. The guy climbing the fountain was cleaning it.
Above, the first Renaissance building north of Italy. The owner never saw its completion supposedly because he was cursed by the architect after they got into a fight. It’s now part of the Jesuit college.
The Jesuit church based on Il Gesú in Rome. It’s very Baroque, especially the interior.
Luzern was one of the few cantons in Switzerland that remained Catholic after the Reformation.
A 3-D depiction of Luzern:
For lunch across on the other side of the river, we were able to sit outside. We haven’t done this since Geneva.
We tried the local specialties, a veal ragout in vol au vent and house made pork sausage.
Not part of the audio guide but recommended in it was the Rosengart Collection. A father and daughter art dealership set up this collection of their private art works that they said they did not collect other than as works they personally liked. They were friends with Picasso. The daughter was a model for him. And were also friends with Chagall.
The collection is very strong in late 19th century early 20th century works of Picasso and Klee as well as others in the same time frame.
Some works I liked, not necessarily typical
Partly to sit down but also to learn more about the collection, we watched a video explaining the creation of the building and foundation of this collection. It’s an amazing collection for such a small place as it seems strongly representative of a particular era of modern art.
After a bit of chocolate shopping, we returned to Basel.
For dinner we did not follow a recommendation from our daughter-in-law (because we had tried them all) but tried Rubino, described as Mediterranean and located near the Kunstmuseum.
They offered a fixed menu with some small choices and we opted for the wine pairings.
This was paired with a Gruner Veltliner than I did not photograph
This was an unexpected surprise, pleasantly so. We could not manage another course.
As a successful end to our day, we managed the tram back to the hotel.