Originally built as part of the city’s fortifications back in the 14th century (at a time when god knows they were needed) to aid in the movement of troops and goods, the Chapel Bridge or Kapellbrüke – known as Lucerne’s Landmark, is considered to be Europe’s oldest covered bridge. The 17th century saw pictorial panels incorporated in it which depict scenes of Switzerland’s history as well as Lucerne’s.
Built initially as part of the ramparts of the oldest medieval city Lucerne, the Chapel Bridge and Water Tower now mark the high point of this medieval bridgehead city, where Lake Lucerne’s waters flow into River Reuss. Once descending directly into St. Peter’s Chapel, the Northern bridgehead of Chapel Bridge is now separated from it by a riverside promenade.
Fun(read, disgusting) fact: The Water Tower also served as a dungeon, an archive, and a treasury simultaneously till the 19th century. However, it is used as a club room by a traditional association today- for which reason it remains inaccessible to the general public.
The Chapel Bridge used to have an extension leading to Hofkirche, the oldest church of Lucerne associated to a Benedictine monastery, but it was replaced by the lakeside avenue and promenade (Schweizerhofquai) in 1834.
The fire of The Chapel Bridge (August 18th, 1993)
At midnight on the night of August 18th, 1993, a fire was sparked and resulted in the destruction of about two-thirds of the Chapel Bridge. Only its pillars, bridgeheads, and the Water Tower could be salvaged. However, the following year saw the Chapel Bridge almost completely restored.
The fire broke out in August at a late hour. An alarmed tourist alerted the fire brigade that a boat under the bridge and the bridge itself were burning. Later analysis showed that the fire broke out on the bridge itself (perhaps due to a cigarette) and encroached upon the boat from there. Nevertheless, in the wake of the fire, no more boats were allowed to park under the bridge.
Due to the fact that Chapel Bridge was made up of hefty wood, large parts of it were fully ablaze when help arrived. At 1:15 am the fire was under control, but a further eleven hours were needed to extinguish the last hidden pockets of embers.
Eighty-five of the over a hundred pictures under the roof, dating back to 1611, were destroyed by the 1993 fire, only 25 or so could be saved or restored. Yet others have been replaced by pictures from the second part of the bridge that had been safely stored since 1834. A few burnt panels are still in place as a reminder of the fire. During the carnival season, the ancient pictures are replaced by modern ones depicting carnival motifs, providing a platform to showcase the creativity of today's population and in the same breath giving protection to the original pictures from thoughtless attacks by fun materials like paint and glibber bombs used during carnival days.
Timings are subject to change. You will be automatically booked into a time slot as part of the check out process. Please visit the official website to confirm the time slot before your visit.
Known by the locals as Altstadt, The Old Town of Lucerne is a pretty little place to stroll around. It sits comfortably across the Chapel Bridge from the new part of the town and has a charm about it that’ll make you simply fall in love with the little things. One of its more striking features is the buildings, oozing of old-world charm with their ornate decorations and multicolored murals, a trend to be observed all across town. The boulevard located between the Chapel Bridge and the City Hall is a place brimming with the hum of life, a strip along the river Reuss filled with restaurants and an amazing view of the river.
St. Peter's Chapel-
This is where the Chapel Bridge gets its name from. This is right next to the bridge in the Old Town in Lucerne, Switzerland, and has stood there for several centuries now. Made mainly of marble, this is Baroque style chapel and a charming one at that. The exterior walls of the church have some interesting pieces of art that an art aficionado in you would truly appreciate. An alabaster carving of the Mount of Olives, the fresco of Brother Klaus which dates back to the late 19th century, and also a painting of St. Christopher from the early 20th century is what covers the exterior of this chapel. This background also provides for some great pictures; memories that you can take back home. You could also pray in complete peace in this cute little church.
Old Town Towers-
The Lucerne wall and its nine towers stand tall in the Old Town and quite close to the Chapel Bridge. Out of the nine, only four are open to the public, in the months of April through November. The Musegg Wall and Männli, Zyt, Wacht, and Schirmer Towers, offer a fascinating view of the charming city, along with River Seuss and its bay area. It is truly a sight to behold.
But, what is interesting about these nine towers is the fact that each one is unique from the other, in the way it was or is used. While two of the towers were used to store gunpowder in the olden days, some of the towers are used by various guilds these days.
One of the most interesting towers is the Zyt Tower, which houses an exhibition of historic clocks, starting from the late Middle Ages to the 20th century. These were the clocks that were actually made in this city and there are charts, which explain how these clocks evolved over the years. The facts and the exhibitions itself is so fascinating! One of the other towers, the Luegisland Tower, served as a watchtower at one point in time. Even now, you can see a weathercock pointing left to right, high on the roof and it is the tallest among all the towers.
Just five minutes from the Chapel Bridge is yet another bridge called the Spreuer Bridge. This is where you will see the last of these kinds of dams called the needle dam. It is a fascinating work of engineering and you will be glad that you actually did not miss out on this. The dam was built between 1859 and 1861 and is also known as Reuss Weir. Believe it or not, but the water level in the city is still regulated by the removal or insertion of these timber needles, which is what holds the dam together, and all this is done manually.
It is a cultural monument of sorts in this part of the town and you can see it in all its glory when you stand on the Chapel Bridge itself. But, the town hall is definitely worth a visit. It was built between 1602 and 1606 by an Italian architect by the name of Anton Isenmann and that is why it is constructed with the look and feel of the Italian Renaissance. What was once a trading hall, is now used for exhibitions and concerts. The coffered ceiling, the paintings and just about everything about this place is so gorgeous and takes you back to the Renaissance period of grandeur and rich art forms. A part of the town hall is also used for weddings now, as the registry is located there too. The most interesting part lies in the attic, which is the dovecote, where the doves are bred. This is open to the public, where from a distance, you can observe this gentle bird going about its daily routine. There is also an exhibition, which throws focus on these birds; their behavior and history.