Lucerne (German: Luzern), Switzerland, the capital of Lucerne canton. It lies in a mountainous setting on Lake Lucerne, 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Zürich, Switzerland's largest city. Lucerne is primarily a tourist center; it is also a commercial and industrial city.
The oldest section, called Old Town, dates from medieval times and contains distinctive old squares, streets, fountains, buildings, and bridges. A major landmark is Chapel Bridge, a covered bridge that was originally built in the 14th century but was completely rebuilt after a fire destroyed it in 1993. The Water Tower, which is adjacent to Chapel Bridge, is also a well-known landmark. The Lucerne International Festival of Music is a major attraction each summer. Also noteworthy are the Fine Arts Museum, the Swiss Transport Museum, and the huge Lion of Lucerne monument, honoring the Swiss guards who died defending Louis XVI during the storming of the Tuileries in Paris in 1792.
Lucerne began as a fishing village around a Benedictine monastery, founded in the eighth century. Later, it became a prosperous market and transit town on the route through the St. Gotthard Pass, opened in the 13th century. Lucerne joined the Swiss Confederation in 1332. During the Reformation it was the chief center of Catholic resistance in Switzerland. Lucerne was the seat of the central government during the Helvetic Republic, 1798-1803.