Originally published in Global Traveler.
Lucerne thrives on tourism. British expatriate and author Diccon Bewes, who focuses his literary efforts on his adopted homeland, calls Lucerne Switzerland’s prettiest city. So it’s no wonder throngs of Japanese, Chinese, European and North American tourists funnel out of tour buses and onto the cobblestone streets of Lucerne with their cameras armed and ready.
Lucerne’s history is firmly Swiss with a relatively orderly past — compared to the rest of Europe — after the fall of the Roman Empire in the early sixth century. By the middle of the ninth century, the area became known as Luciaria as Germanic Alemannic peoples planted roots. Lucerne asserted its independence in 1178, declaring a city proper shortly thereafter. Owing to its economically strategic location on the Gotthard trade route, Lucerne grew into a selfsufficient city by the end of the 13th century. Around this time, King Rudolph I von Habsburg of Austria pushed into the region, and Lucerne allied with surrounding towns to strive for independence in the form of a Swiss Confederacy known as Eidgenossenschaft. Continue reading