Why does a Bridge over the Reuss River In Switzerland have the “Dance of Death”?

Today, you would hardly expect to find grim depictions of suffering and death on a public structure such as a bridge. But there is a medieval bridge in Switzerland that bears paintings we might find more suitable for a chamber of horrors at an amusement park.

The Kapellbrucke and the Spreuerbrucke are two covered wooden bridges across the Reuss River in the Swiss city of Lucerne. The Kapellbrucke is adorned with paintings depicting the history of Lucerne and Switzerland. But the Spreuerbrucke bears paintings that depict the Totentanz, or “Dance of Death”.

The “Dance of Death” was a common subject in medieval paintings. In such paintings, death was often depicted as a skeleton or corpse leading people to the grave.

Fortunately, people who don’t wish to view such ghastly paintings on their way across the Reuss can instead choose the Kepellbrucke, which is only a short distance from the chilling Spreuerbrucke.