Known as the Löwendenkmal, the Lion Monument stands in close proximity to the Glacier Garden in Lucerne, Switzerland. Carved into the sandstone in the early 1800's by Bertel Thorvaldsen, a noted neoclassical sculptor, the monument stands to the memory of over 700 Swiss soldiers killed during the storming of Tuileries Palace during the French Revolution.
It was described by Mark Twain as ...the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world... in A Tramp Abroad. The Swiss guards, (who were commonly used as mercenaries at the time due to their reputation for impartiality and loyalty) were defending Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI at Tuileries palace under oath and obligation, but were given no orders as to what they should do when the murderous revolutionary mob approached. They did not know that the King and Queen had escaped the palace, and faced with overwhelming odds, laid down their arms in the face of annihilation by the irate peasants. Having searched the palace and finding the king gone, the crowd sated their blood-lust by turning on the Swiss guards who were overwhelmed by the 30,000 strong mob.
The Lion is portrayed as having been pierced through the heart by a lance, and lies with it's paw resting on a shield showing the Lily coat of arms, the symbol of the Bourbon Kings who had sent the men off to France in the first place. The Lily is also the symbol of France, the fleur-de-lis, which the lion has died to protect.
The monument bears the inscription, To the fidelity and bravery of the Swiss, and also bears the names of the 26 officers killed at the battle. It was paid for by donations from other regiments that survived the battle and the families and friends of those who fell. The original design, in stucco, can be viewed within the Glacier Garden.
A picture of the lion and further information can be found at: