We have family from Canada staying with us this week, and after showing them a few different sides of Zürich, we decided to take a one-hour train ride to Lucerne (Luzern in German) to do some exploring there.
Luzern is rather like Zürich: it is centred around a lake framed by mountains (admittedly, theirs are closer than ours); it has a beautiful, pedestrian-only old town with a bevy of high-end shops; cafés and chocolate stores beckon at every turn.
One of the city’s main attractions is the Lion of Lucerne:
It is a piece of art that I have been waiting for some time to see. And it did not disappoint — I found it to be as beautiful and poignant as I had hoped.
The lion was carved in 1820 and 1821, and is a monument to the Swiss guards killed in 1792, as Paris’ Tuileries Palace was stormed by revolutionaries. The lion is shown wounded and dying, and resting on shields bearing the Swiss cross. Mark Twain apparently deemed this carving “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.” I cannot claim to have visited that much of the world, but I can say that this is the most evocative piece of stone that I’ve encountered in my travels thus far.
I enjoyed all of our visit to Luzern — we ate delicious Berliners (a type of European doughnut), visited several very nice churches, and admired the views along the lake and from several famous and very old bridges — but this lion was the highlight of the trip for me. I recommend paying him a visit if you find yourself in the area!
We’re leaving for Romania for tomorrow — I will most likely not be posting for the next week, but will be back with pictures and tales of our adventure to share with you.