Lucerne – Kapellplatz / St. Peter’s Chapel (Peterskapelle)

As its name suggests, Kapellplatz (Chapel Square) is located at the end of the famous covered bridge (Kapellbrücke). It is on this square that this chapel is located. St.Peter’s Chapel (Peterskapelle) has seen the city metamorphose over the centuries. The first reference to this place of worship dates back to the year 1178. It should be remembered that the fortification stone wall was not erected at that time.

Despite its fame, its history and its references, the chapel is somewhat unnoticed by its neutral colors and its low profile which camouflages itself in a vibrant environment.

It has certainly been given new strong pillars and vitality over the years. It is, after all, in the heart of the city and aims to be a religious center but it is even more recognized for a unifying meeting place for the community.

It is probably a challenge for this place of retreat to be next to so many flamboyant activities. Indeed, on the square is the Fritschi fountain (Fritschibrunnen).  We must not trust the year of creation of the fountain, 1918, but its legend about Fritschi, which dates back around the year 1450, and its annual ritual which remains a tradition of the city: the Lucerne Carnival.

In this section of town, there is an obvious tribute to Fritschi and his family. The fountain shows the fun and colorful side of the characters. A nearby restaurant also bears this name and, in addition, the city’s annual carnival makes him its focal point. The background of the character itself is difficult to confirm and the real existence of the person is sometimes even questioned. Some attach a character invented to celebrate the end of winter and the imminent arrival of spring. All those living in an environment with cold winters are wishing for the end and the return of the warm summer months. Others attach some historical events and people to it.

The link with Fritschi and the carnival would date back to the year 1443. Fritschi translates to Fridolin, who was historically defined as a funny man, a good living person and therefore, reflecting the image of a carnival. Saint Fridolin, associated with March 6, was a Christian missionary of Irish origin who traveled through part of Europe to found churches and monasteries in France, Germany and Switzerland and whose death occurred in the year 542. An important battle of Ragaz ended on March 6 of the year 1446, the day of Saint Fridolin. Quite a coincidence!

Other sources reinforce the idea that Fridolin was really a peasant from a neighboring town whose annual visit to the village was a sign of receptions, follies and jokes sharing his good humor and good food with others. A heritage was left to the Guild of Safran asking to have a traditional festival in the city in his memory which could be at the origin of this great carnival.

Some imply that the Fritschi brother would even be buried under the fountain. The parade route, organized by the Safran Guild, includes three laps around the fountain and the distribution of oranges for all.

Since the Christian celebrations take place around the same period, the festivities are according to the Easter calendar and spread over several days.

The carnival kicks off at 5:00 a.m. and for the next few days, parades of incredibly costumed characters in wacky or sometimes even somewhat spooky cartoonish style roam the city streets with marching bands. The festive atmosphere is at its best.

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