Digital city tour Willisau EN

City tour Hauptgasse 10, 6130 Willisau, CH

Join us on a journey of discovery and learn more about the history. Historic buildings line the main street in the medieval old town of Willisau. The two town gates close the old town. In the middle of it are cozy terraces, and stores.

Author: Willisau Tourismus

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11 Stations

Welcome to Willisau

Hauptgasse 10, 6130 Willisau, CH

Medieval Willisau is located in the Lucerne countryside at the foot of Mount Napf. The beautiful old town is the center of Willisau.

The late medieval town of Willisau forms a rectangle about 250 meters long, flanked on the south by the castle hill and on the north by the Enziwigger river. The ring wall is identical to the back wall of the houses on the north, east and west sides of the town. It rises up the hill and is preserved only in fragments. At the end of the 17th century, Lucerne built the bailiff's castle next to the only tower of the town fortification, the Kutzenturm.

The main street is closed at the beginning and end by gate towers and is as wide and stately as a square. The town presents itself today as it was rebuilt after the last fire in 1704. There are no representatively furnished town houses. Nevertheless, the modest houses, harmoniously graded in their storey heights, create a generous impression of the complex as a whole. The three public heptagonal fountains are a real ornament of the main street.

Lower Gate

Hauptgasse, 6130 Willisau, CH

The Lower Gate, fi rst mentioned in 1347, had been rebuilt for the second time following the town fi re in 1704, and was torn down in 1854 after falling into a state of disrepair. It wasn’t until 1980 that it was rebuilt in accordance with old designs – but with a larger passageway.

A visit to the tower room in the lower gate is possible in combination with the guided "Fürobespaziergang" tour.

History of Willisau

Hauptgasse 1, 6130 Willisau, CH

In 1101 Willisau is mentioned for the first time in a deed of donation and belonged to the counts of Lenzburg in Aargau. But much earlier the Helvetians first settled in the Willisau area in larger numbers.
The Helvetians were followed by the Romans. However, an actual Roman settlement could not be proven. Finds from Roman times, however, suggest that Romans at least stayed here on their way through.

In 1330 Willisau received the right to hold annual and weekly markets and the penal law = town charter. The market was a fundamental institution of medieval towns. It was not until the 16th century that Willisau gradually became a town of craftsmen and tradesmen. Whereby the craftsmen could not become rich or prosperous. This was especially evident after the town fire of 1704, when only a few landowners were able to rebuild their houses by their own efforts. But we will come to the town fires later.

The relationship between town and country has always been difficult: The town claimed more and more rights and competences for itself. The townspeople were also economically (craftsmen's rights, market, customs revenues), culturally and socially (school, hospital) at an advantage over the countryside. It was not until 01.01.2006 that the merger took place.

Would you like to learn more? Then listen to the anecdote, which was transmitted to us by a local from that time.


Hauptgasse 13, 6130 Willisau, CH

The town hall in the middle of the Old Town was built after the last town fi re in 1720. The ground fl oor was used as a “Schaal” (shop for selling meat), and the upper floors served as a “Tuchlaube”, where cloth merchants traded their wares. The “Willisauer Ellenmass”, a standard unit of measurement, displayed to the left of the entrance, still recalls this time. The top floor is now home to a theatre and is used as a small stage for all types of performances. The theatre curtain – painted by Willisau artist Xaver Hecht – is considered a particular gem. The first and second fl oors house the education services offices. The large room on the ground floor – known as “Bürgersaal” (citizens hall) – is used for concerts, exhibitions and other events.

Would you like to learn more? Then listen to the anecdote, which was transmitted to us by a local from that time.

Town fires

Hauptgasse 17, 6130 Willisau, CH

Willisau has been ravaged by four major fires. In 1375, Austrian sovereign Duke Leopold III had the town burned down to stall his enemies, the Guglers (French and English mercenaries), and to prevent them from finding shelter there. In 1386, Duke Leopold III spent an entire week in Willisau before the Battle of Sempach. Despite an
agreement to the contrary, when he departed, he allowed his troops to plunder, destroy and burn the town down. The two other fires occurred in 1471 and 1704. On 21 August 1471, a fire broke out in the house of Jakob Schmid, which was located in the centre of Willisau. It spread so quickly that every building and the two gate towers lay in ashes within two hours. Only the parish church, the parsonage and three other buildings remained standing. Because the fire was the result of negligence, not only was Jakob Schmid put in prison and his assets confiscated, but he was also expelled from the country. On 17 November 1704, there was a fire between the Krone inn (now called Haus Leopold Kreiliger) and the bakery. The fire quickly destroyed 117 buildings. The buildings on the sunny side above the town hall (now Städtli Pharmacy) through to the Upper Gate, Müligass and the parish church were saved. As in the year 1471, support in the form of money, food and construction materials
poured in from around the confederation.

History of the Willisauer Ringli

Hauptgasse 24, 6130 Willisau, CH

You are now at the house of origin of the Willisauer Ringli. The Willisauer Ringli is a ring-shaped pastry with a very hard consistency. The shape and the hardness is also the trademark of this biscuit. Since time immemorial, the ingredients have consisted of sugar, water, flour, lemon and orange rind, honey and salt. The exact mixture is secret.

The history of the Willisauer Ringli has a romantic background. At the end of the 1850s, baker Heinrich Maurer married Martha Peyer, who had worked as a housekeeper for the Pfyffer family at the Heidegg castle. From there, she brought the house recipe for the Ringli, which her husband improved and named the “Willisauer Ringli”. He tried to keep the recipe a secret, but was unable to.

A court ruling in 1977 stated that the Ringli may only be produced in Willisau. In addition to local bakeries and pastry shops, the company Hug AG makes Willisauer Ringli in its “Ringli factory”.

Parish church of Saints Peter and Paul

Hauptgasse 35, 6130 Willisau, CH

The parish church was built between 1804 and 1810 in accordance with the designs of renowned church builder Josef Purtschert of Pfaffnau. The interior decorations are remarkable, and the church possesses a wealth of highly valuable cultural artefacts.

The bell tower, which was erected in the early 13th century, is among the most beautiful and best-preserved Romantic structures in the canton of Lucerne, and it is the oldest piece of architecture in Willisau. As the swinging of the bells caused increasing wear and tear on the walls, renowned architect Adolf Gaudy was commissioned to design a new tower. In 1928/1929, he built a copper-clad bell tower over the church’s nave.From this tower you can enjoy the 360 degree view of Willisau and the beautiful surroundings during a guided tour.

Upper Gate

Obertor 1, 6130 Willisau, CH

The Upper Gate served as a watchtower in a fortification complex. Like the Lower Gate, it was used as a prison and a torture chamber. It was destroyed during each of the first three town fires, but survived the fourth fire in 1704, along with the buildings above the former town hall, where the fire was kept at bay thanks to the fire protection wall. The Upper Gate hasn’t changed much since it was rebuilt in 1546.

Would you like to learn more? Then listen to the anecdote, which was transmitted to us by a local from that time.

Town mill

Müligass 8, 6130 Willisau, CH

The town mill located on the fort wall – which was in use for a total of around 700 years – was fully renovated and expanded in 2001/2002 by the Albert Köchlin foundation. Parts of the wall preserve nearly every epoch. The oldest are from the 12th century. The roof truss from the year 1605 has been completely preserved. The large water wheel inside and the transmission were likewise renovated.

Chapel of the Holy Blood

Grabenweg 40, 6130 Willisau, CH

The current chapel was built in 1674. Inside the chapel, the walls are decorated with eight oil paintings (from 1392) depicting the legend of the holy blood. The painted wooden ceiling shows 70 biblical scenes of the apostles and the chapel’s patron saints.

Willisau bailiff’s castle

Schlossstrasse, 6130 Willisau, CH

The baroque castle, built from 1690 to 1695, was the home of the provincial bailiff. It is among the most signifi cant secular baroque structures in central Switzerland. The castle is now home to various government offi ces and the wedding room for the registry offi ce. Its interior design, with stucco work, panelling and magnifi cent
paintings, is impressive.

The rooms of the Landvogteischloss can only be visited during a guided tour.
You are now at the end of this digital tour. On the map you can see how to get back to the starting point in the old town.