The Lion, the Panorama, and the Bridge

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.   — Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad, 1880.


The lion monument (Löwendenkmal), designed by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, is dedicated Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti (“To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss”). It commemorates the sacrifice of more than six hundred Swiss Guards who died defending the Tuileries Palace in 1792 during the French Revolution. The monument portrays a dying lion lying across broken symbols of the French monarchy. Mark Twain regarded it as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”

Situated minutes walk from the lion monument is the Bourbaki Panorama Museum.

The panorama painting, dating from 1881, depicts the scenes of French general Charles-Denis Bourbaki’s army being disarmed crossing the border to Switzerland during the Franco-Prusian War. The sick, starving, and disorganized French soldiers were welcomed into Swiss homes, treated by the Red-Cross and were allowed to recuperate before returning to France. Enhanced with props, mannequins and special sound effects, the 1,000 square meter painting documents one of the best humanitarian efforts in Swiss history. Photography is not allowed in the exhibition area. I downloaded some photos from online, just to give you a feel of the experience.

The iconic Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) is one of the most photographed tourist attractions in Switzerland.

Spanning diagonally across the Reuss River and named after the nearby St. Peter’s Chapel, Chapel Bridge is the oldest wood covered bridge in Europe and the oldest surviving truss bridge in the world. Take a stroll on the bridge, pay attention to the unique paintings on the interior triangular frames, dating back to the 17th century, depicting events in Lucerne’s history, from the life and death of Lucerne’s patron saint St. Leger to the legends of the city’s other patron saint St. Maurice. Although most of the paintings were destroyed in a fire in 1993, thirty of them were restored subsequently.

After taking picture of swans, take a walk in the old town, noticing details of buildings and of course fountains…

Or witness a firefighter’s wedding…

This concludes my day trip to this astonishingly beautiful city in Central Switzerland.

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