Nightwatchman Walk

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

Next Tours

- 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

Public Walks in English
Every Tuesday from May to September 2016. 
CHF 25.- Adults
CHF 15.- Teenagers (13 - 19 years old)

Private Walks
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. The Nightwatchman 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 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 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.

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".

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.

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.

The Nightwatchman's Google My Maps

Short URL:

Hans of Trient, the unlucky stone mason

The story of what happened in Lucerne in May 1559.  It is about ...
- Hans von Trient the stone mason
- Lux Ritter, the major and mercenary leader
- The Ritterscher Palace in Lucerne

Before reading that please be informed that this is the story as it reads in the Wickiana by Johan Jakob Wick. Jakob Wick was a reformed Priest at the Grossmunster in Zurich. At that time Catholic Lucerne and Reformed Zurich were enemies and fought each other.
Nevertheless the Wickiana is a good and one of the only sources about Hans von Trient.

Ritterscher Palace and seat of the
government of the Canton Lucerne.

Schultheiss (mayor) Lux Ritter planned to build a huge palace. If god had not shorten his live and the house had not just been built up to a fathoms above the ground, there would be nothing comparable in the Confederation nor in the German nation.

Wherever Lux Ritter knew or heard of excellent craftsmen, he called them to work for him. So he also did not want to miss Hans von Trient, an outstanding stone mason.

Hans von Trient came to Lucerne to talk to Lux Ritter and to discuss the conditions. When everything seemed well Hans von Trient mentioned to Lux Ritter that he has another Religion and it could be dangerous for his live to come to catholic Lucerne. He said that he is forced to reject the offer.
Lux Ritter replied: Don’t worry. Be silent and don’t talk about your religion to others and no bad or disadvantage will happen to you.

So Hans agreed and they made a contract reading that he will get a salary consisting of:
- 4 crowns per week
- Eating and drinking at the table of Lux Ritter (!)
- Accommodation
- everything one needs for a daily life

Both were happy and Hans gladly started working.

Than it happened that Lux Ritter was called to arms by the French King. Lux told Hans to go ahead with the work, while he is away.

Lux needed someone to look after the house, since he had chased his wife off the house. So Lux asked Hans to look after the household during his absence. Lux Ritter offered to increase the salary by 2 crowns per week, for the time he is away.
Hans gladly agreed and continued his work. Lux went on to the Picardy war in France.

Lux came back 14 weeks later and the salary payment was due. At the same time the Musegg walls procession took place and a pastor from Hertenstein was in town. After the procession Lux Ritter invited the Pastor to have a meal. So Lux, the Priest and Hans had supper together.

When Lux had eaten and drunk well he started to provoke Hans.
He asked Hans to tell about his Religion. He also asked the priest to find out what kind of Religion Hans could have.
Hans said, that he is not here to dispute and that he has been promised to be left in freedom.
Lux Ritter got angry and after a good drink he said to the priest, that Hans has a heretical faith and that he does not confess and so on.
Afterwards Lux Ritter felt sorry, but he could not go back. He had to retain what he had said.

Then Hans von Trient got angry and asked for vacation and payment of the salary, which was due. Lux Ritter refused to pay the additional amount of 28 crowns arisen while he was away. Lux Ritter told Hans von Trient to be happy with what was agreed at the beginning. Hans von Trient did not want to hear anything like this and so they went to court.
(At that time the court and the council was the same)

When Hans had his claim on the council Lux Ritter stood up and accused him of being a heretic. Other council members nicely asked Lux Ritter to pay what is due and to let the craftsman go his way. But this was not meant to happen.

So the story went on. The council was forced to arrest Hans von Trient and to start investigations. Hans von Trient was put into prison in the Water Tower on the Chapel Bridge.

According to the Wickiana we (Lucerne) spread lies about Hans von Trient.
At the end Hans von Trient was found guilty and sentenced to death on Monday before White Sunday (in the year of 1559).

Hans praised the Lord and asked to bring new and pretty clothes to the Water Tower. And then he listened to the verdict nicely dressed in new clothes.

On the way to the execution place, passing by the house of Lux Ritter; Hans stood still, looked at the building and said:

Wickiana, Johann Jakob Wick

If I had not asked for what is mine
this would not have happened to me
Mayor Ritter is guilty of my death 
you will not finish this house
and in 3 days you will do likewise I do now

On the execution place the priests talked insistently to Hans von Trient but he did not listen to them.
Undaunted he looked around, kneed down, looked towards heaven and said:

Jesus of Nazareth
Have mercy on me
to your will I suffer this death

Then he stretched his head and it felt off.

Three days later Lux Ritter died. A strong fever overcame him.
He had eaten and drunk with no control.
and in his fullness and drunkenness he (and his boys) jumped into the cold water at the time of the early Mass.

Having come home he took a warm bath. After a while in the bathtub a strong fever overcame him and it looked like that he will die right away.
He became rigid and passed away seven hours later.

After his death Lux Ritter got fined by the council of Lucerne in the amont of 4 thousand crowns for having cut more wood than he was allowed to.

Wickiana (F12, 21-22a), Johann Jakob Wick.
Translated from old swiss german to english by Ralf Fioretti 26 August 2015.

Buy Postcards from Lucerne

I sell special postcards of good old Lucerne.
The price is one Franc per piece.
The Postcards can also be delivered to your Hotel in Lucerne just in time when you arrive.
For details please contact:

Postcard 1 - The Chapel Bridge, Joseph Clemens Kaufmann.


Postcard 2 - The Gates to the Hof Bridge and the Landing Pier, Xaver Schwegler.


Postcard 4 - The Town Hall and the Pfistern, Ulrich Gutersohn.


 Postcard 5 - The Noelli Tower, Joseph Clemens Kaufmann.


Postcard 6 - Right riverside, Joseph Clemens Kaufmann.


Postcard 7 - The Sonnenberg House, Ulrich Gutersohn.


Postcard 9 - From the Dance of Death, Jacob von Wyl.


Postcards & Art Walk of Lucerne

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Book with GetYourGuide

Private art city sightseeing walking tour through scenic Lucerne. Compact information about the attractions along the way, combined with exclusive Art Postcards of Lucerne. Inside visit of the Ritterschen Palace with presentation of the Renaissance Art Gallery “Dance of Death” by Jakob von Wyl.

  • Inside visit of the Ritterschen Palace with presentation of the 7 paintings of the “Dance of Death”. See the Video
  • 7 exclusive Art Postcards (not available elsewhere).
  • Stops en route with hand out of postcards and kept short descriptions of the paintings and artists.
  • The touristic attractions of Lucerne

To see the pictures on picasa - click here

Rates Private Walks
CHF 200.- Private Tour (up to 10 Persons)
CHF 10.- Each additional Person
CHF 50.- Hotel pick up

Duration and Length
Approx. 90 Minutes / approx. 1,5 km / > 1 mile

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

Walking Tour of Lucerne with multilingual speaking Local Guide, inside visit of the Ritterschen Palace to see the 7 "Dance of Death" Paintings of Jakob von Wyl, seven Postcards.

Not Included
Transfers to/from Meeting point.

Meet your Guide at Rosengartplatz / Rathausquai for a city sight seeing walking tour with emphasis on art. After a short overview your guide explains the route on behalf of the 400 years old Martini plan. You will be amazed to see how many building seen on the map are still existing today.

The Chapel Bridge, 1897,
Joseph C. Kaufmann (1867-1926)
May 2015

Your first postcard is titled the "Kapellbrücke" (Chapel Bridge) and shows the Bridge leading straight into the St. Peter's Chapel. It was painted by Joseph Clemens Kaufmann. In 1897 the bridge got shortened and the Rathausquai was built.
The scene could show a day in spring with some snowfall overnight. The sun is melting the snow as you can see from the sparkling gargoyle. It must be a rather warm day.

You walk around the corner and reach Kapellplatz. You stop in the middle of the place and watch towards the lake. You are handed out a postcard which shows the view as it looked up to 1835.

The Gates to the Hof Bridge
and pier around 1835, 

Xaver Schwegler (1832-1902) 
Mai 2015

In the foreground a Biedermeier couple is strolling into town. Behind them a peasant has a chat with the bridge guardian. The dog of the peasant leads the eye of the beholder to the Hof bridge, where you see a noble man enjoying the view and a boy is playing with a tire.

You walk into town to Kornmarkt and Weinmarkt with en route guiding along the way.
Have a cup of the best water of Lucerne before you continue to the Zöpfli located right on the river Reuss.

Das Sonnenberghaus, 1885,
Ulrich Gutersohn (1862-1946)
Mai 2015

Der Totentanz (Ausschnitt), 
Jakob von Wyl, (1486-1519)

Rathaus und Pfistern,
Ulrich Gutersohn (1862-1946)
Mai 2015

Rechtes Reussufer und Rathaus,
1901, J. C. Kaufmann (1867-1926)
Mai 2015

The Gates to the Hof Bridge and the landing pier (Xaver Schwegler)

" The gates to the Hofbrücke and the Schiffslände " was painted by Xaver Schwegler (1832-1902) by order of the Korporation der Stadt Luzern.
The painting shows the view from the Chapel square towards the lake as it looked shortly before 1835. That was the year when the wall and a part of the Hofbrücke were demolished.

The Gates to the Hofbruecke and the Schiffslaende - Xaver Schwegler
Wikimedia commons

On the right side you see the zur Gilgen House, built in the beginning of the 16th Century. The house you see on the left hand side is replaced by a newer house on the same place.

In between these two house there was a fortification wall with two gates:
The right one with the rounded arch led to the landing stage.
The left one with the pointed arch led to the Hof Bridge (Hofbrücke).

In the foreground you see a Biedermeier Couple strolling into town.
Behind them a farmer is chatting with the Bridge Guardian.
The farmer's dog watches onto the Hof Bridge and lead's the observer's eye to a man with frak and a boy with a wheel.
On the left you see a peddler presenting his ware to a maid.

Right river bank with City Hall (Joseph Clemens Kaufmann)

Rechtes Reussufer mit Rathaus
Right river bank with City Hall (Joseph Clemens Kaufmann) - Wikimedia Commons
This piece of art was painted by Joseph Clemens Kaufmann in 1901.
The artist was born 1867 in Horw (near Lucerne). He studied Art in Geneva and Paris and run a painter's studio in Lucerne. He also specialized in haunting and military paintings. 1916 he moved to Zurich, where he lived until his death 1926.

The "Right river bank with City Hall" was an order of the Korporation der Stadt Luzern. The artist was asked to paint the way it looked before the Rathaus Bridge and the Rathaus Quai were built, and so he did.

In the middle of the painting you see the Town Hall and the Tower. They were built in the early 17th Century. All the stone works of the town hall were manufactured by Italian masters and their crews in the style of the Renaissance. However the roof is typically swiss, actually bernese.
The Tower was there long before, but it was not that high. It was enlarged several times and got a red roof with a look-out and four oriels, from where tower guardians had to watch out to detect a possible fire.

On the river you see merchant boats and underneath the arcades of the town hall you see a colorful market. So it must be Tuesday or Saturday morning, because these are the days of the market in Lucerne, almost since ever.

The Chapel Bridge (Joseph Clemens Kaufmann)

The Lucerne artist Joseph Clemens Kaufmann painted this picture for the Korporation der Stadt Luzern.
Until 1897 the Chapel Bridge led directly to the St. Peter's Chapel and the street on the river bank did not yet exist.

Die Kapellbrücke
The Chapel Bridge - Joseph Clemens Kaufmann (1876-1926) - Wikimedia Commons

Around 1500 this was the only passage to get in or out of the city by boat. All the rest of the river was fortificated with palisade.
The Passage was guarded and equipped with portcullis.
Later the guardian’s pier was used by maids for washing.
You can see that also on the Martini plan.
In the years 1897-98 the Rathausquai street was built and the bridge got shortened by 18 meters.

I fell in love with the Martini Plan

The city of Lucerne has several very nice medieval maps. Among them is the Martiniplan of Lucerne, dated 1597. It is one of the best copper graving art work of that time.
Martini did not follow geometrical correctness. He changed the things in order to nicely present them. He has hidden some things and blowed up other things. The houses look a bit smaller, the roads and squares a bit bigger. On top of that he put live on the map by adding people to it. You can see Ladies with hats walking down the street and man with swords crossing the square.

Have a look at the Martiniplan on Wiki:

or download it as pdf (2,9MB) here: (2,9 MB)

Most probably you will be amazed about the precision of this masterpiece, at least I am.
Have a virtual city sightseeing tour of Lucerne. See the Musegg Walls, the Kapellplatz, the town hall and the market unter der egg, or watch inside the mills at the Spreuerbrücke.

P.S. Notes on the Martiniplan

 1. Gütsch
 2. Gütsch Tower
 3. Senti Gate, St. Antonius Church
 4. Pfründer Hospital and lower Languish House
 5. Municipal Wood House
 6. Municipal Hospital St. Jakob
 7. Crossbow and Shooting Club House und Kuzweil Square
 8. St. Anna Hospital
 9. Riflemen Club
10. Basler Gate, Custom House, Oat Tower
11. Municipal Smith House
12. Jew Tower, Grain Store
13. Arsenal
14. Pfistergasse
15. Bruchgasse
16. Bruchtor, Gasse um den Burggraben (heute Hirschengraben)
17. Kesselturm
18. Ketzerturm (
19. Obergrundstrasse
20. Krienser Gate
21. Inn zum Schlüssel
22. Bartüssergasse und Platz
23. Barefooter (Franciscan) Abbey and Church
24. Schmiedgasse
25. Burger Gate, Krienbach (Creek) und Brüggli
26. Münzgasse (Mint Lane)
27. Heiliggeistspital und Kirche (Holy Ghose Hospital and Church)
28. Jesuitenkirche und Kollegium (Jesuit Church and Convent)
29. Jesuitengymnasium, Gasse und Platz (Jesuit Gymnasium)
30. Kropfgasse und Tor
31. Frauenturm (Women Tower)
32. Freienhof
33. Kapellbrücke mit Wasserturm (Chapel Bridge with Water Tower)
34. St. Peterskapelle (St. Peters Chapel)
35. Zurgilgenhaus und Turm (Zurgilgen House and Tower)
36. Wyghaus des Klosters Engelberg
37. Herberge der römischen Kaiser und der österreichischen Fürsten
38. Rat- und Richthaus, darunter Korn-, Kaufhaus und Ankenmarkt
39. Eggstiege
40. Haus der Gesellschaft zu Pfistern, darunter Obstmarkt
41. Haus der Gesellschaft zu Schneidern
42. Markt an der Fischerstatt
43. Haus der Gesellschaft zu Schützen und zu Fritschi, darunter Metzg
44. Reussbrücke und Reussgässli
45. Kramgasse mit der Apotheke (Kramgasse and Pharmacy / Pillory)
46. Fisch- oder Weinmarkt
47. Kornmarkt
48. Furrengasse
49. Kapellgasse und Platz
50. Sust und Kornhaus
51. Hoftor, Aufgang zur Hofbrücke
52. Vordere Ledergasse und Ledertor (heute Gerbergasse)
53. Hintere Ledergasse und Ledertor
54. Rosengartenturm
55. Gasse unter den Bäumen, Schwesternhaus (heute Sternenplatz)
56. Weggistor, lnneres Weggistor oder schwarzer Turm
57. Grabengasse
58. Graggentor
59. Neuer Platz
60. Alter Rossmarkt
61. Mühlenplatz
62. Mühlentor
63. Harnischer- und Poliererhaus
64. Spreuerbrücke mit Mühlen und Schleife
65. Roter Turm mit Lindentor (heute Nölliturm)
66. Männliturm
67. Luegisland
68. Wacht- oder Heuturm
69. Zeitturm
70, Schirmertor
71. Pulverturm
72. Allenwindenturm
73. Dächliturm
74. Ausseres Weggistor
75. Weggisgasse (heute Hertensteinstrasse)
76. Löwengraben
77. Cysathaus und Kapelle
78. Mariahilfgasse
79. Seegraben
80. Hoftor in der Vorstadt
81. Stift St. Leodegar und Mauritius
82. Propstei
83. Leutpriesterei
84. Hofschule
85. St. Leonhardskapelle und Beinhaus
86. Tor zum Kirchhof
87. Predigerstatt, Platz unter den Linden
88. Hofgasse in der Vorstadt
89. St. Antonius Kapelle
90. Heiliges Kreuz
91. Kapuzinerkloster
92. Dietschiberg
93. Road to Einsiedeln
94. Jesuiter-Baumgarten
95. Municipal Boat House