Lucerne's Lion Monument

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Red Mezz on September 7, 2006

In his book 'A Tramp Abroad' Mark Twain referred to this monument as 'The most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world' and I would certainly be inclined to agree with him.

Just north of Lowenplatz above the city centre and carved in the side of a cliff near Lucerne's Glacier Garden lies the dying figure of a lion known as the 'Lion of Lucerne' or 'Lowendenkmal'.

Europe is an area absolutely full to the brim of stunning sculptures and monuments, carvings and architectural monuments, and if you are travelling around it, not only can you not possibly hope to see them all, but as is sadly and often the case, once you've seen 10 or start to think you've seen them all.

Having said that, however, if you're planning to be anywhere near the town of Lucerne, Switzerland in your journeys, I would highly recommend that this is one you do stop and experience.

When I arrived in Lucerne I had just come off a whirl wind trip of Scotland, London, and Paris...all of them cram packed with every historical monument you could manage with out walking your feet clean off. (And even then as my friend's boots showed, it was a near miss...) But none of us could help but be moved by this really stunning and poignant piece of carving that shows every inch of heart that the Swiss have shown over the years, and their pride in how loyal and honourable a people they have proved themselves to be.

The lion commemorates the fallen Swiss guards in 1972 in the French Revolution in Paris. Hired for their honour and trustworthy lack of politics to guard King Louis XVI during the French Revolution, more than 700 Swiss Guard died defending the palace, unaware that the King they protected was no longer inside.

The Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen was commissioned in the early 1800's to sculpt something to remind the citizens of the true heart and soul of its fallen guard and this work more than does that. I knew nothing of the history behind it when I walked up the hill to see the lion (it was in the guide book, figured it was something I should do) but instead found myself standing and staring with other tourists in awe and wonder and a monument so gracefully mournful.
The monument depicts a dying lion lying over a Swiss Shield with spear still protruding from his flank. It is a moving piece to say the least, and I only wish that I had photos to portray just how wonderful it is. Alas, this was one of those rare occasions where I found myself too moved to take a photo, in light of such sorrow it didn't seem right. If you are interested, however, you can easily find photos of it online.

This is a highly visited tourist area, which unfortunately does take away from the atmosphere. Go early if you can.
Lucerne Lion Monument
Denkmalstrasse 4
Lucerne, Switzerland

© LP 2000-2009