The Lion of Belfort – Belfort, France - Atlas Obscura

The Lion of Belfort

Belfort, France

A colossal sculptural lion built by the same man who designed the Statue of Liberty. 


Lounging at the foot of the citadel in Belfort, France, the massive Lion of Belfort has acted as a proud symbol and reminder of the the French resistance against Prussian forces.

Completed in 1880, the giant lion commemorates the French resistance to invading Prussian forces that vastly outnumbered them. In the 1870’s Prussian forces assailed the city of Belfort for 103 days. The invading force numbered around 40,000 strong against the mere 17,000 French forces, but the Prussian siege was eventually turned away. Less than a decade later, the massive lion was completed in honor of the battle.

Sculpted by Frédéric Bartholdi, who had just finished creating the Statue of Liberty the lion was made of sandstone dug exclusively from beneath Belfort Castle. The towering beast stands almost 37 feet from head to foot and over 70 feet long. There are smaller replicas in both Paris and Montreal, but the true size and scope of both France’s victory and of the monument itself can really only be grasped from the original Lion of Belfort.

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