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The Lion Of Lucerne
cwo3ward @ 07/ 27/ 2009

The Lion of Lucerne monument is a giant stone sculpture commemurating the loss of life at the Tuileres Palace in Paris. A regiment of Swiss mercenaries had served as part of the Royal Household of France. They were protecting King Louis XVI and his family when revolutionaries stormed the palace in the 1792 10th of August Insurrection. The King and the Royal Family took refuge with the Legislative Assembly, but the Swiss bravely fought on. When the Swiss ran low on ammunition, they were overrun. More than 600 were killed and another two hundred either died of their wounds or perished in prison.

 

The Lion Monument was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1884), who was a Danish sculptor in 1819 while he stayed in Rome, Italy. A stone mason from Constance (southern Germany) named Lucas Ahorn did the actual sculpting of the lion out of sandstone rock in 1821. The sculpture is 20 feet high and 33 feet long. It is carved into the side of an old rock quarry that was used to build the town of Lucerne over the years. The lion is dying from the spear that it is impaled on. Underneath it is a shield with the fleur-de-lis, which is the sign of the French King. There is also another shield with the Swiss coat of arms. The names of the officers who fought and died are carved into the rock, along with the number of soldiers injured and killed.  

 

------------------- Mark Twain wrote about the Lion Monument ----------------------

 

The Lion lies in his lair in the perpendicular face of a low cliff — for he is carved from the living rock of the cliff. His size is colossal, his attitude is noble. How head is bowed, the broken spear is sticking in his shoulder, his protecting paw rests upon the lilies of France. Vines hang down the cliff and wave in the wind, and a clear stream trickles from above and empties into a pond at the base, and in the smooth surface of the pond the lion is mirrored, among the water-lilies. Around about are green trees and grass. The place is a sheltered, reposeful woodland nook, remote from noise and stir and confusion — and all this is fitting, for lions do die in such places, and not on granite pedestals in public squares fenced with fancy iron railings. The Lion of Lucerne would be impressive anywhere, but nowhere so impressive as where he is.

 

From Mark Twain's A Tramp Abroad, 1880

What were the WOW moments you experienced?
I was on a bus tour and we were taken to see the lion monument, as the tour guide called it. I was amazed at the monuments beautiful setting, since the old rock quarry had been transformed into a serene memorial. The WOW moment came when I got home and did some research to find out about the origin of the monument and what its purpose was. So many Swiss soldiers lost their lives simply doing their duty. The majority of the soldiers were from the town of Lucerne, hence the need to memorialize their bravery in guarding the French King.
Switzerland, Lucerne, The Lion of Lucerne
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