Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Helvetiorum Fidei Ac Virtuti...

After cycling along the Vierwaldstättersee, our next stop on our Lucerne sojourn was the Lion of Lucerne or the  Löwendenkmal.

On the way to the Löwendenkmal we passed by several interesting structures including this one of Christ on the cross with a skull at the base...
Wonder what that stands for?

Finally, at the Löwendenkmal!

A plaque on the history of the Löwendenkmal...

The Alpen Panorama was closing for the day, so we gave it a miss...

Carved into the cliff face, the dying lion monument portrays the lion impaled by a spear, covering a shield bearing the fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy. A shield beside the lion bears the coat of arms of Switzerland...

Since the 17th century, a regiment of Swiss mercenaries had served as part of the French royal household. And the Swiss guards were responsible for protection of the imperials after King Louis XVI was moved from the Palace of Versailles to the Tuileries Palace in Paris. In August 1792, revolutionaries stormed the palace. Fighting broke out spontaneously after the royals had been escorted from the Tuileries to take refuge within the Legislative Assembly. 
Nearly 600 Swiss soldiers who remained defending the Tuileries were killed during the fighting or massacred after surrender. A further two hundred died in prison or were killed during the massacres that followed. Apart from them, the survivors were a hundred Swiss who escaped from the Tuileries and a 300-strong detachment of soldiers who had been sent to Normandy a few days earlier.
This incident stirred up quite an emotion back home in Switzerland. Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen, an officer of the Guards who had been on leave in Lucerne at that time of the fight, took up the initiative of immortalising the valour of his fellow soldiers. He began collecting money to finance the construction of the monument in 1818. The monument was designed by a Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen, and finally carved in a former sandstone quarry by Lukas Ahorn, during the period 1820–1821.

A tribute to the soldiers, Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti or "To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss" is chiseled into the monument. The inscription below the sculpture lists the names of the officers and gives the approximate numbers of soldiers who died in the incident. 
The dying lion is indeed a moving sculpture, needless to say, it is a magnificent masterpiece. In fact, Mark Twain praised the sculpture in his 1880 publication, A Tramp Abroad, as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world."

On our way back, we passed by the Hofkirche St. Leodegar again, alongwith other interesting buildings...

And we stopped by at the station, Bahnhof Luzern, for dinner. We chose an Oriental take-away. For me, it was some Penang chicken curry with rice, while Neeti ordered noodles with stir-fry vegetables. And after this we need to rest to be in good shape for tomorrow's expedition to Mount Titlis! 

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