History: This monument is a dying lion, designed to commemorate the fallen Swiss guards who lost their lives in the French Revolution serving King Louis XVI. These Swiss guard were massacred in 1792 when they were protecting the royal family from revolutionaries attack on the Tuileres Palace (approximately 760 died). One of the guards on leave, Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen, wanted to create a monument to commemorate his fellow guards. He started to save money in 1818, and Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvalsen designed the lion monument. The monument was hewn in 1820-1821 by German stone mason Lucas Ahorn in sandstone rock. The lion is impaled by a spear and covering a shield. Next to the lion is another shield bearing the Swiss coat of arms. The latin inscription above the lion reads, “Helvetorium fedai ac Virtuti.” This translate to, “To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss.” Below the lion, is the inscription of the soldiers names and the number of fallen and surviving soldiers. Fallen-DCCLX(760). Survived-CCL(350).
If you are ever in Switzerland, das Löwendenkmal is definitely a worthy sight to see. Mark Twain praised this particular monument as, “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”