As someone deeply passionate about old-world architecture, history, and places with beautiful natural scenery, I have all the reasons to love Lucerne—a city with a picturesque medieval center that sits right at the shores of its lake in the Alps. Its old-world charm and lake+mountain scenic views mix perfectly together, giving one unique city experience like no other.
Although it may feel more exciting to go to the mountains and see stunning views, visiting Lucerne’s landmarks can also be fascinating! You don’t believe me? In this post, I’ll also show you why.
I’ll discuss the architectural sites and landmarks in Lucerne I think are the most beautiful. I’ll introduce them, tell you their exact location, and share tips you may need when you visit them.
The landmarks I will share with you aren’t just landmarks. Some of them are the best tourist attractions in Lucerne. Others are buildings with stunning interiors, places with historical and cultural significance, or architectural masterpieces.
And if you are looking for free things to do in Lucerne or places where you can take beautiful photos, this is your lucky day. Because almost all tourist attractions in Lucerne mentioned here are picturesque and, most importantly, are free to visit!
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Are you looking for ways to visit Lucerne? Do you want to know how much time you must spend? My posts below can help. (Links open in a new tab)
1. Lucerne Station
Did you know you can already see a beautiful landmark in Lucerne upon arriving by train?
You should see it immediately after you emerge from the train station through the escalator. However, it will only be obvious that it’s a beautiful landmark after walking across it and seeing its northern facade.
What is this landmark called? It is Torbogen Luzern.
So, what is it all about? Torbogen Luzern, or Lucerne Archway, is the remnant of Lucerne’s magnificent late 19th-century railway station that was destroyed by fire in 1971. It used to be the main entrance to the old train station. Below, you can see how it appears on a clear, sunny day.
In photos, it may look small, but in actuality, it’s huge! I estimate it is more than 36 meters or 120 feet tall. I think its size and imposing neoclassical architecture are a “welcome message to every visitor,” saying: “There’s more to see in Lucerne! Explore the city and discover more beautiful places!”
I love its three beautiful keystones and reliefs embellishing the facade! With its gorgeousness, surely, it is one of the places in Lucerne to take selfies for photo souvenirs.
The most notable feature of Torbogen Luzern is the “Zeitgeist.” It is the sculpture on top of the arch, created by Richard Kissling.
I am unsure how Richard Kissling intended his sculpture to portray a message. But all I know is that the term Zeitgeist is a German word that translates to “the spirit of the times” or “the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.”
2. Chapel Bridge
Another reason why I like Lucerne as a tourist destination? Its famous landmarks and the city’s points of interest are only walking distance away from one another.
Do you want an example? Let’s say you’re currently in Lucerne Archway (train station)… Then, the Chapel Bridge, Lucerne’s most famous landmark, would only be less than 5 minutes away on foot. In fact, you can already spot the Chapel Bridge a few steps from Lucerne Archway!
Here’s what the Chapel Bridge looks like:
Specifically, the Chapel Bridge is the second bridge across the Reuss River after Seebrücke from Lake Lucerne. This bridge spans 204 meters (670 feet) diagonally across the Reuss River, connecting Bahnhofstrasse and Rathausquai.
Although the Chapel Bridge is really simple to find in Lucerne, it won’t be the reason why you won’t miss seeing it during your trip to Lucerne. I bet the Chapel Bridge will be your top priority, and definitely, you wouldn’t forget to visit it because:
- It is the most iconic landmark of Lucerne and a cultural treasure, dating back to the early 14th century.
- Chapel Bridge is the world’s oldest truss bridge!
- This bridge is also the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe.
- The chapel bridge is more than just a bridge, though. It’s like a gallery of the history of Lucerne, painted on the triangular masterpieces on the bridge’s roof trusses.
- Lastly, it’s ultimately picturesque, with a medieval tower called the Water Tower.
There are a lot of things that I’ve discovered about Chapel Bridge, and you must know them before you visit it.
Check my post about this famous bridge in Lucerne if you want more information about the Chapel Bridge (i.e., the best time to visit, the best time to take photos, and visiting information) and see what’s inside the Chapel Bridge.
The part of the Reuss River within Lucerne’s old city is a feast for the eye because of the beautiful buildings along its banks. I suggest going to Seebrücke for the most panoramic views of the old city and the Reuss River.
Once you’re in Seebrücke and start marveling at the skyline of old town Lucerne, a building to capture your attention is Lucerne’s Town Hall or Rathaus. Its clock tower dominates the view when looking at the right side of the river.
If you want to photograph Lucerne’s Rathaus or admire its architecture, I suggest going to Rathaussteg and Kornmarkt. Rathaussteg makes leading lines to Rathaus, which are so nice to photograph; In Kornmarkt, you’ll see the gorgeous facade of Rathaus and its tower.
Here’s what it looks like from these places:
Aside from the eye-catching, bell-shaped red roof and colorful clock of Lucerne’s Rathaus, you must also check out its elaborate door in renaissance style. You can find it in Kornmarkt, beside the base of the clock tower.
The door of the Rathaus is really beautiful.
It has two reliefs of lions that hold the coat of arms of Lucerne on top, intricate Corinthian columns, a well-crafted door, and a golden door knob that looks like a platypus. Based on the “1603” inscriptions on the door, I can say that Lucerne’s Rathaus was built in the early 1600s.
You can also find symbols on the door. I think the relief of the two women depicts justice (the one holding the sword and scales) and prosperity (the sculpture with a pail of water and a bowl).
4. Jesuit Church
Let’s say you are currently in Rathaussteg and you are having one of the loveliest strolls in Lucerne, taking photos of Rathaus. If you turn around, you’ll see another beautiful landmark—it’s called the Jesuit Church.
If you’re also an architecture enthusiast like me, your quest for the most intricate architectural masterpiece in Lucerne ends in the Jesuit Church. It’s not pretty much apparent from its facade and exteriors, but once you enter, you’ll agree!
Here’s what the Jesuit Church looks like outside and inside:
The interiors of the Jesuit Church emanate overwhelming elegance. It is a mix of baroque and rococo architecture, but the latter will take your breath away. The white, gold, and brown colors inside the church reflect heavenly grace you won’t regret seeing!
Comparing the Jesuit Church to the famous churches in Europe, it’s slightly outmatched. Nevertheless, the rococo stucco works of the Jesuit Church are a captivating spectacle—especially the ones on the eight chapels of the church.
I also have to mention the cycle of paintings on the ceiling of the Jesuit Church’s main hall. They beautifully connect the imposing altar and the ornate organ at the back of the church, telling stories about the parish’s patron saint, Saint Francis Xavier.
The Jesuit Church has lots of beautiful things you can appreciate! And it’s the reason why it is worth visiting. You can check my post, “Jesuit Church: Lucerne’s Architectural Gem,” to learn more.
I also discussed how you can visit the Jesuit Church and where you can photograph the church from that post.
5. Spreuer Bridge
If you walk west from the Jesuit Church through Reusssteg, you’ll arrive at the Spreuer Bridge in approximately 5 minutes. Like the Chapel Bridge, Spreuer Bridge is a covered wooden bridge unique to Lucerne.
Spreuer, or the Chaff bridge, is the shorter version of the Chapel Bridge; one of the three bridges that connect the two parts of the old city divided by the Reuss River. (The third bridge is called the Court Bridge, dismantled in the 19th century)
Here’s what the Spreuer Bridge looks like:
Aside from the water tower and length, the main difference between the Spreuer Bridge and the Chapel Bridge are the artworks under their roof. The paintings on the Spreuer Bridge form a Danse Macabre cycle, and the ones on the Chapel Bridge are mainly about the history of Lucerne and Switzerland.
According to my sources, the cycle of painting in the Spreuer Bridge is the largest known example of its kind. But wait, what’s Danse Macabre?
Danse Macabre, also known as the Dance of Death, is a medieval allegory represented in art, literature, and music. It is typically depicted as a skeleton or a personification of death leading a procession of people from all walks of life, including kings, popes, and peasants, to their graves.
The allegory is meant to remind people of the inevitability of death and the futility of earthly pursuits and social distinctions in the face of death.
Surely, it will also feel like you’re visiting a gallery as you stroll on the Spreuer Bridge because of these paintings. There’s a twist, though. You can also find a cute chapel in the middle of the Spreuer Bridge.
The small chapel, flanked by beautiful woodcraft, has a stained glass window with an artwork of Mary and figurines of some biblical characters. Perhaps, if you’re Catholic like me, you can spend a moment of prayer for a wish (more travels!).
If you are looking for a spot to photograph the Spreuer Bridge, go to the northern entrance of the bridge. You can photograph the bridge with the Hotel Château Gütsch in the background. It should look more beautiful at night because the buildings are illuminated—time to get creative!
6. Musegg Wall
From the Spreuer Bridge, you can spot another landmark in Lucerne looking west. This landmark is called the Musegg Wall. It’s Lucerne’s medieval city fortification, dating back to the 14th century.
For some, Musegg Wall is the hidden gem tourist attraction in Lucerne. No wonder why because of its location in the northernmost part of the old city. If you are currently on the Spreuer Bridge, you may need to walk for about seven minutes to reach the first tower of Musegg Wall.
This is what Musegg Wall looks like:
Indeed, like most medieval walls, Musegg Wall also has its towers. Originally, it had 10 towers, but now, only 9 remain.
You should visit Musegg Wall because it’s a great example of the Swiss Medieval fortification that still lasts today. Actually, it’s also the longest remaining intact wall in Switzerland. So, I really suggest you don’t miss it during your trip to Lucerne.
At the same time, I recommend not missing Musegg Wall because it’s the most accessible place (during non-winter months) to see some panoramic views of the old city, mountains, and Lake Lucerne. How? It’s by climbing its towers and walking in the ramparts.
For me, the best parts of Musegg Wall are Männliturm and Zytturm. You can climb both to see overlooking views of the city.
Männliturm is the only tower with a roof deck—it’s a nice place to observe the surroundings. On the other hand, Zytturm is the most elaborate because of its large mural and gigantic clock. You can come inside the Zytturm to see exhibits of different clock mechanisms.
If you want to learn more about Musegg Wall, you can read my article about Musegg Wall. There I listed 5 reasons why you should see the wall. You will also find ways to visit it and get an idea of how long you may need to spend on it.
Anyway, if you walk the entire length of Musegg Wall from Nölliturm (the tower beside River Reuss), you’ll end up on the northeastern side of Lucerne’s old city. It’s where you can see more landmarks in Lucerne, such as the Lion Monument and the Hofkirche or the Church of Saint Leodegar.
7. Lion Monument
For history lovers, the Lion Monument is the landmark you should set on high priority. As a memorial, it holds immense historical value one can discover in Lucerne.
In a nutshell, the Lion Monument, also known as the Lion of Lucerne, is a massive sculpture carved out of sandstone rock in the early 19th century. It depicts a lion lying on its side with a solemn expression on its face. Here’s what the lion sculpture in the Lion Monument looks like:
The Lion of Lucerne also is a memorial to the Swiss soldiers who died during the French Revolution. It offers a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by these brave soldiers.
With the appearance of the Lion and the message it holds, many consider it one of the most moving and powerful monuments in Switzerland. Even Mark Twain agrees with it in his book, “A Tramp Abroad.”
If you wonder how you can get to the Lion Monument from different places in Lucerne, check out my post about the Lion Monument. From that article, you can also get an idea of what you can expect to experience/see in the Lion Monument.
8. Church of Saint Leodegar
Of all the landmarks in Lucerne, it’s the Church of Saint Leodegar, which you’ll surely notice when sightseeing in Lake Lucerne. There’s no doubt about that, with its pointed twin spires dominating the skyline of Lucerne over the lake.
Aside from its eye-catching appearance, I think the Church of Saint Leodegar is also one of the most picturesque because of its imposing facade. This church’s facade has a mix of gothic and German renaissance styles, which makes it uniquely elegant. Have a look at its front and interiors:
By the way, what is the Church of Saint Leodegar?
In simplest words, The Church of Saint Leodegar, also known as the Hofkirche, is the Catholic parish church of Lucerne. Its long history and appearance make it a significant building in the city’s history, religion, and architecture.
The Church of Saint Leodegar is located at the edge of the old city to the east. It is easy to find, especially near Schweizerhofquai, Seebrücke, or any other place with a view of Lake Lucerne. Again, the church’s spires dominate the skyline, so once you spot them, you can easily follow the direction they are pointing in to find the church.
When I checked the Church of Saint Leodegar, it’s the main portal you’ll find most interesting. In the main portal, visitors are greeted with a stunning display of woodwork, sculptures, and classical elaborative elements on the columns. The relief and ornamentation around the door are a true feast for the eyes.
I must admit that the Church of Saint Leodegar isn’t as stunning as other famous churches. But I think it’s worth a quick visit for the artwork, beautiful organ, and impressive altars.
Get more ideas on why you should visit this landmark in Lucerne from my post about the Church of Saint Leodegar. In that post, you’ll find:
- Why visit the church of Saint Leodegar
- What does this church look like inside and outside
- How to visit it; and
- When to see the church of Saint Leodegar
9. Houses in Old Town Lucerne
At this point, I have mentioned all the major landmarks in Lucerne’s old town. However, there are more buildings that you need to see! They are the houses in the old city, and I consider them the gems we can pick up during the journey/trips.
What makes the houses in the old town of Lucerne special? It is their elaborate facade, designed with murals and paintings. I believe these murals are called Lüftlmalerei. It is an alpine tradition of painting the facades of houses with pictures depicting the job or the favorite saints of the house owner.
Have a look:
Where can you find these beautiful houses in the old town of Lucerne? Generally, these houses are located in the old city squares like Weinmarkt, Hirschenplatz, and Sternenplatz. (Google Maps links in the sources section)
In Weinmarkt, you can find a house with murals depicting the Biblical scene of the Wedding Feast at Cana. It includes angels playing violins and other musical instruments above the painting of the wedding. (I’m not quite sure about this; if you know what it exactly means, please post it in the comments section. Thank you! )
Also, in Weinmarkt, near the fountain, you can see a brown house whose mural depicts the Temptation of Eve. It’s packed with smaller details, such as dragons, and more symbolism.
Hirschenplatz, on the other hand, has 5 houses with facades having Lüftlmalerei. But the two most notable are the buildings to the south and east of the square. Those two houses in Hirschenplatz have stunningly elaborate fronts.
The first house has paintings depicting great soldiers, patriots, and knights. And then the second house has murals showing intricate columns and beams of classical architecture. The second house also has pictures of faces of wise and strong men and cute baby angels holding diamond rings.
Do you want to see more?
If you want to see a building with a bizarre painting, you must go to Sternenplatz. In that square, you’ll see Restaurant Fritschi’s building with modern artwork that depicts fairytales, witches, clowns, and a plant with a face.
There’s another elaborate house in Sternenplatz, though.
This house has a facade with a picture of a rich family in the middle. Just below the image of a family are the kids or people showing different personalities. One plays a musical instrument, another bears the flag of Lucerne and Switzerland, and so on.
So, yeah. Strolling in Lucerne’s old town is like stumbling upon an open children’s book with the squares I just mentioned.
But, aside from the houses, you should also try seeing some establishments in Lucerne’s old city. The two I recommend the most are Hotel des Balances and Pfistern Restaurant.
Hotel Des Balances has a facade full of murals depicting classical architectural elements. I think it is one of the most spectacular buildings in the old town of Lucerne.
Pfistern Restaurant, on the other hand, has walls filled with paintings of plants. These plants have fruits with the coat of arms of the different groups in Switzerland—superb creativity. I’m not sure if they’re cantonal coats of arms, though.
Do you want to see more beautiful murals and things in Lucerne? Check this out: Lucerne Is A Beautiful City: 10 Beautiful Things To See. You might be also interested to discover the 10 Unique Things To Do In Lucerne.
10. Meggenhorn Castle
I’ll finish this list of beautiful landmarks in Lucerne with Meggenhorn Castle. It’s a castle in Meggen, a municipality within the district of Lucerne. Based on its fairytale appearance, I consider it the most “magical landmark” you can see on your trip to Lucerne.
Meggenhorn Castle is also the most idyllic among the places or landmarks in Lucerne I enumerated previously. Sitting almost on the tip of a peninsula on Lake Lucerne, its idyllic setting will absolutely make you feel calm and relaxed.
This is what Meggenhorn Castle looks like from a boat ride in Lake Lucerne:
Meggenhorn Castle takes longer to reach than any landmarks in Lucerne in this list, though. You will have to hike for about 10 to 15 minutes after a bus ride (bus #24) to Meggen (Lerchenbühl Station) from Lucerne central station. That’s almost 30 minutes of travel time from the city.
I think you’d like to visit Meggenhorn Castle for the reasons below.
1. By visiting Meggenhorn castle, you are rewarded with scenery with a 180° view of Lake Lucerne that includes Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi, and the city of Lucerne. You can go to the red bench, sit there, and enjoy the views of the city and mountains. It’s a perfect place to find inner peace!
2. The castle and the surroundings can be so romantic. If you’re traveling with your partner, I’m sure you’ll also like strolling in the French garden that matches the castle with a neo-Renaissance style. Alternative to that is the English garden near the castle’s 19th-century neo-Gothic chapel.
3. Of course, Meggenhorn Castle is packed with photo opportunities! Especially when it is sunny, you can try the hiking trails through the vineyards or the path to Känzeli Meggenhorn. You can see chalets, barns, animals, covered lookouts, a perspective of the castle/chapel with Lake Lucerne in the background, and more!
Meggenhorn Castle welcomes everyone who wants to linger around its garden and open areas.
But if you want to learn more about Meggenhorn Castle and see what’s inside, you can join the tour the castle’s staff offers. However, when I last checked, tours were only offered on Sundays, from April to October.
You can check the official website of Meggenhorn Castle (linked in the sources section) to see its latest announcements like visiting information, etc.
Sources Beautiful Landmarks in Lucerne:
- Bridges in Lucerne
- Spreuer Bridge (Wikipedia)
- Kanzeli Meggenhorn (Google Map)
- Schloss Meggenhorn (official website)
- Weinmarkt (Google Maps)
- Hirschenplatz (Google Maps)
- Sternenplatz (Google Maps)
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