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Lucerne, located in the central part of the country, is one of Switzerland's 26 cantons. The canton is surrounded by Obwalden and Nidwalden to the south, Schwyz and Zug to the east, Aargau to the north, and Berne to the west. Lucerne is geographically situated in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, with the highest peak within its territory being Brienzer Rothorn. One of the predominant nature areas in Lucerne is the Entlebuch landscape, found at the southern borders of the territory. UNESCO protects Entlebuch for its considerable variability of habitats. Some of the predominant biospheres in the region are karsts and moorlands. Lucerne's capital, also named Lucerne, is situated at the shores of Lake Lucerne, which is the most extensive water surface protruding to the canton's territory. The city is often regarded as a gateway to Central Switzerland, and it also offers a considerable number of historical and cultural landmarks. Presumably, the Chapel Bridge, with its Water Tower and the Lion Monument, is considered to be the most notable landmark in the region.
The namesake of the canton is its capital city, which is also called Lucerne. Due to its location within Switzerland, the city is often regarded as a "gateway" to central Switzerland. Lying on the shores of Lake Lucerne, the city is embedded in the "mountainous panorama." Beyond the water activities available on the lake itself, the city is also a starting point for several hiking trails and excursions. Located within the cantons' borders are mountains Pilatus and Rigi, which can be reached from the city of Lucerne. However, nature tours and excursions aren't the sole draws to the city of Lucerne. There are also several historical and cultural landmarks in the city. The Chapel Bridge, with its Water Tower, might be considered the city's unofficial symbol. Reportedly, the world-famous timber bridge is Lucerne's most photographed destination. The building was constructed 650 years ago and currently still contains numerous paintings from that time that can still be seen at the bridge. The paintings are said to reflect the good fortune and accomplishments of the Old Swiss Confederacy. The city has other historical landmarks besides the bridge, such as the Church of St. Leodegar, the Franciscan Church, the Jesuit Church, the Old Town Squares, and the Town Hall. Another world-famous landmark of Lucerne is the Lion Monument or the "Lion of Lucerne." Estimated to be visited by 1.4 million people every year, the lion sculpture carved in stone commemorates 1,000 Swiss guardsmen protecting the life of King Louis XVI of France in 1792.
One of the relatively extensive preserved nature areas in the Lucerne territory is the Entlebuch landscape protected by UNESCO. The local area is composed of moorland, karst, and rivers. Beyond the natural wonders and an abundance of walking, hiking, and cycling trails, the region is known to entail several historical villages. Some of them, namely Heiligkreuz, Escholzmatt, and Marbach, are also listed in the Federal Inventory of Heritage Sites of National Importance. One of the predominant landmarks is the Pilgrimage Church of Heiligkreuz, built in the 15th century. Another historical sight, Lourdes Grotto, can be seen near the village of Marbach. The architecture of Entlebuch houses can also be considered quite unique. There are several historic circular trails through the villages, for visitors to see and experience the lifestyle and architecture, which is typical of houses with wooden shingle facades in the area.
Lucerne canton is found in the central part of Switzerland, stretching at the northern foothills of the Swiss Alps. The highest point within the territory is the Brienzer Rothorn, which has an altitude of 2,350 m above sea level. Despite being part of Central Switzerland, Lucerne's landscape is often hilly and consists of numerous plains. Some examples of Lucerne's hilly landscape are the Lucerne Hinterland, found in the northwestern part of the canton, or the Entlebuch and the Gäu around Lake Sempach. The southern and eastern parts of the territory consist of the alpine regions of Brienzer Rothorn, the Pilatus Massif, and the Rigi Massif. In terms of nature, over half of Lucerne's landscape is used for agriculture, while approximately 30% is forested. There are several predominant water areas within Lucerne's borders, namely the lakes Sempach and Baldegg. However, the largest water area protruding to the canton's territory is Lake Lucerne, on which shores the city of Lucerne stands.
The Biosphere Entlebuch, a UNESCO-protected Regional Nature Park, can be found within Lucerne's borders. The nature park protects moors and moorlands, 46 raised bogs and transitional bogs, as well as 68 fens of national importance. Another predominant landscape includes the karst formations, also found in the territory. Reportedly the most "striking" of the mountains in the karst biosphere is Schratteflue, resembling a stony desert. Concerning the plants and animals inhabiting the land of the Entlebuch Biosphere, there is a relatively high diversity of species found in the territory due to the variability of landscapes. Alpine ibex, chamois, yellow-billed chough, and golden eagle are a few of the numerous animal species in the Entlebuch. From plants, there can be found marsh orchids, vanilla orchids, mountain cowslips, alpenroses, blue gentians, and edelweisses, to name a few.
Lucerne canton has several different microclimates. The northern part of the canton typically receives less rain than, for example, the Napfbergland or the Pilatus area. On the other hand, the site at the foothills of the Rigi has acceptable conditions for growing tropical fruits and palm trees. The warmest month in Lucerne is reported to be July, with an average daily temperature of 22°C. January is said to be the coldest month due to its average temperature of 3°C. With an average of 70 mm of rainfall, February tends to be the driest month in Lucerne. The most precipitation falls during July, as the month receives about 149 mm on average.
The earliest traces of human inhabitance of Lucerne canton were found in the Steigelfadbalm cave on Mt. Rigi, dating back to the Middle Paleolithic Age, approximately 30,000 BC. Beyond that, prehistoric bones of mammoths, reindeer, and giant deer were exposed after glaciers disappeared from the Swiss plateau. Consequently, settlements from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic eras have been discovered in excavation sites of Wauwilermoos in Egolzwil, Seematte at Hitzkirch, and Halbinsel in Sursee. These excavations are part of the protection area "Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps," which UNESCO preserves as a World Heritage Site. Additionally, there have been items found from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman era in the territory.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Germanic tribes took over the rule of central Switzerland in the 6th century, forming the first monasteries. Luceria, which later developed into the city of Lucerne, was established in 750. During the 13th century, Lucerne became an Austrian country town under the influence of Habsburg rule. However, in the following century, the city allied with regions of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, which helped Lucerne be liberated from Habsburg rule. The area gained full independence from the Habsburgs in the Battle of Sempach in 1386. Since then, Lucerne's borders have roughly stayed the same. After the French invasion, the canton lost its independence for another period in 1798. At that time, Lucerne was part of the Helvetic Republic, a sister republic of France constituting of occupied Old Swiss Confederacy. After freeing Swiss lands in 1803, Lucerne regained its status as an independent canton. Lucerne entered the Swiss Confederation as a full member in 1848.
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