Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Honeymoon's over (as far as the blog's concerned)

So here we are at last, just one month shy of our first year anniversary (zomg!) and it's my official last post of the honeymoon. For our anniversary we're off to Georgia (the country) and I'm crossing my fingers to manage to blog it live(ish) as we go.

Our last honeymoon activity (besides driving home) was a walk on the Museggmauer, the 14th century city wall which offers beautiful panoramic views of the city. Four of the nine towers on the wall are open to visitors in summer, and they're free! (Who said Switzerland was expensive?)

Jules in front of the Zytturm (clock tower). It houses Lucerne's oldest city clock, built in 1535. My favourite fact about the Zytturm clock is that it has the "right" to chime one minute before all other public clocks in Lucerne. I'm not sure whether it goes early or the others go late, but either way, it seems prestige counts for more than accuracy in this corner of Switzerland. 
The clock's so impressive it needs a pair of giants to hold it up. It was made to be large enough for even the fishermen on the lake to read the time

View from the Zytturm on the wall below
Jules being manly at the Männliturm

The views from the 33 metre-high Männliturm are SPECTACULAR. There was a wee bit of waiting around at the top as people lined up to take the best selfies, but it's well worth it.

The Männliturm from outside
The Schirmerturm, dating to 1420, traditionally marked the entrance to the city from the surrounding countryside. It also has some lovely views.

It was mid-October by this time, still beautiful, warm and sunny as you can see, but with autumn foliage appearing

The Watchtower or Heu (Hay) Tower was formerly used to store gunpowder. Disaster struck (literally) in 1701 when the tower was hit by lightening, causing the gunpowder to explode and rain chunks of stone on to the city below, causing considerable damage and some loss of life. 

Apart from the exploding tower, a fabulous end to a fantastic trip. I couldn't have asked for a better honeymoon, nor, of course, a better husband to share it with 😍

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Dance of Death on the Spreuerbücke, Lucerne

So forget about the Kapellbrücke from last time. Now we get to my favourite bridge, the Spreuer Bridge. Apart from not being mostly burnt down (sob), the Spreuer shines for its cool 17th century images of the Danse macabre (Totentanz in German) and its lovely sight lines. We visited it first by day, and luckily enough, walked past it by chance at night as well. I definitely recommend a night visit. It looks great lit up in the darkness and you may have the bridge virtually to yourself.

The Spreuer bridge is younger than the Kapellbrücke, but not by much. It was originally built in the 13th century, but rebuilt in the 16th after a flood. I thought memento mori was pretty much a medieval thing, but apparently it was still going strong in Switzerland into the 17th century. A 19th-century book on the bridge (my source for translations all of the painting captions below) explains that they originally planned "scenes with a merry meaning" but changed course after "the country was visited soon afterwards by heavy calamities, as war and pestilence". Just when you think you would need cheering up! 45 of the paintings still exist out of the original 67, making it the largest known Totentanz cycle in existence. I think I took photos of all of them!

Jules standing under the first picture of the cycle "Dance at the cemetary"

Arches leading to the bridge

The Resurrection of Death: "Upon Ezekiel did light break/And he unto the truth did wake/How by the Spirit of God, dead men,/With living flesh, are clothed again"
The Dying Woman: "Death contemplated oft have I,/By day and night, my life long nigh;/No heed I give him in this hour,/Yet cometh he in all his power"
The Child: "So soon a child is born, its cry/Is woe, its first plaint too a sigh./Its message thus the world does send,/That every hour a life should end."

The Bishop: "A consecrated Bishop, I,/Yet Death cannot elude thereby./He taketh mitre, breaketh stave,/And casteth me in the cold grave"
The Duke: "Of princely blood, a Duke serene,/With courage high, and of haughty mien,/Still bold and young, of joyous grace,/Death taketh me in his embrace."
The Gardener: "If kindly Nature help not art,/Planting be useless, leave thy part./For how wilt to the flowers restore/That life, which I from thee take o'er?"
The Duchess: "A woman fair, my tender frame/I keep, till cruel Death the same/From me doth drive, just as the blast/The beauteous rose to Earth doth cast"

The Soldier: "Courage, good soldier! Parry well./Have care no wound my weapon fell/Imbued with serpent venom make./Must die if struck. Thy life I take."

The Countess: "Hold Coachman! Spare me yet I pray,/Am not prepared, go not today./My lady Countess, Death am I,/Say me no word, away I hie."

The Dying Monk: "Beloved brethren, hasten all/The De Profundis doth ye call,/Death's anguish doth oppress me sore,/My cowl and sleeves are wide no more."

The Prioress: "Lady Prioress, thy life is o'er./Of Heaven is open wide the door./Draw off thy spotless veil, prepare/With me the moudly grave to share."
The Abbess: "Jesu Maria! What neareth me?/Death I did not expect to see./Must it come now, my final doom,/To Jesus I go, my bridegroom."
The Queen: "Where is my King, my kingdom court?/Who fighteth for me, aideth ought?/As Death doth strike, my heart doth bleed./Each turneth from me in my need."

The Abbot: "Once of the Convent I was Prior;/Now Abbot, Primate, rise I higher./Go age and honour hand in hand,/Doth ebb the last dread hour's sand."

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The Kapellbrücke, Lucerne

I may be a little bit too into this bridge, but what a bridge it is. The Kapellbrücke is a covered wooden footbridge across the river Reuss which dates back to the 1300s. It's the oldest covered bridge surviving in Europe and the oldest truss bridge in the world (I'm going to pretend I know what that means and move on). What makes it particularly special, however, is the 17th century paintings which grace the inside of the bridge, depicting events from Lucerne's history and that of its patron saints. The sad part is that the bridge was set on fire in 1993, thanks I believe to a particularly crappy smoker. You can see a short video of the bridge on fire and in the immediate aftermath here.

The bridge was subsequently restored, but two thirds of the original paintings were lost. Only 47 survived out of the original 158 (down to 147 by the time of the fire), and only 30 have been fully restored. It's sad to see something like this destroyed, but it still stands as a unique feature of Lucerne today.

The fire-damaged portion of the bridge remains as a memorial

According to Wikipedia, this depicts a "local slaying"
I presume this is from one of the saint's lives, since the decapitated head on the ground appears to have a halo on it. Not sure if the demon is carrying the slayer away or egging him on

"But Gwan," I hear you cry, "there are two famous bridges in Lucerne!" Never fear, gentle readers, I will tell you all about the even more awesome Spreuerbrücke in our next exciting installment.