Monument, memorial, memory
What does the Lion Monument stand for? The stone plaque to the left calls it a tribute to fallen heroes. Is it also a massive work of art? Or is it a tomb with a chapel, a historic memorial – or a tourist attraction in a beautiful city park? Visitors are invited to take a tour and discover answers.
A lion in honour of mercenary soldiers
The monument (six by ten metres), with Latin inscriptions and situated in an expansive English garden, was ceremoniously unveiled in 1821. The massive lion was designed in Rome by one of the most famous sculptors of the day, Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen, and carved in the rock face of a former quarry by stonemason Lukas Ahorn from Constance.
Carl Pfyffer von Altishofen commissioned the work – an anti-revolutionary monument to commemorate the dramatic events in Paris on 10 August 1792, when an angry hoard stormed the Tuileries Palace and killed hundreds of Swiss Guardsmen serving King Louis XVI.
Conservation of this monument of national importance as well as maintaining the English garden poses a complex challenge, also financially. Although its political message is controversial, the sculpture’s artistry has drawn admiration from the start. It numbers among the most famous statues in the world and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Switzerland.
The information points in the park provide interesting facts about the monument, the memorial chapels in Lucerne and Paris, the former Lion Monument Museum, the park, the artists, the Pfyffers, and past visitors. All information on site is in German and English. Visitors can also use the QR code to find more information and languages on the website www.loewendenkmal-luzern.ch.
Büro für Geschichte, Kultur und Zeitgeschehen / Stadt Luzern (Hrsg.), In die Höhle des Löwen. 200 Jahre Löwendenkmal Luzern, Luzern 2021.
Kreis Georg, Schweizer Erinnerungsorte. Aus dem Speicher der Swissness, Zürich 2010.
Schumacher Beatrice. Kleine Geschichte der Stadt Luzern. Baden 2016.
Stadelmann Jürg (Hrsg. et al.) Luzern entdecken, 5. Aktualisierte Auflage, Thun 2019.
Karten und Stadtansichten Luzern:
Schumacherplan, Stadt Luzern 1790/92:
Most historical sources for the Lion Monument are located in the archives of the city and canton of Lucerne (Stadtarchiv der Stadt Luzern and Staatsarchiv des Kanton Luzern).
Ill. 1: Photographer Giulia Schiess, 2021.
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