Today was a travel day as we moved from Zurich to Lucerne. Following breakfast, we used the few hours before leaving to visit the churches I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. None were open on Good Friday, but we found all of them open today. As you might imagine, there was no photography inside, so I can’t show any pictures.
The Chagall windows at the Fraumunster were well worth the effort of the ten minute walk in the rain. Each window has a color scheme–red for the prophets Elijah, Elisha and Jeremiah, blue for the scenes from Jacob’s life, Green for the images of Christ and the Holy Family, and yellow for the depiction of Christ’s return and the trumpets from Revelation. Only the fifth window repeats a color scheme, using blue for the presentation of the law and the scenes from Moses.
As you enter the church, on the top of the south wall is a rose window also done by Chagall in bright colors, also in the blue color theme.
From there we crossed to the Grossmunster, one of the famed mother churches of the Protestant Reformation. The largest of the three churches, we were surprised that the interior was smaller than expected. In true reformation fashion, the nave and chancel were unadorned. Beautiful frescoes along the chancel area wall, probably dating from the Catholic period, had been left to deteriorate most likely in response to the iconoclastic tradition of protestantism. Beautiful stained glass windows still adorn the chancel area as do a series of modern windows along the sides. While we visited in the church, a brass ensemble and the organist were practicing for the Easter services in the balcony above the nave. The sounds of the music, a Bach piece I imagined, gave a special atmosphere to the grand old church during our visit there.
Since St. Peter’s main claim to fame is its clock, we didn’t visit the interior of that church and walked back to the hotel to avoid more of the rain and cold. Today was not the kind of day we wanted to have on any day during the tour–cold, rainy, miserable weather.
Our bus trip to Lucerne, even in the rain however, was very nice. Our driver took us through several small, quaint mountain villages that gave us a feel of genuine Swiss life. We traveled along winding hills and green farmlands that were absolutely beautiful. Regretfully, I couldn’t get any pictures due to the pouring rain. Switzerland was for many years an agrarian economy and you can certainly see the remnants of that early life as you travel there. Many farm houses were built connected to the barn in earlier times and the warmth of the animals helped to heat the house. We saw several of these farm houses still in existence.
The country’s name is actually connected to this agricultural period in its history. Switzerland was once ruled by the Hapsburg’s. The members of this noble family called the people of that region “swiss,” from a German word meaning sweat. Apparently the farmers were not very conscious of hygiene then and had a very distinctive smell about them. Today there is only 70,000 farms left in Switzerland, however. They had over 400,000 in the mid 1960s. Yet, the country still produces some of the finest milk in Europe, one of the reasons for their excellent chocolates and cheeses.
On our way to Lucerne, we traveled through the part of the country that served as the setting for the children’s novel, Heidi. Johanna Spryi, the author who wrote that novel in four weeks grew up in one of the villages we passed through.The steep hillsides with the rich green grass sloping down into picturesque glacial lakes made me think of that story even before the guide told us where we were.
We learned that Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons, much like our states, yet more autonomous. The different cantons control the taxes, the police and most of the government functions for a particular area. There is a central government, but most major decisions must be voted on by all of the citizens. It is one of the most democratic countries in the world!
After a stop in one of the little villages for some treats–Switzerland is still a country of many very small communities and only a few large cities–we drove an additional thirty minutes so that we could arrive in Lucerne by boat. Since it was still raining when we arrived at the boat, most of our party remained inside the shelter of the boat rather than brave the weather from the upper, uncovered deck. I chose the outside at least for awhile and have a few pictures of our day that I will share with you in this blog. Tomorrow, with a little better weather predicted, I hope to have some nicer images of the area.