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Lucerne's Lion Monument


Lucerne, Swizerland - Lion Monument

ABOVE: Bertel Thorwaldsen's Löwendenkmal, Lucerne.

Switzerland has a long tradition of supplying mercenaries to foreign governments. (Even today, Swiss Guards protect the Vatican.) 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. More than 700 Swiss officers and soldiers died while defending the palace, without knowing that their royal employers--like Elvis--had left the building.

In the early 1800s, the Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen was hired to sculpt a monument to the fallen Swiss Guards. The Löwendenkmal or "Lion Monument" 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.

Reaching the Löwendenkmal

From the waterfront, head up the Alpenstrasse or the Löwenstrasse to the Löwenplatz. On the uphill side of the square, follow the Denkmalstrasse another block or so to the monument.

Other Lucerne articles

Bridges of Lucerne
Visitors flock to the medieval Kapellbrücke and Spreuerbrücke. So do the local spiders.

Swiss Transportation Museum
This lakefront museum complex has it all: trains, planes, automobiles, boats, a planetarium, a 360° panoramic movie tour of Switzerland, and an IMAX theater.

Pilatus Kulm
You can ascend this mountain overlook near Lucerne by cablecar, on foot, or via the world's steepest cogwheel railway.