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Carved into a sandstone cliff this very powerful and moving monument is dedicated to the fallen Swiss Guards who died in 1792 while protecting King Louis the XVI, Marie-Antoinette and their family at the Royal Palace during the French Revolution in Paris. When a mob of Parisians stormed the royal palace - the Tuileries - the Swiss Guards were forced to lay down their arms by the order of Louis XVI, which resulted in their massacre. More than 700 Swiss Guard hired for their trustworthy lack of politics and honour died defending the palace, unaware that the King they protected was no longer inside.
The lion, a symbol of courage and strength was designed by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen and carved in deep relief into the sandstone cliff above the city centre, near Lucerne's Glacier Garden, between 1820 and 1821.
The dying lion with its paw poised over the shield bearing the fleur-de-lys of the French king with a broken lance signifies its loyalty in protecting the shield to its death. Above the 30 foot lion is the Latin inscription HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI or THE LOYALTY AND BRAVERY OF SWISS.
Document revised 2009 January 26