Visiting Hofkirche Lucerne (Why Go, Expectations, & Tips)

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While exploring the Old Town of Lucerne, a few landmarks really caught my attention. One of them is the Hofkirche, also known as the Church of Saint Leodegar. This Catholic parish church of Lucerne, I believe, is one of the city’s most beautiful landmarks and among the best places you can visit for free — much like the Musegg Wall, Chapel Bridge, and Lion Monument.

With its pointy twin spires dominating the city’s skyline, the Church of Saint Leodegar is very easy to find. As an architecture enthusiast, it may seem like a giant in the city, beckoning you to come closer and marvel at its gorgeousness. This feeling could be even more pronounced if you’re taking in the view of the city from a boat on Lake Lucerne. At night, the Church of Saint Leodegar transforms into a beacon shining over Lake Lucerne. It’s a romantic sight, especially for travelers spending evenings in Lucerne during their 2-day or 3-day stay in the city.

However, while the Church of Saint Leodegar is certainly eye-catching, like the Jesuit Church, I don’t see it as a unique experience that you can have in Lucerne. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth a quick stop for its picture-worthy appearance, which becomes even more apparent when beholding it up close from its front yard. If you have a few minutes to spare during your one-day trip to Lucerne, visit Church of Saint Leodegar.

Let me show you a glimpse of the beautiful sights you can find if you visit it. I’ll be sharing tips to make the most of your visit, too.

In case you’re not familiar with the Church of Saint Leodegar yet…
  • The Church of Saint Leodegar is one of the most important buildings in Lucerne, historically, religiously, and architecturally.
  • It dates back to the 8th century; however, its current structure was only built during the mid-17th century after it was damaged by a fire incident.
  • Today, the church maintains its architecture, which is a blend of different styles. Elements of German Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque can be found in its interiors, exteriors, and even artworks.
  • The church houses one of the oldest and most significant sacred treasures in Switzerland. Notable items include a large vestibule cross, a silver missal cover, and a chalice from the Burgundian booty of the Confederates.
  • The majority of these treasures date from the 17th and 18th centuries, following the rebuilding of the church after the fire of 1633.

Exteriors and Interiors (Photo Gallery)


Should You Visit this Church?

To put it simply, it’s a yes if you’re a Catholic traveler or if you have plenty of time (or you have extra time) to spend in Lucerne.

As a devout Catholic, I wouldn’t want to miss it. The old, intricate altars inside exude inspiration for saying a prayer. Elegant and picturesque, wanderers must also pin this church as a destination on their map of Old Town Lucerne. The church’s facade and the wooden and painted artworks in its entrance are a must-see for anyone who loves to appreciate beautiful things while traveling!

However, for other travelers, I wouldn’t prioritize the Church of Saint Leodegar. There are only a very few spectacular things to see in the church. Don’t expect it to be on par with the Baroque Churches in Vienna or those you can find in Rome, Spain, or France.

Nevertheless, the Church of Saint Leodegar is a nice place to visit and capture another photo souvenir of Lucerne (aside from the Chapel Bridge). Tip: Head to the front yard of this church to see it. Specifically, stand on the stairs a few steps from the facade and have someone take your photo a few more steps farther.

The Church of Saint Leodegar is also a great place in Lucerne to find some peace and quiet if you need it. If you also consider yourself a little introspective, I think a moment inside this church is a wonderful opportunity for reflectionwhile visiting Lucerne.

Visiting Expectations

As a wanderer, The Church of Saint Leodegar has a certain charm that’s hard to ignore. Overall, it’s the most important thing you can expect to experience in visiting the Church of Saint Leodegar.

Read the details: Facade + Main Entrance of the Church of Saint Leodegar

The unique charm of the Church of Saint Leodegar begins with the central part of its facade, beautifully adorned by cherubic reliefs and sculptures.

You’ll surely notice the clock; it appears as though made from leaves that have turned into stone. In the middle, if I’m not mistaken, stands the statue of St. Michael the Archangel vanquishing the devil beneath him. Perhaps it was placed there to inspire hope in the parishioners and remind them that evil will never triumph.

Interestingly, beneath this statue is the coat of arms of the Habsburg family, accompanied by the flag of Lucerne in blue and white colors. It must have been placed there to commemorate the relationship between Lucerne and the Habsburg monarchy after the city joined the Old Confederacy in 1332.

Just before you enter the main door of the Church of Saint Leodegar, you’ll be surprised by what you see. Immediately, you’ll be welcomed by beautiful woodworks, reliefs, and religious sculptures surrounded by illusionary monochrome line art. I needed a second glance to determine whether it’s two-dimensional or three. Trompe-l’œil frescoes.

It’s also in this part that you’ll get an idea of what the patron saints of Lucerne look like. Simply look sideways, and you’ll see them above two other doors: the statues of Saint Leodegar and Saint Mauritius. They are accompanied by four other saints. As far as I can remember, they are Saint Peter, Saint Benedict, Saint Clemens, and Saint Nicolaus. Their names are inscribed below their statues.

I am particularly impressed by the main door. I believe it was built in a neoclassical or Renaissance style. It’s heavily detailed, something you’ll behold before your first steps inside the church. The wooden doors feature the relief of a bishop and a soldier. I’m not sure if they’re also Saint Leodegar and Saint Mauritius. But I do know that atop the magnificent arch of the door stands the statue of the Virgin Mary. There, she stands in glory, warmly welcoming visitors with baby Jesus in her arms.

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Read the details: Interiors of the Church of Saint Leodegar

The interiors may not be as elaborate as the main gate of the church, but there are interesting gems to be found.

As you walk along the nave, the first thing you might notice are the ornate pews, which come in two types: beautiful and simpler ones. These pews tell a sad part of history: wealthy citizens are segregated from ordinary worshippers. The wealthy sit at the more beautiful pews, while the rest sit at the plainer ones. Pews, by the way, are the long wooden benches along the nave.

The organ above the narthex is also worth seeing. It’s huge and sits on an elaborate gallery. This organ dates back to 1640 but has been remodelled several times.

If you’re looking for the most important treasure inside the church, it’s the ornate gilded altars on both sides of the transept. If I am not mistaken, the one on the right features the artwork, the Pieta. On the opposite side is St. Mary’s Altar, which bears a relief panel from the 16th century. That one is a real treasure, as it’s one of the few items that survived the fire that destroyed the Gothic Church that stood on the site in the 17th century.

Beautiful woodcrafts also await you inside the church. The 17th-century Renaissance wooden choir stalls behind the wrought-iron gate with the center cross are spectacular. They look really antique, richly filled with ornamentation like statues of saints and biblical symbolisms. Lastly, the iron gates — particularly the one behind the figure of Jesus. They are beautifully designed with filigree patterns and intricate scrolling. A simple but beautiful artwork.

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Here are additional photos to provide a better preview of the beauty that awaits you inside the Church of Saint Leodegar.


How to Get There

Are you interested in visiting the Church of Saint Leodegar? The Church of Saint Leodegar is located at the edge of the old city to the east. Again, it’s easy to find, especially if you’re already in Schweizerhofquai, Seebrücke, or any place with an open view of Lake Lucerne. The spires of the Church of Saint Leodegar dominate the skyline, and once you spot them, you can simply follow their direction.

Suppose you’re currently in Schweizerhofquai, the wide road east of the old city that offers views of Lake Lucerne. In that case, all you need to do is walk straight northeast to reach the Church of Saint Leodegar. The facade of the church is perpendicular to Schweizerhofquai. If you prefer to use public transportation, you can take buses #1, #6, #19, or #73 and get off at the Luzernerhof bus stop. The church is less than a minute’s walk from the bus stop.

Best Time to Visit

There’s no specific time to visit the Church of Saint Leodegar, unless you’re like me and enjoy capturing “eye-gasmic” photos of the places you visit. If that’s your goal, I recommend visiting the church during the golden hour, the hours just after sunrise and before sunset. Of course, if you want to explore the interior of the Church of Saint Leodegar, you’ll need to visit during its open hours.

One event you shouldn’t miss is the Lilu Light Festival Lucerne. This is when the landmarks in Lucerne, including the Church of Saint Leodegar, are illuminated with colorful light effects at night. The festival typically takes place in the second week of January and lasts for eleven straight days. To stay updated on the opening hours of the Church of Saint Leodegar and the dates of the Lilu Light Festival, you can check the official websites of the church and the festival, which are linked at the end of this post.


For more information and further planning to visit the Church of Saint Leodegar, please kindly check the links below.

For an insightful visit to the Church of Saint Leodegar and the rest of Lucerne, you might like to check out this private walking tour with a local or this 1-Hour Historical Tour with the Night Watchman. The later is a unique experience!

Are you planning a trip to Lucerne soon to see the Church of Saint Leodegar and other attractions in the city? Have you already secured accommodation? If so, please consider using my link to my partner’s website to find and book a hotel. As far as I know, they offer the best hotel deals in Europe: lower prices, free cancellations, and other perks. However, this link is an affiliate link. I may earn a commission when you book through it at no extra cost to you. Consider it as a donation to WanderInEurope, so I can write more helpful and insightful posts like this. Your help is deeply appreciated!

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Interested in visiting more churches in Switzerland? Try the Bern Cathedral. It’s the tallest church in the country and boasts an impressive archivolt. You can climb its tower to see some of the best views in Bern. From there, you can spot the city’s beautiful landmarks like the Bundeshaus and Zytglogge.

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