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The saddest rock in the world according to Mark Twain [4 pictures]

Jan 30, 2013 By Abraham

The Lion Monument is a sculpture in Lucerne, Switzerland.  It was hewn in 1820-21 to commemorate the 1792 deaths of the Swiss Guards during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

In his 1880 book A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain called the work “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.” He continued…

The Lion lies in his lair in the perpendicular face of a low cliff — for he is carved from the living rock of the cliff. His size is colossal, his attitude is noble. His head is bowed, the broken spear is sticking in his shoulder, his protecting paw rests upon the lilies of France. Vines hang down the cliff and wave in the wind, and a clear stream trickles from above and empties into a pond at the base, and in the smooth surface of the pond the lion is mirrored, among the water-lilies.

Around about are green trees and grass. The place is a sheltered, reposeful woodland nook, remote from noise and stir and confusion — and all this is fitting, for lions do die in such places, and not on granite pedestals in public squares fenced with fancy iron railings. The Lion of Lucerne would be impressive anywhere, but nowhere so impressive as where he is.

(via WikipediaTraveller’s Point, Mithuandjoe, crm12)


  1. William Floyd says:

    Been there,seen it, simply amazing. I didn’t know anything about it until I just happened to see it on a high school trip.

  2. bbweis says:

    Helvetica is the Latin name for switzerland…..

    BTW I have also been here and seen it as well.

    And it’s Luzern…or Lucerno..

    1. Cameron says:

      Technically the old, Latin name for Switzerland is Confoederatio Helvetica which is why the Swiss Franc has the trading symbol of CHF. Bear in mind it was still called Confoederatio Helvetica far after Latin had gone out of use in Europe.

    2. Getulio Medeiros says:

      Helvetia is the Latin name of Switzerland.
      Helvetica means of or from Swizerland… In this case, the ‘lion’.

  3. Manny says:

    When I visited our your guide have us a cool story. The town apparently had a dispute about paying the artist. So if you look the outline around the line in the rock makes the shape of a pig. You can see it best in the 2nd picture after Twains excerpt.

  4. Dave says:

    The story as I remember it:
    The Swiss Guards were the most elite fighting unit in the world at that time (they still guard the Pope today). They were hired by many countries to do their fighting for them. The French royal family employed them as guards at their castle, The Tuileries. During the French Revolution, as they were about to be overrun by the rebels; the Swiss Guards refused to surrender and died to the last man defending the royal family. What they did not know is that the royal family had already escaped and their deaths were unnecessary.

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