Lucerne (usu. Loo-sern'; Ger. Luzern), the capital of a Swiss canton, 59 miles SE. of Basel, 147 SSE. of Strasburg, and 177 NNW. of Milan by the St Gothard railway. It is beautifully situated where the Reuss issues from the Lake of Lucerne, opposite Mount Pilatus, and is partly surrounded (on the north) with mediaeval towers. On a rock in the Reuss is an old tower, said to have been a lighthouse (lucerna) in Roman times, whence the name of the town. Outside one of the gates is the Lion of Lucerne, hewn (1821) out of the solid rock after a model by Thorwaldsen, a monument to the Swiss guards who perished at the Tuileries in 1792. Near by is the Glacier Garden, with rocks illustrating the action of ice. Pop. 29,461. - The canton has an area of 579 sq. m. and a pop. (1888) of 135,722, mainly Catholic. The highest point is 6998 feet, a peak of Mount Pilatus.
The Lake of Lucerne, called also Vierwald-stattersee (' Lake of the Four Forest Cantons' - Uri, Unterwalden, Schwyz, and Lucerne), is one of the most beautiful in Europe. In shape it resembles a cross with a crumpled stem ; its shores are mostly steep and rocky. Length from Lucerne to Fluelen, 23 miles; average breadth, 1 1/2 mile; area, 44 sq. m. ; greatest depth, 702 feet. The lake is associated with William Tell.