Lucerne, Switzerland


Löwendenkmal, Lucerne, Switzerland

Deep within the Swiss Alps, you may come across the most unlikely of animals: a majestic lion quietly sleeping in a rock. This is the Löwendenkmal, a statue designed and built by Lukas Ahorn in 1820-1. It commemorates the members of the Swiss Guard that died in the bloody French Revolution massacre (of course, the words “bloody massacre” and “French Revolution” go hand-in-hand) when the revolutionaries (aka violent, unorganised mobs armed with crude weapons) stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.  The Swiss Guard had been a part of the Royal Household from as early as the 17th century–and over 600 Guards were killed in the ensuing massacre, with more dying in prison later on. (Interestingly, the Swiss Guards that survived were the ones sent to Normandy.) It was Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen who began the initiative to create the memorial; he had been on leave in Lucerne at the time of the massacre and seemed to be suffering from survivor’s guilt after the fact, prompting him to commission the statue. No matter; the injured, sleeping lion he created is a beautiful and unexpected monument, ensuring the dead are never forgotten.

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