The Lion Monument of Lucerne was designed as a memorial for the mercenary soldiers from Switzerland who lost their lives while serving the French King Louis XVI during the French Revolution in 1792 when the revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris. It commemorates the soldiers’ courage and willingness to die rather than betray their duties as the guards of the king.
The Lion of Lucerne is about 6 meters high and 10 meters long.
The designer of the rock-cut relief is Bertel Thorvalden and the sculptor is Lukas Ahorn. Ahorn carved it out of the sandstone rock in 1820/1821. The Lion of Lucerne is one of the most famous monuments in Switzerland. It was placed under Swiss Protection in 2006.
American author Mark Twain described the sculpture as ”the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world” in his book A Tramp Abroad.
The massive rock monument depicts a wounded lion, impaled by a spare, covering a shield bearing the French monarchy’s symbol: fleur de lis. There is another shield beside the lion bearing the coat of arms of Switzerland. Above the lion, the words Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti are carved, translated as ”To the loyalty and the bravery of the Swiss”. The inscription below the lion lists the names of the officers and gives the approximate numbers of soldiers who died and survived. 760 soldiers (written in Roman numerals DCCLX) died and 350 soldiers (CCCL) survived.