Nightwatchman Walk

Reserve by mail 

Historic city sightseeing theme walk focussing on medieval Lucerne and the Swiss Confederation from the 12th to the 18th century.

Next Public Nightwatchman Walks

- The attractions of the historic city centre
- Lucerne in the middle ages
- Medieval law and order
- The Dance of Death by Jakob von Wyl
- Pictures presented on Paper, iPad and Projector

Prices Public Tours
CHF 25.- Adults
CHF 15.- Teenagers (13 - 19 years old)

Prices Private Tours
Request by mail ( or book with Tripadvisor or GetYourGuide with instant confirmation. 
CHF 200.- Private Tour (up to 10 Persons)
CHF 10.- Each additional Person

Duration and Length
Approx. 90 Minutes / approx. 1,6 km / 1 mile

Meeting Point
Rathausquai/Rosengartplatz next to the Chapel Bridge, right-hand riverside

Walking Tour with english speaking Local Guide, media presentation

Not Included
Transfers to/from Meeting point

The tour starts with the fire horn followed by the Nightwatchman call. Here you go. Nightwatchman Ralf introduces himself and tells you about his live in the middle ages.

You see the Martiniplan, a 400 years old city map and you hear from Martin Martini the genius copper engraver, counterfeiter and loudmouth.

The Martini Plan of 1597
The Night Watchman shows you tonight's walking route on the Martini map. He also tells you about the main city buildings and the fortification of Old Lucerne. You will discover that many of the buildings have been well kept over the centuries and still attract the Lucerne visitor of today.

The Kapellbrücke, 1897
The most photographed attraction in Switzerland is the Water Tower, which was built a few decades before the wooden Chapel Bridge.
You get to know about the inside of the Water Tower, the torture chamber, the dungeon and the secret room.

The Toggeli (The Nightmare)
A few steps around the corner, you hear about living in the blooming Republic of Lucerne.

Walking through the Furrengasse you learn about its Ghost and the Toggelis around him.

On Kornmarkt you see the Lucerne Foot and Elle on the wall of the Town Hall. You hear the story of the "Giant of Reiden".

The Riot of Lucerne
In the Brandgässli Alley you get to know about the Riot of Lucerne before you reach the lower wine market, where once the pillory was located.

You continue to the Zöpfli, where the Nightwatchman introduces you to medieval law and order. Learn about medieval prosecution, interrogation methods, corporal punishment and death penalties.

Then you cross the Reussbrücke, pass the house of the "Swiss King", walk by the former pawn shop and the mint house to the Alte Suidtersche Apotheke. There you see the window of the medieval pharmacy.

A few steps further you see the legendary house of Lux Ritter and you may ask yourself why the first two floors look different than the third floor. The Nightwatchman knows. Listen to the story of the unlucky mason of Hans von Trient, also known as Giovanni Lynzo.

One of tonight's highlight is the Dance of Death, an art piece of seven paintings created by Jakob von Wyl. See the pictures and listen to what the Nightwatchman has to tell you about it.

The Dance of the Dead by Jacob von Wyl, Panel 2.
You continue upriver and pass the Jesuitenkirche. You see the town hall from another point of view, while the Night Watchman tells you about the special feature on the architecture of that Renaissance building.

You cross the Chapel Bridge to the starting point, where you hear from the warfare and some of the wars of the Swiss Confederation and where the tour ends.

More information
The tour is presented audio-visually in words and pictures.
In addition you have the possibility to follow the tour pictures on your own mobile device.
Most of the route is cobblestoned.
The tour is wheelchair accessible.

Ritterscher Palace Lucerne

The Ritterscher Palace is probably the most impresssive Renaissance Palace of old Lucerne and was commissioned in 1556 by Mayor Lux Ritter.

Ritterscher Palace Luzern

Lux Ritter got very rich with mercenary and intended to build a house in the style of the Florentine Renaissance with heavy blocks and nice stone masonry work.

This style was already 100 years old in Florence, but it was new for Lucerne. Lux Ritter attracted crowds of builders from the South, who built an incomparable
house that is preserved for centuries.

Lucerne had no more than 5,000 inhabitants at that thime and most of the houses were made of wood. There were only a few private stone houses, such as the still existing Zur Gilgen House or the long-demolished Hertenstein House, which was decorated with frescoes by Hans Holbein.

A widely famous stonemason of this time was Giovanni Lyn, aka Hans of Trient. He was reluctant to get engaged by Lux Ritter. His fervid faith, however, became a disaster for him. He was accused of heresy, found guilty, and beheaded.

On the day of his execution Hans von Trient accursed Lux Ritter. A few days later, coincidence or not, Lux Ritter died.
(For further information read the story of Hans of Trient from the Wickiana).

At that time the three-storey palace with an open courtyard was completed by about two-thirds. The heirs of Lux Ritter were not able to carry on the construction. The house was taken over by the city of Lucerne and finished.

Then the time of Ludwig Pfyffer of Althishofen had come. He became the most powerful man of Lucerne. He ruled like a prince and was given the nick name "Swiss King."

In 1578, Ludwig Pfyffer of Altishofen handed over the building to the Jesuits, whom he had called to Lucerne. They built a church on the ground floor, as you can see on the Martiniplan.
Later this church was given up for the Jesuit Church. On the copper engraving of Martin Martini you can also see, that courtyard was open to the south at that time.

Martini Plan 1597, section with Ritterscher Palace.

Schumacherplan_1790_section_with_Ritterscher_Palace_and Jesuit_Church_of_1677
Schumacherplan 1790, section with Ritterscher Palace and Jesuit Church of 1677.

After the Sonderbundskrieg of 1847 (Reformation War), the Jesuits were exiled from Lucerne and Switzerland. Everything in Lucerne that belonged to the Jesuits fell to the Canton of Lucerne. Thus the Ritterscher Palace turned into the Cantonal Government Building of the Canton of Luzern.

Ritterscher Palace with attached parliament building and covered courtyard - © google maps
Ritterscher Palace with attached parliament building and covered courtyard - © google maps

Main Gate
On the second floor of the building the Dance of the Dead paintings by Jakob von Wyl are exhibited.

Generally speaking the building is open to the public from Monday to Friday. However it can be closed anytime for governmental events or state receptions. The admission is free.

When you visit the building, please respect the fact that behind the doors in the inner courtyard there are offices of the Cantonal Administration, where people are working. Please don't be loud.

For a guided tour including an inside visit to the Ritterscher Palace please refer to nightwatchman's medieval city walk. (seasonal regular tour)

The best water of Lucerne

Historical Center - my maps
The best water in Lucerne can be drunk at the fountains of the historical center. Unlike the houses and hotels of Lucerne, the fountains of the historical centre are not fed by pressure pipes, but have their own water supply, which originates in the Middle Ages.

The first fountains of the city of Lucerne were located at the Fischmarkt square (now Weinmarkt), today's Hirschenplatz, at the junction Eisengasse / Schlossergasse and on today's Hertensteinstrasse next to the Restaurant Einhorn.

Wooden fountain on the Weinmarkt, 1332
Maybe the first but for sure the finest fountain of the city of Lucerne is located on the Weinmarkt.
As early as 1332 when Lucerne got part of the Swiss Confederation, a fountain made of wood stood at the Weinmarkt, as you can see on the image of the Diebold Schilling Chronicle on the left.

The stone fountain at the Weinmarkt, as seen today, was completed in 1494 by master Konrad Lux ​​from Basel. For this art work he was granted the citizien ship of the City of Lucerne. The original well stock is now exhibited in the historical museum. On the Weinmarkt itself there is a true copy of the work. At the top of the well stands the town patron Saint Mauritius. The six armored warriors show a military demonstration, which took place in old Lucerne in autumn and during the Carnival period. Every citizen of the city of Lucerne had to have weapons and harnesses and show them twice a year in a weapon inspection.


The drinking water for the households, hotels and all buildings of the city of Lucerne comes from two pressure pipes which are fed from a mixture of lake water, ground water and spring water. The quality of the Lucerne Water is very good.

But the water of the fountains in the historical center is even better. It consists of pure spring water, which originates from far above the Pilatus near the legendary Pilatussee lake. Already in the Middle Ages the Pilatus spring water was led along the Krienbach crest, under the Reussbrücke bridge, to the old town.

Zurich_drew_water_from_the_river_Limmat_Scene_Collapse_of_the_upper_bridge_in_Zurich_1566_ Wickiana
Zurich drew water from the river 1566
While other cities like Zurich drew water from the lake and river, we in Lucerne enjoyed pure spring water.

Lucerne's fountain water can easily match the quality of an Evian or San Pellegrino. Further it does not have to be carted from far away. The transport routes are short and environmentally friendly.

Another quality feature is the silence of our fountain water, which does not need a pressure line. Water enthusiasts say you should drink the water when it is quiet. At the Lucerne Fountains, you can drink silent water and let this calmness and balance flow into you.

The free drinking water of Lucerne fountains is an invaluable asset which must be preserved and protected. Water should not be commercialized. Unfortunately this is not the case everywhere.
Therefore: Support the Lucerne non-profit company, which stands for free access to drinking water.