Enjoy “history with a view” amid the natural beauty of Lake Lucerne from Europe’s oldest covered bridge.
Chapel Bridge is located in the heart of Lucerne and serves as a symbol of Switzerland’s medieval town. Also referred to as Kapellbrücke, the bridge is named after nearby St. Peter’s Chapel. The bridge is famed as an architectural masterpiece, because of its wood construction and iconic covered style. It is the oldest covered bridge in Europe, dating back to the 14th century.
Spanning 670 feet (204 meters), the bridge connects Old Town to New Town and allows only foot traffic. This makes it the perfect spot to leisurely admire its scenic setting and historic murals.
Chapel Bridge is located at the mouth of the Reuss River. Stand on one side of the bridge to look out over the river and turn to the other to admire Lake Lucerne. The vantage point is impressive from any angle: mountains tower behind the ancient city, their snow-capped peaks contrasting with the clear blue water of the lake. The scene is especially picturesque at sunset. Have your camera ready around dusk and find a spot along the railing before the bridge fills with other visitors.
With such striking scenery surrounding you, make sure you remember to look up. Chapel Bridge is famous for its vast collection of historic paintings tucked into the architecture. Dating back to the 17th century, the artwork displays scenes from Lucerne’s past. If you need a Swiss history lesson, don’t worry; explanations are printed beneath each painting.
The bridge leads to the Water Tower, an octagonal structure that had many uses throughout time, serving as a torture chamber and prison for centuries. Today, it is considered to be the symbol of Lucerne and houses a small gift shop.
In 1993, a fire tore across Chapel Bridge and destroyed two-thirds of the structure and many of the original paintings. The bridge was quickly restored to look exactly as it did in the 14th century. A number of the saved paintings were restored; be sure to keep your eye out for a few charred portraits as well, which historians left to remind visitors of the fire.