Lucerne : The Lion Monument and around
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Just northeast of Löwenplatz is one of the highlights of Luzern, the terribly sad Lion Monument. This dying beast draped over his shield, with a broken spear sticking out of his flank, was hewn out of a cliff face in 1821 to commemorate the 700 Swiss mercenaries killed in Paris in 1792. On August 10 that year, French revolutionaries stormed the royal palace, the Tuileries; in the face of the mob, the Swiss palace guards were ordered to lay down their arms by Louis XVI and were subsequently massacred. This would be a movingly tranquil spot, with its foliage and gently rippling pool in front, were it not for the fact that it’s the single most touristed place in the entire city.

Adjacent are a handful of nineteenth-century tourist attractions, quaint and rather old-fashioned today. The Gletschergarten, Denkmalstrasse 4 (Glacier Garden; May to mid-Oct daily 8am–6pm; March, April & mid-Oct to mid-Nov daily 9am–5pm; mid-Nov to Feb Tues–Sun 10.30am–4.30pm; Fr.8; SMP; www.gletschergarten.ch), holds within its grounds a rather fusty museum displaying old relief maps of Luzern and Switzerland; a fascinating Mirror Maze built for the Swiss National Expo in 1896 and recently restored in mock-Moorish style; and a set of geological potholes telling of the subtropical ocean beach that was Luzern twenty million years ago.

The Alpineum opposite (daily 9am–noon & 2–6pm; Fr.4; SMP) is a relic from a bygone age – static models of Alpine scenes behind glass no doubt sparked the imagination of our great-grandparents, but today they come across as a little dry. On Löwenplatz itself, a huge circular building houses the Bourbaki Panorama, due to reopen in 2000 after renovations. The panorama itself is a huge mural depicting the retreat of the French Eastern Army under General Bourbaki into Switzerland during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71.

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