The Chapel Bridge, Lucerne. Photo: TES.

The Chapel Bridge Lucerne

The Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) was built in 1365 as part of the fortifications of the city. This fortified bridge had a raised parapet and it blocked the free access for ships to the lake.

In addition, the Spreuer Bridge and the Musegg wall with ten towers were built. In the following decades, the fortification was continuously expanded and was to reach its maximum extent around 1400. Lucerne had good reasons to expand its fortifications defense system at that time.

The city faced three rulers or alliances: Habsburg, the (always complicated) Swiss federal alliances and towns and the Swabian/Constanzer League of Towns (Städtebund).

Lucerne belonged to all three:  Habsburg was the lord, but with his approval, Lucerne had also joined the Swiss Confederation in 1332 and in 1385 the Constance Confederation (union of the Rhenish and Swabian League of Towns).

Lucerne wanted to defend itself against Habsburg’s desire to expand, but the city (and other Swiss Eidgenossen) attacked Habsburg instead.

That provoked the Sempacher War in 1386. Subsequently, Lucerne became a territorial ruler itself. The panels of the Chapel Bridge, inserted in the 17th century, depict scenes of this history. (Source: B. Schumacher, Kleine Geschichte der Stadt Luzern, Baden, 2015).