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LUCERNE

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 98 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LUCERNE, the capital of the Swiss canton of the same name. It is one of the principal tourist centres of Switzerland, being situated on the St Gotthard railway line, by which it is 59 M. from Basel and 18o m. from Milan. Its prosperity has always been bound up with the St Gotthard Pass, so that the successive improvements effected on that route (mule path in the 13th century, carriage road 182o-183o, and railway tunnel in 1882) have had much effect on its growth. It is beautifully situated on the banks of the river Reuss, just as it issues from the Lake of Lucerne, while to the south-west rises the rugged range of Pilatus, balanced on the east by the more smiling ridge of the Rigi and the calm waters of the lake. The town itself is very picturesque. On the rising ground to its north still stand nine of the towers that defended the old town wall on the Musegg slope. The Reuss is still crossed by two quaint old wooden bridges, the upper being the Kapellbriicke (adorned by many paintings illustrating the history of Switzerland and the town and clinging to the massive Wasserthurm) and the lower the Miihlenbriicke (also with paintings, this time of the Dance of Death). The old Hofbriicke (on the site of the Schweizerhof quay) was removed in 1852, when the process of embanking the shore of the lake began, the result being a splendid series of quays, along which rise palatial hotels. The principal building is the twin-towered Hofkirche (dedicated to St Leger or Leodegar) which, though in its present form it dates only from 1633-1635, was the centre round which the town gradually gathered; originally it formed part of a Benedictine monastery, but since 1455 has been held by a college of secular canons. It has a fine 17th-century organ. The 16th-century town-hall (Rathhaus) now houses the cantonal museum of antiquities of all dates. Both the cantonal and the town libraries are rich in old books, the latter being now specially devoted to works (MS. or printed) relating to Swiss history before 1848. The Lion monument, designed by Thorwaldsen, dedicated in 1821, and consisting of a dying lion hewn out of the living sandstone, commemorates the officers and men of the Swiss Guard (26 officers and about 76o men) who were slain while defending the Tuileries in Paris in 1792, and is reflected in a clear pool at its foot. In the immediate neighbourhood is the Glacier Garden, a series of potholes worn in the sandstone rock bed of an ancient glacier. Among modern buildings are the railway station, the post office and the Museum of War and Peace, all in the new quarter on the left bank of the Reuss. In the interior of the town are many quaint old private houses. In 1799 the population numbered but 4337, but had doubled by 184o. Since then the rise has been rapid and continuous, being 29,255 in 1900. The vast majority are German-speaking (in 1900 there were 1242 Italian-speaking and to the irregularity of its shape. It is, in fact, composed of four main basins (with two side basins), which represent four different valleys, orographically distinct, and connected only by narrow and tortuous channels. There is, first, the most easterly basin, the Bay of Uri, extending from Fliielen on the south to Brunnen on the north. At Brunnen the great delta of the Muota forces the lake to the west, so that it forms the Bay of Gersau or the Gulf of Buochs, extending from the promontory of Seelisberg (E.) to that of the Burgenstock (W.). Another narrow strait between the two " Noses " (Nasen) leads westwards to the Basin of Weggis, enclosed between the Rigi (N.) and the Burgenstock promontory (S.). This last named bay forms the eastern arm of what is called the Cross of Lucerne, the western arm of which is formed by the Bay of Lucerne, while the northern arm is the Bay of Kussnacht and the southern that of Hergiswil, prolonged S.W. by the Bay of Alpnach, with which it is joined by a very narrow channel, spanned by the Acher iron bridge. The Bay of Uri offers the sternest scenery, but is the most interesting, by reason of its connexion with early Swiss history—at Brunnen the Everlasting League of 1315 was really made, while the legendary place of meeting of the founders of Swiss freedom was the meadow of the Ruth on the west (purchased by the Confederation in 1859), and the site of Tell's leap is marked by the Chapel of Tell (E.). Nearly opposite Brunnen, close to the west shore, an isolated rock (the Schillerstein or Mythenstein) now bears an inscription in honour of Friedrich Schiller, the author of the famous play of William Tell (1804). In the Bay of Gersau the most interesting spot is the village of Gersau (N.), which formed an independent republic from 1390 to 1798, but in 1818 was finally united to the canton of Schwyz. In the next basin to the west is Weggis (N.), also for long in the middle ages a small independent state; to the S.E. of Weggis, on the north shore of the lake, is Vitznau, whence a rack railway (1871) leads up to the top of the Rigi (41.M.), while S.W. of Weggis, on the south shore of the lake, is Kehrsiten, whence an electric railway leads up to the great hotels on the Burgenstock promontory (2854 ft.). The town of Lucerne is connected with Fluelen by the main line of the St Gotthard railway (32 m.), though only portions of this line (from Lucerne to Kussnacht, 102 m., and from Brunnen to Fluelen, 7 m.) run along the shore; Brunnen is also connected with Fluelen by the splendid carriage road known as the Axenstrasse (71 m.) and is the starting-point of an electric line (1905) up to Morschach (S.E.) and the great hotels of Axenstein and Axenfels near it. On the promontory between Lucerne and Kussnacht stands the castle of New Habsburg (modern), while from Kussnacht a carriage road leads through the remains of the " Hollow Way " (Hohle Gasse), the scene of the legendary murder of Gessler by William Tell. The west shore of the southern arm, or the basin of Hergiswil and the Bay of Alpnach, is traversed from Horw to Alpnachstad by the Briinig railway (51 m.), which continues towards Sarnen (Obwalden) and the Bernese Oberland, S.W. from Alpnachstad, whence a rack railway leads N.W. up Pilatus (21 m.). Opposite Hergiswil, but on the east shore of the Basin of Hergiswil, is Stanstad, the port of Stans (Nidwalden), which is connected by an electric line with Engelberg (14 M.). The first steamer was placed on the lake in 1835. Lucerne is the only town of importance, but several spots serve as ports for neighbouring towns or large villages (Brunnen for Schwyz, Fluelen for Altdorf, Stanstad for Stans, Alpnachstad for Sarnen). Most of the villages on the shores are frequented in summer by visitors (Gersau also in winter), especially Hertenstein, Weggis, Gersau, Brunnen, Beckenried and Hergiswil, while great hotels, commanding magnificent views, have been built on heights above it, such as the Burgenstock, Seelisberg, and near Morschach, above Brunnen, besides those on the Rigi, Pilatus and the Stanserhorn. The area of the lake is about 441 sq. •m., its length about 24 m., its greatest width only 2 M. and its greatest depth 702 ft., while the surface of the water is 1434 ft. above sea-level. Of the total area about 152 sq. m. are in the Canton of Lucerne, 13 sq. m. in that of Nidwalden, 71 sq. m. in that of Uri, 71 sq. m. in that of Schwyz, and about 1 sq. m. in that of Obwalden. (W. A. B. C.)
End of Article: LUCERNE
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LUCERNE (Ger. Luzern; Ital. Lucerne)

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