|Lucerne : The south bank|
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On the south bank of the Reuss is a triangular area known as the Kleinstadt, originally walled. Facing Unter der Egg is the huge Jesuitenkirche, dominating the riverside with its twin onion-domed towers. Completed in 1673, its astonishing interior is a frothy Rococo concoction of gilt stucco and marble. Among the profusion of frescoes is one on the ceiling that, intriguingly, depicts the church exterior as it was 300 years ago. A few steps west is the Rittersche palace, built in 1557 in Florentine Renaissance style as a private mansion but now the seat of Luzern’s cantonal government. Behind it to the south is the Franziskanerkirche (Franciscan Church), the oldest building in Luzern, dating from 1270, though it has been much restored over the centuries. It’s unusually richly decorated for a Franciscan church, with Renaissance choir stalls and battle standards lining the walls – copies of those looted from battlefields through the centuries. A marvellous Baroque side chapel is decorated with Italianate stucco and a host of kitschy, curly-haired angels.
Peaceful Pfistergasse curves to meet the south side of the Spreuerbrücke, where you’ll also spot the stout old town arsenal, now home to the Historisches Museum (Tues–Fri 10am–noon & 2–5pm, Sat & Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.4; SMP; www.hmluzern.ch), filled with arms and armour, restored interiors, costumes and crafts telling the history of Luzern and the surrounding districts, unfortunately with notes in German only.
Due for reopening in 2000, Luzern’s Kunstmuseum is right beside the station at Robert-Zünd Strasse 1, with plenty of works from Swiss artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as collections covering modernism and contemporary art.
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