Bridge in Lucerne

Luzern Spreuerbrücke
CC BY-SA 3.0 / ermell

Completed in 1408 as an integral part of the city’s fortifications, the Spreuer Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland, stands as one of the two remaining covered wooden footbridges in the city, alongside the Kapellbrücke. An additional similar bridge, the Hofbrücke, once existed but was dismantled in the 19th century.

Originally constructed in the 13th century to link the Mühlenplatz (Mill Place) on the right bank of the Reuss with the central river mills, the bridge’s extension to the left bank was finalized around 1408. It earned its name, Spreuer Bridge, due to the allowance of discarding chaff (known as “Spreu” in German) and leaves into the river, as it was the lowest point on the river. After being destroyed by a flood in 1566, it was reconstructed, accompanied by a granary known as the Herrenkeller, as part of the bridge head.

The Spreuer Bridge showcases unique interior triangular frame paintings on its pediments, a distinctive feature of Lucerne’s wooden bridges. Specifically, the paintings depict a Danse Macabre, referred to as Totentanz in German, and were created between 1616 and 1637 under the direction of the painter Kaspar Meglinger. This Totentanz cycle, the most extensive known, encompasses 67 original paintings, of which 45 remain intact. Each painting often features the donor’s coat of arms on the lower left and the donor’s wife’s coat of arms on the right. These paintings are set within black wooden frames, accompanied by verse explanations and donor names. Additionally, portraits of donors and notable figures from Lucerne society are incorporated. Lucerne’s painters were acquainted with woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger, yet they showcased a more advanced painting technique. The Lucerne Danse Macabre paintings and accompanying text aim to underscore the omnipresence of death, whether in the city, the countryside, or at sea.

The Spreuerbrücke appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Lucerne!

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Visiting Spreuerbrücke

Address: Spreuer Bridge, Spreuerbrücke, Lucerne, Switzerland
Duration: 20 minutes

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