Souvenirs from Switzerland, Lucerne
Situated in the picturesque Lucerne, one of the biggest cities in central Switzerland, the Chapel Bridge and Water Tower (Kapellbrücke und Wasserturm in original German) are two of the city’s landmarks and country’s best known symbols. Built in discrete Swiss fashion with splendid medieval details, the Chapel Bridge represents the oldest covered wooden bridge in the world. It also functions as a beautiful natural border across Reuss river and delimitates the Old Town with its charming cobbled streets and medieval architecture from the New Town of modern buildings. Walk across the Bridge towards the treasures of a controversial past such as the Water Tower and admire the silent beauty of Reuss river’s swans as they complement the magical elegance of the two landmarks. A resin fridge magnet souvenir available now online is a beautiful reminder of Lucerne’s old fashioned beauty.
The Chapel Bridge, a Walkway Across History
The Bridge and Water Tower were part of the old fortification system of the city and date back to the 14th century. The Chapel Bridge was named after the neighboring St. Peter's Chapel and its elegant wooden shape has been reflecting in the water of the Reuss river since its construction in 1332. Its building houses original 17th century paintings most of which have unfortunately been destroyed during a 1993 fire. The Bridge structure includes the old octagonal Water Tower which served as a prison during the Middle Ages, torture room and even the city’s archive warehouse. In 1860, a dam was built to control the level of the river water and initially the Chapel Bridge was leading to Hofkirche, an old Benedictine church from Lucerne’s Old City up until a modern promenade was added in the 19th century. In August 1993, a fire destroyed most of the Chapel Bridge leaving Water Tower surprisingly intact; the construction was restored in less than a year.
The Chapel Bridge Paintings, a Story of Lucerne
What makes Lucerne unique is its three pedestrian bridges (14th century Hofbruecke, Kapellbruecke and the 16th century Spreuerbruecke) which display paintings inside their interiors unlike any other wooden bridge in Europe. The paintings from the Chapel Bridge were created by artist Hans Heinrich Wägmann, and present 158 different scenes from the main events which shaped Lucerne’s history. Only 30 paintings out of the total 47 to survive the 1993 fire were restored. Framed by linden and maple wood, the paintings were commissioned by the Catholic Church in Lucerne to promote its institution in a period of Swiss Counter-Reform and they were funded by the City Council. A written explanation is given below each image detailing scenes ranging from legendary Saint Leger, the patron of Lucerne to Saint Maurice, another protector of the City.
Lucerne’s Catholic Heritage
Lucerne played a significant role throughout the centuries in the creation and development of the Swiss confederacy and its strong Catholic heritage suggested by the Chapel Bridge and Water Tower has nevertheless shaped its Middle Ages history. Economically developed and politically powerful, the city of Lucerne was attractive; after the breaking up of the Confederacy following the 1520 Reformation, Lucerne remained Catholic even if most cities embraced Protestantism. In 1531after the successful military campaign of Catholic armies in the Kappel Battle, Catholic cities dominated the administration. It was a time of powerful ideological propaganda as illustrated in the paintings displayed inside the Chapel Bridge interiors. In 1712, the Protestant cities such as Zurich and Basel defeated the Catholics in the Villmerg War and Lucerne’s influence was lost.