Climbing the Old City Walls of Lucerne

City Walls, Lucerne

Built in 1386 the old city walls of Lucerne provide a glimpse into the city’s past. Looking out beyond the walls into the suburbs it’s hard to believe that hundreds of years ago there was simply nothing there but fields. A large section of the walls is open to the public for free, with 3 of the intact towers available to climb. Having done a bit of research beforehand we knew to skip the first tower – the best views were to be had at the final stop atop the Männli Tower. But we found the most intriguing aspect of the walls inside the Zyt Tower.

Zyt Tower

Clock Shadow, City Walls, Lucerne

The clock on the front of the Zyt Tower was installed in 1535 and is still working to this very day. It was designed to such a size that it could be seen by fishermen plying their trade out on Lake Lucerne.

Upon entering the tower you’ll see many cogs and gears, and you might think it’s just a simple exhibition. I certainly did, although I couldn’t read any of the placards that were written exclusively in German. However as I climbed the stairs to the top of the tower I noticed that the mechanisms across the different floors of the tower were connected, and continued right up to the hands of the famous clock. It was fascinating to watch it ticking over. Bizarrely this clock strikes the hour one minute before that of the city hall. I have no idea why – if you do then please let me know!

Männli Tower


At 33m tall the Männli Tower is the tallest of the accessible towers and provides an unobscured view over the city of Lucerne. It’s a fairly steep climb on some uneven staircases, but definitely worth the effort. Once we reached the top I tried to imagine myself as a city guard on lookout duty many hundreds of years ago. It must have been hard not to be distracted by the wonderful view! I spent a while at the top trying to get the best angles, until my ever patient better half decided she’d had enough and we descended to continue our sightseeing tour of Lucerne.

Have you visited Lucerne? Planning a trip to Switzerland? Let me know your thoughts!

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