Standing nearly 10 feet tall on the lovely lakeside promenade in Montreux – the home of the second-largest jazz festival in the world – and gazing over to the foothills of the Alps in the distance, the Freddie Mercury Memorial has become a place of pilgrimage for die-hard Queen fans. Larger than life, made of bronze and always adorned with garlands and flowers, his statue was created by Czech sculptor Irena Sedlecka and placed in this spot in 1996, as a celebration of the iconic pop star who made Montreux his home and whose band recorded seven albums at Mountain Studios, which they eventually bought.
Freddie died of AIDs in 1991, and on the Montreux waterfront he is now remembered in a typically flamboyant stance, arms outstretched and head flung back, emulating his pose on the cover of the last Queen album, Made in Heaven. The statue looks particularly dramatic in the evening hours, as the setting sun creates a colorful backdrop.
The beautifully tended Lakeside Promenade Fleuri winds its way for 6.25 miles (10 kilometers) along the Swiss northwestern shoreline of Lake Geneva from Vevey to Villenueve, taking in the stylish town of Montreux and the fortified lakeside Château de Chillon. The pathway is lined with cacti, palms and plane trees as well as numerous funky sculptures, including one of Freddie Mercury in the center of Montreux; there are benches from which to contemplate the delightful alpine views and neatly planted parks full of exotic flowers. On summer evenings it seems the whole of Montreux gathers along the promenade to take the air, chat, jog, rollerblade or simply admire the spectacular views. There are plenty of bars and restaurants scattered along the sparkling lakeside, and kids will love the little train that chugs up and down the prom in Montreux during the summer.