Luzern, Gletschergarten. Photo: TES.

The Glacier Garden

The Glacier Garden (Gletschergarten) of Lucerne was discovered in 1872 and showed and proofs the geological history of Lucerne (and Europe) of the past 20 million years. Lucerne was a subtropical bay surrounded by palm trees and other subtropical flora and fauna 20 million years ago.

The same environment was covered with 800 meters thick glaciers of the last Ice Age only 20 000 years ago.

The Glacier Garden brings this history back to life by a museum, garden, and a scientific explanation. The place was discovered when a wine cellar was excavated and soon opened as Glacier Garden in 1873.

Geologists from Zurich and Lucerne had recognised the relevance of the location and made the place a geological discovery of world-wide fame.

The museum shows the geological history through beautiful wall paintings, scientific explanations, photographs, and many visual works.

A surrealist painter succeeded in translating the ideas of the scholars into detailed and gripping atmospheric works of art of the world 20 million and 20 thousand years ago.

The development in Lucerne and the environment has been put into perspective and the broader context of the geological history and topography of the European continent.

It is difficult to imagine today, but Lucerne was seaside, and many marine fossils have been preserved in the rocks, including sharks and sea breams.

The difference could not be more striking 20 000 thousand years ago, a very long period for human standards, but insignificant when compared to the earth history of 4 600 million years.

The museum also shows beautiful reliefs of Central-Switzerland and the Central and Eastern Alps, the famous model of Lucerne in the year 1792, mountain cottages and typical Swiss houses and their interior from the 18th century and many other objects relating to the recent past of Lucerne (that is to say only a few hundred years ago).

The garden presents living proof of the last Ice Age and what it did to stone and how flora and fauna managed to survive.

The Glacier Garden is still expanding, and visitors can soon witness the rocks from inside by a system of tunnels.

(Source and further information: