The Wednesday Wander is back! After two weeks off due firstly to an ongoing series of posts, then to me being too ill to post anything at all, I’m back to wander the world (the bit I’ve seen of it, anyway). This week, I’m wandering to Switzerland, to a melancholy monument carved into a cliff face above a small lake. This is the Lion Monument, Lucerne.
Carved around 1820, the monument was designed by famed Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, and sculpted by Lukas Ahorn. It is dedicated to a regiment of Swiss Guards killed defending the French Royal family during the French Revolution. The guards were part of the King’s household prior to the Revolution, and followed the family to the Tuileries Palace in Paris after they were forced to leave Versailles in 1791. On August 10, 1792, revolutionaries stormed the palace. Overwhelmed by superior numbers and running low on ammunition, the guards were massacred by the mob, even after they had surrendered.
The carving at the top can be translated to read ‘To the fidelity and bravery of the Swiss.’ The monument itself is huge, more than thirteen metres across, and its pale reflection is a poignant reminder of lives lost centuries before. I remember it being a serene place, dappled by leaf shadows and sunlight, an oasis of peace carved from war and revolution, and it appears that not much has changed since it was made. In 1880, Mark Twain described the Lion Monument as follows:
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.
Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next week!