During my visit to the city it was raining day and I left my umbrella in the car. Still, it was no reason to skip the famous monument in Luzern.
The Lion Monument (German: Löwendenkmal) commemorate the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris, France.
I guess no one goes to Lucerne without making an effort at least, to visit the dying lion monument.
It is no wonder that Mark Twain was so very impressed with this massive sculpture which measure 6 meters high by 10 meters across. It was sculpted in 1820 by Lukas Ahorn from an inspired design by Bertal Thorvaldsen and is sculpted right into the face of the cliff which overlooks a pool.
The monument was created to pay homage to the 600 Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution as they stalwartly carried out their commission which was to protect King Louis then resident at the Tuilleries Palace in Paris.
There are many symbolic elements to the monument. Depicted impaled on a spear with one paw over a shield bearing the standard of the French Monarchy and another paw placed over a shield portraying the coat of arms of Switzerland, I could well understand why Mark Twain described it as the most moving monument in the world.
One of the "must see" attractions in Lucerne is the Lion Monument, a memorial for the Swiss soldiers who died in battle serving France's King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. The sculpture depicts a dying lion and was carved out of a rock face. Above the lion reads the Latin inscription HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI, which translated into English means "To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss". From an artistic perspective, the Lion Monument is truly a beautiful piece of work that conveys such sadness and sorrow.
Interesting to note, but if you look closely, you'll notice that the surrounding outline of the lion resembles the shape of a pig. Apparently, the sculptor had a falling out with someone associated with the contracting of the memorial that he created the pig shape out of spite. Ouch!
The Lion Monument was sculpted in the early 1800's by the Danish Artist Bertel Thorvaldson who was hired to sculpt a momument to the fallen Swiss Officers and Guards, numbering over 700 who were guarding King Louis XV1, Marie Antoinette and their children during the French Revolution.
Read about it on the website.
Several years ago just before we started planning our first European trip I read a book called the Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor who just so happens to have grown up in Chicago and still lives part time in Chicago when he is not in his second home on a Greek Island. The Lions of Lucerne was his 1st book in 2002 and now his books routinely make the NY Times Bestseller list.
With that said I knew that when we went to Switzerland (my dream country since I started collecting stamps over 45 years ago) we would have to see this monument. Just a few facts which I'm sure have been related on other VT pages before me.
The sculpture was created in 1820 - 1821 to commemorate the mercenary soldiers who died protecting the King and Queen of France who had already departed (we didn't find them there either when we visited). The Swiss saying behind the monument translates to "To The Loyalty and Bravery of the Swiss". Below the lion are the Greek numbers DCCLX and CCCL which indicate that 760 soldiers died and 350 survived. The monument is 20 feet high and 33 feet long and was carved on an upright wall which was the remnants of the towns quarry which supplied the sandstore that built many of the buildings in Lucerne.
The first thing that struck me about the Lion Monument in Lucerne is the size of it. From pictures that I had seen I had expected a much smaller sculpture but the Lion is quite large. The 'Dying Lion of Lucerne' is a monument to the fallen Swiss soldiers at the battle of Tuileries, Paris in 1792 when French Revolutionaries attacked the palace.
The monument was sculptued out of solid granite rock in the side of a natural cliff of rock just to the north Lake Lucerne. Mark Twain once described the monument as "the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world" and I would agree, as the piece is filled with emotion enhanced by the tranquility and peace of the artificial lake in frint of it. THe monument was erected in 1820.
The stone carving is commemorating the dead 750 Swiss soldiers that fought in Paris during French Revolution in 1792. The chiseled monument was done by Bertel Thorvaldsen in 1820, with the help of some novice stone masons/artists. It took 1 years to complete. The close by toilet in Asian theme is a trip, and you should use it as well as the little cabana type structure nearby.
"The saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world"
I agree, it is the most moving experience to look at the sad face on the dying lion. It really is a remarkable piece of art, carved out of a solid sandstone cliff-face. The lion's face is unforgettable.
It commemorates more than 700 Swiss officers & soldiers who died defending the Tuileries Palace in Paris during the French Revolution in 1792. They believed that King Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and their children were sheltering inside, when in fact they had been smuggled out.
The sculpture was carved in 1820/21 by Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Dane.
This is one of the most amazing pieces of art in the world. Carved out of the rock face in memory of the Swiss guard killed in the line of duty - sort of - protecting France's Louis XIV.
The guard were killed to a man after being ordered to drop their pikes as Louis thought that 'his people' loved him and wouldn't do any damage - Doh!!
The Lion's pain is there for all to see and this is the most amazing thing about this monument - the Lion looks like is really in pain, close to death with a broken pike in its side (symbolising the pikes of the Swiss Guard killed with their own pikes).
Das Loewendenkmal / The Lion-monument was built in 1820 in order to memorize the 750 swiss soldiers that were sent to Paris in 1792 in order to fight against the troups of the French revolution. All of them lost their lives in the battles defending the Tuilleries.
Mark Twain once said that this Sleeping Lion of Lucerne is the "sadest and most moving piece of rock in the world"
this touching monument was made by the danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen .
The Dying Lion of Lucerne Monumen is surely one of the world's most famous monuments. Hewn out of natural rock in 1812 in memory of the heroic death of the Swiss guards at the Tuileries in 1792. I always find this monument very powerful and quite emotive personally - this is how I picture Aslan in CS Lewis's book 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' when he dies.
Although this monument is well known amongst the bus tours, it is worth a look. The lion is a rock sculpture in the face of a small cliff. Beneath it is a pond so that people cannot get too close. It commemorates the Swiss guards who died defending the monarchs in the French Revolution. There are inscriptions around the memorial. No admission is charged to see the monument. For those walking to it, there are signs that will point the way.
The Lion Monument is an important monument in the city. The sleeping Lion, another named for it, was built in 1821 in honour to all Swiss Guards who had died in a battle in Paris. They were defending the French Royal family against the Paris revolutionaries in the Tuleries Palace. Being born in Lucerne and then the city decided to make this nice sculpture in the mountain's rock to remember these soldiers. You can see the pain on the lion's face distinctively.
If you get here early, this place is like an oasis in the city. I found this to be a very touching memorial to the Swiss Guards massacred during the French Revolution, and it is a must see in Luzern. you can almost feel the sadness in the sculpture. The later in the day that you arrive, the more overrun with tourist this area becomes. It becomes less of an oasis and more of a beehive, and the chances of getting a picture without a crowd the shot becomes less and less. You can follow signs from the old town and it is about a 15-20 minute walk.
The Swiss have a long tradition of supplying mercenaries to foreign governments. Because the Swiss have been politically neutral for centuries and have long enjoyed a reputation for honoring their agreements, a pope or emperor could be confident that his Swiss Guards wouldn't turn on him when the political winds shifted direction.
The Swiss Guards' honor was put to the test in 1792, when--after trying to escape the French Revolution--King Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, and their children were hauled back to the Tuileries Palace in Paris. A mob of working-class Parisians stormed the palace in search of aristocratic blood. Inaccurate records indicate that from 700 to 950 Swiss officers and soldiers died while defending the palace. They were mostly shot down as they were retiring from the battle and, of those who surrendered, many were murdered in cold blood the next day.
In 1819, the Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen was hired to sculpt a monument to those fallen Swiss Guards. The sculpture was carved in a sandstone cliff above the city center, near Lucerne's Glacier Garden and the Panorama, and it has attracted countless visitors since its dedication in 1821.
It was carved into single block of natural rock to commemorate the Swiss that had died in that August battle in 1792. It is a very beautiful sculpture, very detailed and realistic. It also fits in well with its surroundings and makes for a very natural setting. But you will want to look closely at the Lion's face, as you will notice an incredibly sad expression.
Most reviewers of this sculpture misquote Mark Twain. His actual words were"…the Lion of Lucerne is the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”
- A Tramp Abroad" (Mark Twain)
Under the Lion is a nice, small pond and flowers and plants grow around the area in abundance. Due to the pond, you will not be able to go right up to the sculpture.