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Lucerne ( , Italian Lucerna) is a city in Switzerlandmarker. It is the capital of the Canton of Lucernemarker and seat of the districtmarker with the same name. With a population of 57,890, Lucerne is the most populous city in Central Switzerlandmarker and a focal point of the region. The city's agglomeration consists of 17 municipalities in three cantons with an overall population of nearly 200,000.

Due to its location on the shore of Lake Lucernemarker (Vierwaldstättersee), within sight of Mount Pilatusmarker and Rigimarker in the Swiss Alpsmarker, Lucerne is traditionally considered first and foremost as a tourist destination. One of the city's famous landmarks is Chapel Bridgemarker (Kapellbrücke), a wooden bridge first built in the 14th century.


Early history and founding (750–1386)

Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke)
After the fall of the Roman Empire beginning in the 6th century, Germanic Alemannic peoples increased their influence on this area of present day Switzerland.Around 750 the Benedictine Monastery of St. Leodegar was founded, which was later acquired by Murbach Abbeymarker in Alsacemarker in the middle of the 9th century, and by this time the area had become known as Luciaria. In 1178 Lucerne acquired its independence from the jurisdiction of Murbach Abbey, and the founding of the city proper probably occurred this same year. The city gained importance as a strategically located gateway for the growing commerce from the Gotthardmarker trade route.

By 1290 Lucerne became a good-sized, self-sufficient city with about 3000 inhabitants. About this time King Rudolph I von Habsburg gained authority over the Monastery of St. Leodegar and its lands, including Lucerne. The populace did not appreciate the increasing Habsburg influence, and Lucerne allied with neighboring towns to seek independence from Habsburg rule. Along with Lucerne, the three other forest cantons of Urimarker, Schwyzmarker and Unterwaldenmarker formed the "eternal" Swiss Confederacy, known as the Eidgenossenschaft, on November 7, 1332. Later the cities Zurich, Zugmarker and Bernemarker joined the alliance. With the help of these additions, the rule of Austriamarker over the area was ended. The issue was settled through Lucerne’s victory over the Habsburgs in the Battle of Sempachmarker in 1386. For Lucerne this victory ignited an era of expansion. The city shortly granted many rights to itself, rights which had been withheld by the Habsburgs until then. By this time the borders of Lucerne approximately matched those of today.

From city to city-state (1386–1520)

In 1415 Lucerne gained Reichsfreiheit from Emperor Sigismund and became a strong member of the Swiss confederacy. The city developed its infrastructure, raised taxes, and appointed its own local officials. The city’s population of 3000 dropped about 40% due to the Black Plague around 1350 and several wars.

In 1419 town records show the first witch trial against a male person.

Swiss-Catholic town (1520–1798)

Lucerne in 1642
Among the growing towns of the confederacy, Lucerne was especially popular in attracting new residents. As the confederacy broke up during Reformation after 1520, most cities became Protestant but Lucerne remained Catholic. After the victory of the Catholics over the Protestants in the Battle at Kappel in 1531, the Catholic towns dominated the confederacy. The future, however, belonged to the Protestant cities like Zurich, Berne and Baselmarker, who defeated the Catholics in the second Villmerg Warmarker in 1712. The former prominent position of Lucerne in the confederacy was lost forever. In the 16th and 17th centuries, wars and epidemics became steadily less frequent and as a result the population of the country increased strongly.

Lucerne in 1758

Lucerne was also involved in the Swiss peasant war of 1653.

Century of revolutions (1798–1914)

Conflict at Lucerne, Illustrated London News, 1845.
In 1798, nine years after the beginning of the French Revolution, the French army marched into Switzerland. The old confederacy collapsed and the government became democratic. The industrial revolution hit Lucerne rather late, and by 1860 only 1.7% of the population worked in industry, which was about a quarter of the countrywide rate at that time. Agriculture, which employed about 40% of the workers, was the main form of economic output in the canton. Nevertheless, industry was attracted to the city from areas around Lucerne. From 1850 to 1913, the population quadrupled and the flow of settlers increased. In 1856 trains first linked the city to Oltenmarker and Basel, then Zug and Zurich in 1864 and finally to the south in 1897.

Lucerne today

On June 17, 2007, voters of Lucerne and the adjacent municipality of Littaumarker agreed on a merger in a simultaneously held referendum, becoming effective on January 1, 2010. The combined municipality will have a population of around 75,000, making it the seventh largest city in Switzerland, and will keep the name and coat of arms of the city of Lucerne. The successful referendum is expected to pave the way for negotiations with other neighbouring municipalities in an effort to create a unified city-region, based on the results of a study.


Since the city straddles the Reuss Riverwhere it drains the lake, it has a number of bridges. The most famous is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrückemarker), a long wooden bridge originally built in 1333, although much of it had to be replaced after a fire on August 18, 1993, allegedly caused by a discarded cigarette.Partway across, the bridge runs by the octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturm), a fortification from the 13th century. Inside the bridge are a series of paintings from the 17th century depicting events from Luzern's history. The Bridge with its Tower is the city's most famous landmark.

Downriver, between the Kasernenplatz and the Mühlenplatz, the Spreuerbrückeor Mill Bridge zigzags across the Reuss. Constructed in 1408, it is the oldest covered bridge in Europeand features a series of medieval-style 17th Century plague paintings by Kaspar Meglingertitled Dance of Death. Meglinger's paintings portray various conditions of men and women, priests and warriors, princes and men of learning, the young bride, the devout nun, the lawmaker, the hunter, the miller, even the artist himself, are all depicted at the mercy of Death, with his mocking smile and his ever-changing garb. These paintings, suitable for a Benedictine abbey, are seen by every inhabitant of beautiful Lucerne who crosses the river via the Spreuerbrücke. It has a small chapel in the middle that was added in 1568.

Old Town Lucerne is located just north of the Reuss River, and still has several fine half-timberstructures with painted fronts. Remnants of the old town walls exist on the hill above Lucerne, complete with eight tall watch towers. An additional gated tower sits at the base of the hill on the banks of the Reuss River.

The twin needle towers of the Church of St. Leodegar, which was named after the city's patron saint, sit on a small hill just above the lakefront. Originally built in 735, the present structure was erected in 1633 in the late Renaissancestyle. However, the towers are surviving remnants of an earlier structure. The interior is richly decorated. The church is popularly called the Hofkirche(German) and is known locally as the Hofchile(Swiss-German).

Bertel Thorvaldsen's famous carving of a dying lion (the Lion Monumentmarker, or Löwendenkmal) is found in a small park just off Lowenplatz.The carving commemorates the hundreds of Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when the mob stormed the Tuileries Palacemarker in Parismarker.

The Swiss Transport Museummarker is a large and comprehensive museum exhibiting all forms of transport, including locomotives, automobiles, ships, and aircraft.

The Culture and Convention Centermarker beside the lake in the center of the city was designed by Jean Nouvel.The center has one of the world's leading concert halls, with acoustics by Russell Johnson.


Another view across Lake Lucerne.
Lucerne has an area of . Of this area, 11.6% is used for agricultural purposes, while 25.8% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 60.4% is settled (buildings or roads) and the remainder (2.2%) is non-productive (rivers, glaciers or mountains). , 25.9% of the total land area was forested. Of the agricultural land, 10.64% is used for farming or pastures, while 0.95% is used for orchards or vine crops. Of the settled areas, 33.19% is covered with buildings, 1.71% is industrial, 0.89% is classed as special developments, 8.04% is parks or greenbelts and 16.53% is transportation infrastructure. Of the unproductive areas, 0.51% is unproductive standing water (ponds or lakes), 1.01% is unproductive flowing water (rivers) and 0.63% is other unproductive land.


Lucerne has a population ( ) of 58,381, of which 19.0% are foreign nationals. Over the last 10 years the population has grown at a rate of 1.2%. Most of the population ( ) speaks German (84.5%), with Italian being second most common ( 2.7%) and Serbo-Croatian being third ( 2.5%).

The age distribution in Lucerne is; 8,454 people or 14.3% of the population is 0–19 years old. 18,772 people or 31.7% are 20–39 years old, and 19,239 people or 32.5% are 40–64 years old. The senior population distribution is 8,463 people or 14.3% are 65–79 years old, 3,570 or 6% are 80–89 years old and 725 people or 1.2% of the population are 90+ years old.

The entire Swiss population is generally well educated. In Lucerne about 73.6% of the population (between age 25-64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary educationor additional higher education (either University or a Fachhochschule).

 there are 30,586 households, of which 15,452 households (or about 50.5%) contain only a single individual. 853 or about 2.8% are large households, with at least five members.  there were 5,707 inhabited buildings in the municipality, of which 4,050 were built only as housing, and 1,657 were mixed use buildings. There were 1,152 single family homes, 348 double family homes, and 2,550 multi-family homes in the municipality. Most homes were either two (787) or three (1,468) story structures. There were only 74 single story buildings and 1,721 four or more story buildings.

The historical population is given in the following table:


In the 2007 election the most popular party was the SPSwhich received 22.6% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the FDP(19.3%) and the SVP(18.6%).


The city grew up around Sankt Leodegar Abbey, founded in 840 AD, and remained strongly Roman Catholicinto the 21st Century. In 1850, 96.9% of the population was Catholic, in 1900 it was 81.9% and in 1950 it was still 72.3%. the religious membership of Lucerne was; 35,682 (60.%) were Roman Catholic, and 9,227 (15.5%) were Protestant, with an additional 1,979 (3.33%) that were of some other Christian faith. There are 196 individuals (0.33% of the population) who are Jewish. There are 1,824 individuals (3.07% of the population) who are Muslim. Of the rest; there were 1,073 (1.8%) individuals who belong to another religion, 6,310 (10.61%) who do not belong to any organized religion, 3,205 (5.39%) who did not answer the question.

Culture and Entertainment


Since plans for the new culture and convention center arose in the late 1980s, Lucerne has found a balance between the so-called established culture and alternative culture. A consensus was reached that culminated in a culture compromise (Kulturkompromiss). The established culture comprises the Culture and Congress Centre (KKLmarker), the city theater (Luzerner Theater) and, in a broader sense, smaller establishments such as Kleintheater, founded by Lucerne native and comedian Emil Steinberger, or Stadtkeller, a music restaurant in the city's old town.KKL houses a concert hall as well as the Museum of Art Lucerne (Kunstmuseum Luzern).

Alternative culture took place mostly in the premises of a former tube factory, which became known as Boa. Other localities for alternative culture have since emerged in the same quarter as Boa. In the beginning, Boa staged various plays, but concerts became more and more common; this new use was disparate with the development of apartmentbuildings on nearby lots of land. Due to possible noise pollution, Boa was closed and a replacement in a less heavily inhabited area is currently under construction. Critics claimed though, that the new establishment would not meet the requirements for alternative culture.


Jodelling festival 2008
Every year, towards the end of winter, Carnival(Fasnacht) breaks out in the streets, alleyways and squares of the old town. This is a glittering outdoor party, where chaos and merriness reign and nothing is as it normally is. Strange characters in fantastic masks and costumes make their way through the alleyways, while carnival bands (Guggenmusigen) blow their instruments in joyful cacophony and thousands of bizarrely clad people sing and dance away the winter. Lucerne Carnival starts every year on the Thursday before Ash Wednesdaywith a big bang. There are big parades on Dirty Thursdayand the following Monday, called Fat Monday, which attract tens of thousands of people. Lucerne's Carnival ends with a crowning finish on Fat Tuesdayevening with a tremendous parade of big bands, lights and lanterns. After the parade, all the bands wander through the city playing joyful music.

The city hosts various renowned festivals throughout the year. The Lucerne Festival for classical music takes place in summer. Its orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, is hand-picked from some of the finest instrumentalists in the world. In July, the Blue Balls Festivalbrings jazz, blues and funk music to the lake promenade and halls of the Culture and Convention Center. The Lucerne Blues Festivalis another musical festival which usually takes place in November. Since spring 2004, Lucerne has hosted the Festival Rose d'Orfor television entertainment. And in April, the well-established comics festival Fumettoattracts an international audience.

Being the cultural center of a rather rural region, Lucerne regularly holds different folklorefestivals, such as Lucerne Cheese Festival, held annually. In 2004, Lucerne was the focus of Swiss Wrestlingfans when it had hosted the Swiss Wrestling and Alpine festival (Eidgenössisches Schwing- und Älplerfest), which takes place every three years in a different location. A national music festival (Eidgenössiches Musikfest) attracted marching bands from all parts of Switzerland in 2006. In summer 2008, the jodelling festival (Eidgenössisches Jodlerfest) is expected to have similar impact.


Lucerne has an unemployment rate of 3%. , there were 134 people employed in the primary economic sectorand about 21 businesses involved in this sector. 5568 people are employed in the secondary sectorand there are 416 businesses in this sector. 47628 people are employed in the tertiary sector, with 3773 businesses in this sector. 51.7% of the population of the municipality were employed in some capacity. At the same time, females made up 47.9% of the workforce.



There are several football clubs throughout the city. The most successful one is FC Luzernwhich is playing in Switzerland's premier league (Swiss Super League). The club plays its home matches at Allmend stadiummarker, an outdated 13.000-capacity field in the south of the city.There are plans for a modern football arena combined with an indoor swimming pool and public sports facilities. The complex is not expected to be ready before 2009.

In the past, Lucerne also produced national successes in men's handballand women's volleyball.

Having a long tradition of equestrian sports, Lucerne has co-hosted CSIO Switzerland, an international equestrian show jumping event, until it left entirely for St. Gallenmarker in 2006.Since then, the Lucerne Equestrian Masters took its place. There is also an annual horse racingevent, usually taking place in August.

Lucerne annually hosts the final leg of the Rowing World Cup on Rotseemarker Lake, and has hosted numerous World Rowing Championships, among others the first ever in 1962.Lucerne was also bidding for the 2011 issue but failed.

The city also provides facilities for ice-hockey, figure-skating, golf, swimming, basketball, rugby, skateboarding, climbingand more.


Main railway station
Lucerne boasts a developed and well-run transport network, with the main operator, VBL, running both busesand trolleybusesin the city. Other operators, such as Auto AG Rothenburg, provide busservices to neighbouring towns and villages. Lucerne stationmarker enjoys excellent links to the rest of Switzerland via rail services operated by SBB and Zentralbahn.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Lucerne is twinnedwith the following towns:


Lucerne has an average of 138.1 days of rain per year and on average receives of precipitation. The wettest month is June during which time Lucerne receives an average of of precipitation. During this month there is precipitation for an average of 14.2 days. The driest month of the year is February with an average of of precipitation over 14.2 days.

See also


  1. Annual Population Figures January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2006 (Microsoft Excel) (German) Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved on August 30, 2007.
  2. List of agglomerations and isolated cities in Switzerland, 2000 (Microsoft Excel) (German) Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved on August 30, 2007.
  3. January 4, 2007
  4. LUSTAT Lucerne Cantonal Statistics accessed 12 August 2009
  5. Swiss Federal Statistical Office accessed 20-Aug-2009
  6. , the weather station elevation is 454 meters above sea level.

External links

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