What Has The Chapel Bridge In Lucerne, Switzerland Been Used For?
The Chapel Bridge dates back to the mid-14th Century and the wooden footbridge has stood in place over the Reuss River ever since. At the middle of the bridge stands the Water Tower and with the Chapel Bridge, they mark the upper end of the medieval bridgehead city of Lucerne. It is where Lake Lucerne drains its waters into the River Ruess. The Water Tower served as an archive, a dungeon, and a treasury until the 19th Century, but it is now a clubroom for a traditional association and this makes it off limits to the public except for the souvenir shop in the tower.
Chapel Bridge was built as part of Lucerne’s fortifications and the main purpose of the bridge was to link the new town on the northern bank of the River Reuss with the old town on the southern bank. It initially was 200 meters long, but it has lost 30 meters over time.
Marvelous Paintings Showing the City’s History
The Chapel Bridge is not only famous for being the oldest and longest wooden bridge, it is also famous for its amazing paintings hung under the trusses. The triangular paintings tell stories of Lucerne’s history spanning from the life and death of St. Lager, Lucerne’s patron saint, to the legends of St. Maurice, another of the city’s patron saints. During the construction of the bridge, the council members sponsored the creation of the paintings by local artist Hans Heinrich, who painted on spruce boards.
Unfortunately, in 1993, a fire razed part of the bridge and of the 147 paintings, only 47 could be saved and only 30 could be restored. The lost paintings were replaced with others that had been preserved since 1834. However, the paintings are removed during carnival days spanning late January to early February and replaced with equally pleasing carnival paintings. This is truly a trip down memory lane and the Chapel Bridge holds the history of Lucerne for all to see.