White Tower and Black Tower at Castelgrande

White Tower and Black Tower at Castelgrande

Learn and Explore

Whether you love maritme history, climbing lighthouses, nature, or the beach, there is something for everyone at the Fire Island Lighthouse.

Climb to the top of the tower or spend an afternoon exploring exhibits on Fire Island’s maritime history. See the First-order Fresnel Lens, meander along the boardwalks to the historic boathouse and bay, or enjoy sand and surf on the beach. Be sure to look for art shows and workshops and other programs when planning your visit.

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The Fire Island Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse on Long Island.

Long Island boasts more than 20 lighthouses, all different styles and sizes. The Montauk Point Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on Long Island, but it is not the tallest. At 168 feet, the Fire Island Lighthouse stands more than 50 feet above its east end counterpart.

You can see the New York City skyline from the top of the tower.

Climb to the top of the Fire Island Lighthouse and you won’t just be rewarded with bragging rights. On a clear day you can see the New York City skyline in the distance. Tower tours are offered daily until one hour before close (call 631-583-5901 for most up-to-date hours of operation). The $10 tour fee for adults goes to support the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society.

182 steps. But who’s counting?

When you climb to the top of the Fire Island Lighthouse, the beautiful brickwork and stunning views are sure to distract you from counting each and every step. But it is good to know that there are 182 steps to the top where you can enjoy 360-degree views from the gallery platform.

This is the second Fire Island Lighthouse.

The first Fire Island Lighthouse was built on the westernmost end of Fire Island in 1826. It was 74 feet tall, constructed of Connecticut River blue stone, and its light could be seen for 10 nautical miles out to sea. The first lighthouse was removed and its materials were recycled into the present-day lighthouse and terrace, completed in 1858. The foundation of the original lighthouse can still be seen just west of the Fresnel Lens Building.

It wasn’t always so black and white.

The present-day Fire Island Lighthouse was originally a cream color. It didn’t get its distinctive black and white stripes, called “daymarks,” until 1892.

The Fire Island Lighthouse is open year-round and accessible by car.

The Fire Island Lighthouse is open year-round and is worth a visit in every season. You can take a ferry ride from Bay Shore to Kismet, then walk or take a water taxi to the lighthouse. Or you can drive to Robert Moses State Park, Parking Field #5 (parking fee in season). Park on the east end of the parking lot and follow the boardwalk about ¾-mile to the lighthouse.

Discover Maritime History

For decades, the first evidence of land for travelers crossing the vast Atlantic Ocean from Europe was the Fire Island Lighthouse. Completed in 1858 near the site of its 1826 predecessor, the current Fire Island Light is still a beacon attracting thousands of people each year. With a focal plane of 168 feet above the level of the sea, can be seen more than 20 miles away. Learn more about the lighthouse's history and how the National Park Service works to protect maritime heritage and lighthouses.

The Fire Island Lighthouse is operated by the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service. The light, still owned by the United States Coast Guard, is now maintained and operated by the Society as a private aid to navigation.


Open daily. Tower tour availability depends on volunteer presence. Please call 631-583-5901.

A Sacred Site to American Indians

To return to more pages about the history and culture of Devils Tower National Monument, use the links below:

The following peoples have geographical, historical and/or cultural ties to the Tower:

Ceremonies may occur at the Tower any time of the year, and are not always visible to visitors.

Cultural and Spiritual Connections

The connections which tie American Indian culture to the place known as Devils Tower are both ancient and modern. Oral histories and sacred narratives explain not only the creation of the Tower, but also its significance to American Indians. They detail peoples' relationships with the natural world, and establish those relationships through literal and symbolic language. Today there are several sources one can reference to read the various oral histories. 2

Modern connections are maintained through personal and group ceremonies. Sweat lodges, sun dances, and others are still practiced at the monument today. 1 The most common ritual that takes place at the Tower are prayer offerings. Colorful cloths or bundles are placed near the Tower - commonly seen along the park's trails - and represent a personal connection to the site. They are similar to ceremonial objects from other religions, and may represent a person making an offering, a request, or simply in remembrance of a person or place. As with many religious ceremonies, they are a private to the individual or group. Please do not touch, disturb or remove prayer cloths or other religious artifacts at the park.

It is important to note a key difference between American Indian religions and many other contemporary religions (referred to as "western" or "near eastern" religions): a sense of place dominates the religion of American Indians, as opposed to the sense of time that dominates many western religions. Instead of a focus of chronological events and the order in which they are presented, American Indian religion focuses on a place and the significant events that are connected with that location. Although western religions have their important places, they do not hold the level of sacredness associated with the important places of American Indian religions.

The Sun Dance ceremony is often held at the park, although not every year. This photo shows the set up of a site from the 1980s.

Many of the tribes below have a sacred narrative, or oral history, about the creation of the Tower. You can read some of these oral histories on our park website.

Arapahoes call Devils Tower "Bear's Tipi." 1

Sherman Sage, an Arapahoe, said that his grandfather, Drying-Up-Hide, was buried near the Tower. 2

The Cheyenne call Devils Tower "Bear's Lodge," "Bear's House," "Bear's Tipi," and "Bear Peak." 1

The Cheyenne camped and hunted at Bear's Lodge in the winter and consider it a holy place. 2

"A band of Cheyenne Indians went on one of its visits to 'Bear's Tipi' to worship the Great Spirit, as did many other tribes before the white man came. The Cheyenne braves took their families with them as they felt that would be safe, as Bear's Tipi was a holy place." 2

Devils Tower is where Sweet Medicine died and it is his final earthly resting place. Sweet Medicine is the great culture hero of the Cheyenne who brought the Four Sacred Arrows to the tribe. The Four Sacred Arrows' sanctuary was located within a secret cave on the south side of Bear's Lodge. 1 Sweet Medicine also founded the Cheyenne Warrior Societies, tribal government, special laws, and ceremonies. As Sweet Medicine lay dying in a hut by Bear's Lodge, he foretold a dark prophecy of the coming of the horsethe disappearance of the old ways and the buffalo, to be replaced by slick animals with split hoofs the people must learn to eat (cattle). He told of the coming of white men, strangers called Earth Men who could fly above the earth, take thunder from light, and dig up the earth and drain it until it was dead. 2

The Crow call Devils Tower "Bear Lodge." 1

The Crow people were known to fast and worship at Devils Tower and built small stone "dream houses" there as part of these vision quests. The stone dream houses were about as long as a man is tall. A man would recline inside with his head to the east and feet to the west, "like the rising and setting sun." 2

The Kiowa call Devils Tower "Aloft on a Rock" and "Tree Rock." The oral histories of the Kiowa people link Tree Rock with their astronomical knowledge. 1

". origin memories of American Indian people reveal none anywhere 'as bright- and remote-' as the Kiowas memories of their days in the Black Hills and at Devils Tower." 2

The Lakota people call Devils Tower "Bear Lodge," "Bear Lodge Butte," "Grizzly Bear's Lodge," "Mythic-owl Mountain," "Grey Horn Butte," and "Ghost Mountain." 1 Of the may tribes associated with the Tower, the Lakotas arguably have the strongest connections (or at least the most well-documented).

The Lakotas often had winter camps at Devils Tower, documented as far back as 1816. Lakotas have an ancient and sacred relationship with the Black Hills, including Bear Lodge and Inyan Kara. The Black Hills are the Lakotas' place of creation. 1

A Sioux legend tells of a Lakota band camped in the forest at the foot of Bear Lodge. They were attacked by a band of Crow. With the assistance of a huge bear, the Lakota were able to defeat the Crow. 2

At Devils Tower, they fasted, prayed, left offerings, worshipped the "Great Mystery" (the essence of Lakota spiritual and religious life), and performed sweatlodge ceremonies. Lakota pray for health, welfare, and personal direction. 1

The healing ceremony is known to have been performed at Bear Lodge, conducted by a healing shaman. The Great Bear, Hu Numpa, imparted the sacred language and ceremonies of healing to Lakota shamans at Bear Lodge. In this way, Devils Tower is considered the birthplace of wisdom. 1

"White Bull told of 'honor men' among the people who went up close to Devils Tower for four-day periods, fasting and praying. There they slept on beds of sagebrush, taking no food or water during this time. Once, five great Sioux leaders-Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Gall, and Spotted Tail-went there together to worship. We did not worship the butte, but worshipped our God." 2

Vision quests are a very intense form of prayer requiring much preparation, fasting, purification rite (sweatlodge/inipi), and solitude. 1 It is a ritual integral to the construction of Lakota identity. In addition to learning lore and moral teachings, individuals who seek visions "often regain clarity of purpose in their lives and a secure identity as a member of their tribe." Men and women may seek a vision for a variety of reasons: to give thanks, to ask for spiritual guidance, or simply to pray in solitude. 3 One of Devils Tower National Monument's archaeological sites, assessed by archaeologist Bruce Jones in 1991, is a post-1930's shelter made of stone and wood which could have been used for vision quests.

A Lakota legend tells of a warrior undergoing a vision quest at the base of Bear Lodge for two days. Suddenly, he found himself on the summit. He was frightened since he did not know how to get back down. After praying to the Great Spirit for assistance he fell asleep. Upon awakening, he found himself back down from the butte. 2

The Lakotas traditionally held their sacred Sun Dance at Devils Tower around the summer solstice. The Belle Fourche River was known to the Lakotas as the Sun Dance River. 1 Bear Lodge is considered a sacred place of renewal. The Sun Dance is a ceremony of fasting and sacrifice that leads to the renewal of the individual and the group as a whole. The Sun Dance takes away the pain of the universe or damage to Nature. The participant suffers so that Nature stops suffering. The Sun Dance is ". the supreme rite of sacrifice for the society as a whole [and] a declaration of individual bravery and fortitude. Young men went through the Sun Dance annually to demonstrate their bravery as though they themselves had been captured and tortured, finally struggling to obtain their freedom." 3 The tearing of the pierced flesh is symbolic of obtaining freedom and renewal. NPS records indicate that modern Sun Dance ceremonies have been held at Devils Tower since 1983.

The Lakotas also received the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, the most sacred object of the Lakota people, at Bear Lodge by White Buffalo Calf Woman, a legendary spiritual being. The sacred pipe's sanctuary was located within a secret cave on the north side of Bear Lodge. 1 In 1875, General George A. Custer swore by the pipe that he would not fight Indians again. "He who swears by the pipe and breaks oaths, comes to destruction, and his whole family dies, or sickness comes upon them." 3 Pipes often are held as sacred objects used in vision quests, Sun Dances, sweatlodge rites, and in making peace.

The Eastern (Plains) Shoshone claim to have a sacred association with Devils Tower. Their religious world, however, is kept very secret and, as a result, cannot be documented at this time.


Since 2019, heritage tours around the Blackpool Tower building have been available for guests.

Embark on a historical journey through the building with a specialist tour guide. All tours include a commemorative souvenir guide and will take you through the building, with your tour guide telling you all about our 125-year history.

Castello di Montebello

Montebello is the name of the hill on which the castle stands, 90 meters above Castelgrande. The defensive walls of the old town originate here and join up with those from San Michele hill. There are still parts of both branches of these walls protecting the north and south sides of the fortress. After demolition of a row of houses in Piazza del Sole another section of wall came to light and will be restored as soon as the final layout of the square has been decided. The internal nucleus of the castle dates back to the 13th/14th centuries and has been restored several times.

Most probably, it was built by the Rusconi family of Como who kept it for a long period of time, even during the rule of the Viscontis. The external courtyards with the towers and the "Rivellino" were built by Sforza engineers in the second half of the 15th c. During Swiss occupation, the castle was called Castello di Svitto but it was renamed Castello di San Martino when Ticino became an independent canton. Towards the end of the 18th c., the castle was acquired by the Ghiringhelli family who ceded it to the Canton in 1903 on the occasion of the first centenary of independence. The view from the castle is spectacular to say the least and, on a clear day it is possible to see Lake Maggiore in the distance. The castle can be reached on foot from Piazza Collegiata or from the residential area called "Nocca" and by bus taking a road up from Viale Stazione.

How United Flight 93 Passengers Fought Back on 9/11

The coordinated terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 unfolded at nightmarish speed. At 8:46 a.m., the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Sixteen minutes later, a second jet hit the South Tower. At 9:37, an airliner hit the Pentagon. Within hours, thousands had died, including hundreds of first responders who𠆝 rushed to the scenes to help.

But after the events quieted and the scope of the damage came into relief, it became clear that there was at least one element of the al-Qaeda terrorist plot where the damage had been mitigated—with the fatal crash of United Airlines Flight 93.

Like the three other planes hijacked on September 11, Flight 93 was overtaken by al-Qaeda operatives intent on crashing it into a center of American power—in Flight 93’s case, likely the White House or the U.S. Capitol. But instead of hitting its intended target, the United jet went down in a field in rural Pennsylvania. While all 44 people aboard the plane were killed, countless people who might’ve perished in Washington were spared because of a passenger revolt𠅊 heroic struggle undertaken with whatever low-tech weapons they and the cabin crew members could muster.

Brendan Koerner, author of The Skies Belong to Us, a book about domestic airline hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s, says that in the hundreds of cases he studied for his book, he never came across anything like Flight 93’s passenger revolt.

“The attitude of passengers tended to be that airlines would give the hijackers what they wanted, and so there was relatively little threat to the passengers,” Koerner says. “There aren’t really that many instances of passengers getting involved.”

HISTORY looks back at a timeline of how the passengers aboard Flight 93 prevented their plane from striking in Washington.

7:39𠄷:48 a.m.: The terrorists board, likely one man short

The suspected hijackers of United Airlines flight 93: (L-R, top to bottom) Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Ibrahim A. al-Haznawi, Ziad Samir al-Jarrah, and Saeed Alghamdi.

On the morning of September 11, four terrorists boarded United Airlines Flight 93 at Newark International Airport: Ziad Jarrah, a trained pilot and three others, who were trained in unarmed combat and would help storm the cockpit and control the crowd. All four sat in first class.

There was one fewer hijacker on Flight 93 than the five-man crews that commandeered the other three planes, leading the 9/11 Commission Report to speculate that the United Airlines hijacking operated with an incomplete team. That commission speculated that an intended fifth hijacker—Mohammed al-Qahtani—had been refused entry to the country in early August at Orlando International by a suspicious immigration official, who thought al-Qahtani wanted to overstay his visa and live in the United States.

8:42 a.m.: The flight departs late

UA 93 left its gate at Newark International at 8:01 am, only one minute later than scheduled. But heavy traffic on the runway delayed takeoff for approximately 42 minutes.

As a result, one of the flights (Flight 11) was hijacked nearly half an hour before UA 93 had even left the runway, and both of the World Trade Center towers would be hit before the hijackers on Flight 93 had taken over their plane.

Dark Tower

The Dark Tower is the center of all creation. It is said to be Gan's body, and is held up by six Beams of great size and length, visible only by their effects on the lands along their lines - such as patterns in the clouds. At each end of the Beams, there is a portal, for a total of twelve. Each portal is protected by a guardian animal. Across the infinite number of worlds, the Tower can only be entered in one: Mid-World. It is necessary to present a sigul of Arthur Eld in order to enter the Tower and in some legends it is believed the Tower itself gave Arthur Eld his Sandalwood Guns and sword Excalibur.

The Dark Tower is surrounded by a huge field of roses called Can'-Ka No Rey. This makes sense because the Towers Twinner, The Rose, is surrounded by towers in New York. Each rose blooms with the light of a thousand suns and each has a beautiful core. The Tower is a six hundred floor spire made of black stone, and the only entrance is a door of ghostwood, with the words "Unfound" written upon it. The tower has a central oriel window which is striated with thirteen different colours which inspired the design of Arthur Eld's crown. In other worlds, the Dark Tower can take a number of forms including a tiger and a black house. The Rose, however, is not simply a manifestation of the Tower, but a completely separate entity. Lesser floors in the tower are less than atoms to greater floors.

In its earliest history, the Tower was wholly magical, as were its supports, and was intended to stand forever. But the Old Ones (the civilization of man that preceded the events of the series by several centuries), confident in their technology, replaced the magical beams with ones that could be broken, as they were derived from machines. The Tower was also used to link its own world to others, some of which the Old Ones themselves visited to see horrific events as entertainment, and some to conduct business.

The Great Old Ones eventually attempted to topple the Tower as well and replace it with a technological replica under the guidance of Maerlyn by releasing the Prim from large cracks, which then formed in the ground and filled with monstrosities. Two examples of these were Mia and Dandelo.

After the assault on the Tower, the Old Ones tried to make amends by creating the Twelve Guardian Animals. These Guardian Animals were technologically engineered by the Great Old Ones to mend the magic of the Beams that was previously assaulted, thus mixing magic and machine. The bulk of the Dark Tower Series recounts the journey of Roland Deschain along the Bear-Turtle beam. The Bear is Shardik and the Turtle is Maturin. The Turtle may be the turtle from It which is said to have vomited up the galaxies. Roland's ka-tet eventually confronts Shardik, who has gone insane.

The Tower from then on was assaulted by the Crimson King using Breakers to snap the Beams supporting the Tower. As the Tower is the lynchpin in the fabric of space-time, these assaults have contributed to the world moving on, or slowly decaying and unraveling.

The Tower is Roland Deschain's life long goal. Roland wishes to breach the Tower, climb to its very top room and question whatever God or Demon resides there. It is his sole mission, and thus he is at odds with those that continue the attempt to destroy it. When he reaches The Tower, Roland came upon The Unfound Door, but it quickly changed to "Found" afterwards.

9/11 Attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping many more on the building’s higher floors. Eighteen minutes later, a second Boeing 767 appeared out of the sky, turned sharply toward the World Trade Center and sliced into the south tower. As millions watched the events unfolding in New York in horror, American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington, D.C. and slammed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. Less than 15 minutes after the terrorists struck the nerve center of the U.S. military, the situation in New York took a catastrophic turn for the worse when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke. At 10:30 a.m. the north tower also gave way. Faced with the knowledge that the United States was under attack, the nation’s air traffic controllers began a frantic attempt to wrest back control of America’s skies.

New book by former Trump aide alleges early racist comments

Nearly four decades ago, after erecting his eponymous skyscraper on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, Donald Trump would sit behind his rosewood desk and muse about working in an even more powerful office.

“These politicians don’t know anything,” he said. “Maybe I should run for president. Wouldn’t that be something?”

Barbara Res, a longtime executive in Trump’s real estate company, brushed off the idea right up until he was elected president. Now that he’s in the final weeks of his reelection campaign, Res has written a new book titled “Tower of Lies” urging Americans not to give him a second term.

The book recounts racist, anti-Semitic and sexist behavior, along with Trump’s ability to lie “so naturally” that “if you didn’t know the actual facts, he could slip something past you.”

“The seeds of who he is today were planted back when I worked with him,” Res wrote. “He was able to control others, through lies and exaggeration, with promises of money or jobs, through threats of lawsuits or exposure. He surrounded himself with yes-men, blamed others for his own failures, never took responsibility, and always stole credit. These tactics are still at work, just deployed at the highest levels of the U.S. government, with all the corruption and chaos that necessarily ensue.”

The book, a copy of which was obtained exclusively by The Times ahead of its Oct. 20 release, adds to a growing shelf of election-year treatises flaying the president. Trump has been excoriated in print by Michael Cohen, his former fixer John Bolton, his third national security advisor Mary Trump, his niece and Bob Woodward, the veteran journalist.

The President’s “only niece,” clinical psychologist Mary Trump, portrays a man warped by his family in “Too Much and Never Enough.”

Trump’s campaign brushed aside the latest entry.

“This is transparently a disgruntled former employee packaging a bunch of lies in a book to make money,” said Tim Murtaugh, communications director for Trump’s campaign.

In her account, Res wrote that “bigotry and bias control Donald’s view of the world, even the so-called positive stereotypes, which are just as damaging, like saying the Japanese (whom he seems to despise) are smarter than Americans.”

She recalled Trump berating her when he spotted a Black worker on a construction site.

“Get him off there right now,” he said, “and don’t ever let that happen again. I don’t want people to think that Trump Tower is being built by Black people.”

Trump turned red-faced when she brought a young Black job applicant into the lobby of another building, she wrote.

“Barbara, I don’t want Black kids sitting in the lobby where people come to buy million-dollar apartments!”

Res wrote that Trump hired a German residential manager, believing his heritage made him “especially clean and orderly,” and then joked in front of Jewish executives that “this guy still reminisces about the ovens, so you guys better watch out for him.”

Trump and his campaign often pointed to Res during the 2016 election as an example of his progressive history of hiring and promoting women. But during her 18-year tenure, she wrote, Trump talked frequently and graphically about women’s looks and his own sexual exploits — and forced Res to fire a woman because she was pregnant and bar her own secretary from important meetings because she did not look like a model.

While visiting Los Angeles to talk about a potential development, he segued from a discussion of different neighborhoods to how women in Marina del Rey had “tighter asses” than women in Beverly Hills or Bel-Air, Res wrote.

Trump “can’t stand” the working people who make up his political base, she wrote, but “was well aware of the public relations benefit of being liked by ‘the common man,’ and he exploited it, a behavior he continues to this day.”

Res recalled a lavish “topping out” party in 1982 to celebrate the completion of Trump Tower in New York. Trump persuaded the mayor and the governor to show up but balked at allowing the workers to attend, even though, she writes, such parties are typically thrown to celebrate their work.

“Construction workers? I don’t want the construction workers,” Trump said, grudgingly allowing “just the foreman.”

Medieval mystique

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The city of Lucerne is tucked neatly into the north-west corner of Lake Lucerne, amid lovely Alpine scenery. It is little more than an hour by train from either Basel or Zurich, yet it has a completely different feel from those "lowland" cities. Once a small fishing village, it has become one of Switzerland's most popular destinations, attracting more than five million visitors a year. The main tourist office is by the west exit of the railway station (Zentralstrasse 5 00 41 41 227 17 17 www.luzern.org), next to platform 3. It opens 8.30am-6pm from Monday to Friday (until 7.30pm mid-June to mid-September), 9am-7.30pm at weekends (9am-1pm in winter).

The oldest part of Lucerne is on the north shore, at the point where the River Reuss flows into the lake. It is connected to the opposite bank by a series of bridges, the oldest of which are the Kapellbrücke, both covered as they were in medieval times when they were built, although the Kapellbrücke has been restored following a fire in 1993. On the south bank is the modern commercial area, with shops along Pilatusstrasse there are also many smaller boutiques in the old town. The railway station is on this side of the river, at the southern end of the Seebrücke, and in front of it are the landing stages for the steamers (00 41 41 367 67 67 www.lakelucerne.ch), which connect Lucerne with the other towns on the lake.

There are plenty of hotels in the city. For cutting-edge design book into The Hotel (Sempacherstrasse 14 00 41 41 226 86 86 www.the-hotel.ch). Designed by Jean Nouvel, this painfully hip "deluxe boutique hotel" has five stars but considers it vulgar to mention them. There are lots of smooth surfaces, sharp edges and subtle lighting and, unforgettably, blown-up stills from erotic films on the ceiling of every bedroom. In summer, doubles are available from Sfr410 (£181) - breakfast in bed is extra. The four-star Hotel Wilden Mann at Bahnhofstrasse 30 (00 41 41 210 16 66 www.wilden-mann.ch) is a charming old townhouse hotel with loads of character, serving excellent food. There are single rooms from Sfr200 (£117) including breakfast. Not far away, and conveniently placed for the river and the railway station, is the three-star Hotel Schlüssel at Franziskanerplatz 12 (00 41 41 210 10 61). You may need to book ahead to secure one of only 10 rooms, which will cost Sfr95 (£42) for a single, Sfr140 (£62) for a double, including breakfast. The atmosphere is friendly and there is a pleasant bar-restaurant.

Lucerne has an unspoilt, and now pedestrianised, medieval town centre with a warren of narrow alleys, cobbled squares and painted façades - many dating back to the 13th century. It is also an important destination on the cultural circuit: the Lucerne Festival (00 41 41 226 44 80 www.lucernefestival.ch) is in any music lover's calendar. This year it starts on 11 August and runs until 18 September. There is also a November piano festival (22-27 November this year), as well as the spring festival, Ostern, which runs for 10 days each March. The concerts in the summer festival are divided between the extraordinary concert hall at the Lucerne Culture and Convention Centre (known in town as the KKL, or Ka-Ka-El) and several of the town's churches. Two concerts not to miss will be the appearances of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Simon Rattle, on 1 and 2 September. Tickets are available now by mail or e-mail telephone booking opens 17 May and the box office at the KKL (00 41 41 226 70 70 www.kkl-luzern.ch) will sell tickets from 8 August.

On the other hand, if your idea of culture is the yeast that ferments beer, Lucerne has an alternative venue: the Rathaus Brauerei (Unter der Egg 2 00 41 41 410 52 57 www.rathausbrauerei.ch), a riverside brewery and restaurant with its own shop. Down a glass of Rathaus Bockbier and you'll be yodelling within seconds.

Apart from walking across the old bridges, the best way to appreciate Lucerne's medieval origins is to walk along what remains of the 14th-century city walls with their old towers and admire the panoramic views over the town and across the lake. The grand Hofkirche is a short walk from the end of the walls, but Lucerne's most attractive church is on the other side of the water. The stunning Jesuit Church (00 41 41 419 94 02 www.jesuitenkirche-luzern.ch) with its two onion-domed towers, is the oldest baroque church in Switzerland and a marvel of elaborate Rococo design. It opens daily 6am-6.30pm.

Even if you don't go to any concerts, you still have to visit the Lucerne Culture and Convention Centre at Europaplatz 1. Walking around the Kunstmuseum ( www.kunstmuseumluzern.ch), the modern art collection on the top floor, is the best way to get a feel for the design of the building. The museum opens 10am-5pm daily except Monday, until 8pm on Wednesday entrance costs Sfr10 (£4.40). The Rosengart Collection at Pilatusstrasse 10 (00 41 41 220 16 60 www.rosengart.ch) houses more than 200 major works from the 19th and 20th century, including about 50 Picassos and a large collection of paintings by Switzerland's best-known artist, Paul Klee. It opens 10am-6pm daily, and admission costs Sfr15 (£6.65).

Even if you're not a natural train spotter, it would be hard not to be impressed by the Swiss Transport Museum at Lidostrasse 5 (00 41 41 370 44 44 www.verkehrshaus.ch). The hands-on exhibits cover all forms of transport in Switzerland. Tickets for the museum cost Sfr24 (£10.60) and there is a combined ticket for Sfr32 (£14), covering the Planetarium and IMAX cinema on the same site.


Opus at Bahnhofstrasse 16 (00 41 41 226 41 41 www.restaurant-opus.ch) is a buzzing riverside restaurant and winebar with good modern European cuisine, a few typically Swiss dishes, and a wine list boasting more than 700 wines.

Bam Bou, the restaurant at The Hotel (Sempacherstrasse 14 00 41 41 226 86 86 www.the-hotel.ch), offers a mixture of Asian and French cooking in surroundings that easily justify claims that it is the most stylish restaurant in the city. But beware that such stellar cuisine comes with prices to match, although the Japanese-style bento box, served at lunchtime, is good value at Sfr25 (£11).

Chocoholics should visit Restaurant Fritschi on Sternenplatz 5 (00 41 41 410 16 15) and dive into the Swiss Chocolate fondue. Various cheese fondues are also on the menu, starting at Sfr24.50 (£11), as well as meat fondues and raclette.

For dinner or Sunday lunch with a panoramic view of the lake, take the world's shortest funicular railway - the ascent only takes a minute - from Haldenstrasse up to the elegant but relaxed Hotel Montana at Adligenswilerstrasse 22 (00 41 41 419 00 00 www.hotel-montana.ch). The à la carte dinner menu in the Scala Restaurant is good value at Sfr62 (£27).

Conditorei Heini on Falkenplatz (00 41 41 412 20 20 www.heini.ch) is a stylish cafe that serves a wide selection of cakes and light lunch dishes and also sells traditional breads and cakes to take away.


Although at the opposite end of the country from Lucerne, Switzerland's Italian-speaking region of Ticino is on the high-speed rail line heading south to Milan. Trains depart hourly from Lucerne for the dramatic journey to the Ticinese capital, Bellinzona - an elegant old town that has been a fortress since Roman times. Occupying a prime position on the floor of the Ticino valley, Bellinzona was fought over during the medieval period before the Swiss finally wrested the city - and all of Ticino - from the Dukes of Milan in 1503. Since then this chunk of land south of the Alps has been thoroughly Swiss: after Napoleon came through, threatening to annexe the area, Ticino held out for independence under the banner Liberi e Svizzeri! ("Free and Swiss!") and joined Switzerland as a republic in 1803. The Ticinesi, though linguistically and temperamentally Italian, remain resolutely Swiss, and have little truck with outsiders who can't tell the difference.

Their capital, Bellinzona, shows its history in three magnificent castles, connected by fortifications strung along the valley floor. In the heart of the town is the biggest, Castelgrande, overlooked by the 13th-century White Tower and 14th-century Black Tower, which show distinctive Lombard-style winged battlements. Castelgrande's Museo Storico offers an engaging tour through the city's ancient past. Across the valley, a path rises to the picturesque Castello di Montebello, and continues even higher to the Castello di Sasso Corbaro, perched some 230m above Bellinzona. The panoramic view from its ramparts is splendid. All three castles are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Castelgrande (00 41 91 825 8145 www.bellinzonaturismo.ch). Museo Storico: Sfr4 (£1.75). Montebello (00 41 91 825 1342), Sasso Corbaro (00 41 91 825 5906).

A quarter-hour west of Bellinzona is the sun-drenched resort of Locarno. This characterful old town enjoys the most glorious of locations - on a broad sweeping curve of a bay in Lake Maggiore, which clocks up the most sunshine hours of anywhere in Switzerland. The arcades and piazzas of the town centre are overlooked by subtropical gardens of palms, camellias, bougainvillea, cypress, oleanders and magnolias, which flourish on the waterfront promenades and cover the slopes that crowd in above the town centre.

The cobbled alleys of Locarno's old town, lined with Renaissance façades, lead down to the arcaded, Belle-Epoque Piazza Grande - Locarno's meeting-point, social club and public catwalk. Warm summer nights serve up some great people-watching, as exquisitely groomed locals parade to and fro beneath the street lights.

A funicular from near Piazza Grande climbs the hillside to the ochre Santuario Madonna del Sasso, a Franciscan church founded on a wooded crag - sasso means rock - in 1487.

Madonna del Sasso (00 41 91 791 0091 www.maggiore.ch). Daily 6.30am-7pm. Free.

With its compact cluster of piazzas and extensive palm-lined promenades, Lugano is the most alluring of Ticino's lake resorts. Set on a bay in Lake Lugano, its views are astonishing: the city is framed by wooded, sugarloaf hills rising sheer from the water.

At the centre of town is the broad Piazza della Riforma, a café-lined square perfect for eyeballing passers-by. Tucked away in the web of lanes behind the square is the wonderful Gabbani delicatessen - an Aladdin's cave of fine salsiccia made especially for the shop, cabinets full of local Alpine cheeses, pastries and foodie delights galore. Perched on a terrace above is the Cattedrale San Lorenzo, with a Renaissance portal and fragments of 14th-century frescoes within.

From Piazza della Riforma, the boutique-infested Via Nassa heads southwest to the medieval church of Santa Maria degli Angioli, which dates from 1490. Inside is a magnificent fresco painted in 1529 by Bernardino Luini, depicting the Passion and Crucifixion, along with Luini's copy of his master's Last Supper. Nearby, the Museo d'Arte Moderna is currently showing a major exhibition of Jean-Michel Basquiat's work, due to run until June 19.

Gabbani, Via Pessina (00 41 91 911 3080 www.gabbani.com).

Museo d'Arte Moderna, Riva Caccia 5 ( www.mdam.ch). Open 9am-7pm daily except Monday Sfr11 (£4.80).

Fire Towers

Fire tower cabin access varies site to site. For information on a specific tower managed by DEC, contact the local DEC office.

History of Fire Towers in New York State

For nearly a century, observers watched the forests of New York State from more than 100 fire towers perched atop the highest peaks, searching for the dangerous, telltale signs of forest fires. There were 19 fire towers in the Catskill region and 52 in the Adirondacks.

Beginning in the 1980s, the State of New York began to phase out the use of fire towers for spotting forest fires, and in 1990, the last 5 towers still in operation were closed. Over time, the towers and their associated observers' cabins began to deteriorate, and those that were not dismantled were closed to the public for safety reasons.

Across the state grassroots, volunteer-based initiatives were formed to try to save the towers. These initiatives recognized that the towers not only represent a piece of the history and heritage of New York State forest protection, but are an untapped resource with tremendous tourism potential. Through the dedication of countless volunteers, as well as assistance and support from DEC staff, local government and the State Police Aviation Unit, many fire towers across the state have been restored.

Visiting New York's Fire Towers

Fire tower hikes offer what some refer to as "cheap views" - outstanding vistas with less hiking effort than required to hike to the summit of the highest peaks. Pack a lunch, drink and proper equipment and hike to a fire tower. Plan to spend lots of time on the summit taking in the views. Many fire tower cabins are only open during a limited time or when a steward is present. For information on a specific tower managed by DEC, contact the local DEC office.

Many fire towers are used to support radio equipment for DEC Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police communications. Solar panels, wiring, antennas, and other equipment is found on and in some fire towers. This equipment is critical to DEC public safety and resource protection missions. Do not touch or damage the equipment and please report any apparent vandalism to the nearest DEC office.

Many fire towers have stewards working on them during summer weekends. Stewards provide information on the history and important function of fire towers. They also can point out and name the mountains, lakes and communities seen from the fire tower. Stewards are typically volunteers or interns hired by the fire tower's "Friends". These groups form to restore, maintain and staff fire towers.

Take the Catskills Fire Tower Five Challenge!

DEC has not made a final determination for a 2021 Catskills Fire Tower Challenge. Check back for updates.

Lower Hudson Valley (Region 3)

    is located in Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, Ulster County. The restored fire tower offers views of the Pepacton Reservoir.
  • Jackie Jones Lookout is located in the Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park (leaves DEC website), Rockland County. On a clear day, the tower offers a view of Manhattan in the distance.
  • Mt. Beacon Fire Tower is located on Hudson Highlands State Park (leaves DEC website), Dutchess County. The property is owned and managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. On a clear day, the tower offers views of both Manhattan and Albany in the distance. is located in Phoenicia Wild Forest, Ulster County. The tower offers views of the surrounding mountains. is located in Nimham Mountain State Forest, Putnam County. The restored tower offers 360-degree panorama views of the Manhattan skyline, Catskills, and Mount Beacon. is located in Overlook Mountain Wild Forest. The 60-foot tower offers views of the Hudson River Valley, Ashokan Reservoir, and Devil's Path. is located in Sundown Wild Forest, Ulster County. The view from the tower is of the Catskill High Peaks to the north, and Rondout Reservoir to the south.
  • Sterling Mountain Fire Tower is located in Sterling Forest State Park (leaves DEC website), Orange County. The tower is owned and managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
  • Stissing Mountain Fire Tower is located in Pine Plains, Dutchess County. The tower is owned and managed by Friends of Stissing Landmarks. Hikers are welcome to access the Tower at their own risk and at no cost.

Capital Region/ Northern Catskills (Region 4)

    is located in Beebe Hill State Forest, Columbia County.
  • Dickinson Hill Fire Tower is located in Grafton Lakes State Park (leaves DEC website), Rensselaer County. The tower is owned and managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. is located in Rusk Mountain Wild Forest, Greene County. The tower has the unique distinction of being located at the highest elevation of any fire tower in the state.
  • Mount Utsayantha Fire Tower is located in Mt. Utsayantha Mountaintop Park, Delaware County. The tower is owned and managed by the town of Stamford. The tower offers great views of the surrounding mountains, hills, and valleys.

Eastern Adirondacks/ Lake Champlain (Region 5)

  • Azure Mountain Fire Tower is located in the Debar Mountain Wild Forest, Franklin County. The restored tower offers views of the northern Adirondack boreal forest and on a clear day even some of the distant high peaks.
  • Belfry Mountain Fire Tower is located in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest, Essex County. This tower offers views of the eastern Adirondacks. The half mile hike along a gravel access road is the shortest trip required to reach a mountain top fire tower. is located in the Blue Mountain Wild Forest, Hamilton County. The tower offers views of the central Adirondacks.
  • Cornell Hill Fire Tower was moved to Camp Saratoga on lands within the Wilton Wildlife Park & Preserve (leaves DEC website) in Wilton, Saratoga County. The tower is owned and managed by the town of Wilton.
  • Goodnow Mountain Fire Tower (leaves DEC website) is located on the Huntington Wildlife Forest owned by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The College and the Town of Newcomb restored the tower in 1995. The views from the summit and the fire tower are expansive.
  • Hadley Mountain Fire Tower (leaves DEC website) is located in the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, Saratoga County. The restored tower offers great views in all directions including Great Sacandaga Lake to the south.
  • Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower is located in a designated historic area within the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness, Essex County. Restoration of the tower is in progress.
  • Kane Mountain Fire Tower is located in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, Fulton County. The restored tower offers views of the nearby lakes.
  • Loon Lake Mountain Fire Tower is located in the Debar Mountain Wild Forest, Franklin County. The tower is not yet been restored, however, the summit offers great views of the Northern Adirondack Lake Country.
  • Lyon Mountain Fire Tower is located in the Chazy Highlands Wild Forest, Clinton County. The hike to the tower is rewarded with views of Chazy Lake, Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains in VT, and Montreal's skyline in the distance.
  • Mount Adams Fire Tower is located on private property within the High Peaks Wilderness, Essex County. The restored tower offers spectacular views of the High Peaks that cannot be seen from the ground at the summit.
  • Owl's Head Mountain Fire Tower is located in the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest, Hamilton County. The restored tower offers expansive views, including the High Peaks to the north and the Village of Long Lake.
  • Pillsbury Mountain Fire Tower is located in the Jessup River Wild Forest, Hamilton County. The tower stands on one of the Adirondacks 100-highest peaks.
  • Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower is located in the Taylor Pond Wild Forest, Franklin County. The restored tower offers views of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains in the distance to the east, and surrounding peaks to the north, west and south.
  • Snowy Mountain Fire Tower is located in the Jessup River Wild Forest, Hamilton County. The restored tower offers views of Mount Marcy to the north, West Canada Wilderness to the south, and the 14-mile long Indian Lake to the east.
  • Spruce Mountain Fire Tower is located in the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, Saratoga County. The restored tower offers expansive views of the southern Adirondacks. is located in a designated historic area within the St Regis Canoe Area, Franklin County. After decades of being closed, DEC and the Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower are restoring the fire tower, so it can be open to the public.
  • Vanderwhacker Mountain Fire Tower is located in the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wilderness, Essex County. Located south of the High Peak Wilderness, many of New York State's highest peaks are visible from both the tower and the summit.
  • Wakely Mountain Fire Tower is located in a designated Primitive Area adjacent to the Blue Ridge Wilderness. It is the tallest fire tower still standing in the state.
  • Whiteface Mountain Fire Tower was moved to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake (leaves DEC website) as an outdoor exhibit. The tower offers views of the museum grounds and surrounding mountains and lakes.

Western Adirondacks/ Upper Mohawk Valley/ Eastern Lake Ontario (Region 6)

  • Number Four Fire Tower is now located at the DEC Lowville Demonstration Area. This tower was built in the early 1930's and was originally located on Gomer Hill.
  • New Boston Fire Tower is now located at the Thompson Park Zoo (leaves DEC website) of Watertown, Jefferson County. The tower now on display at the zoo, once stood in the Hamlet of New Boston, Lewis County.
  • Cathedral Rock Fire Tower is located on the ESF Wanakena Ranger School Campus (leaves DEC website). It was moved there in 1970, from its original location on Tooley Pond Mountain. is located on Fulton Chain Wild Forest. The restored fire tower offers visitors a view of the Fulton Chain of Lakes in Old Forge. is located on the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest, St. Lawrence County. The tower offers incredible views of the surrounding areas including Tupper Lake and Mount Morris, the High Peaks, the Raquette River valley, Mt Arab Lake and Eagle Crag Lake.
  • Stillwater Fire Tower is located in the Independence River Wild Forest on top of Stillwater Mountain (2,264 feet), Herkimer County. The summit provides views of Stillwater Reservoir and the surrounding area, including views of the High Peaks and the Tug. Lowville DEC has had a partnership with the Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower since 2009.

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