Travel - Locations
By: - at May 23, 2013

15 Brilliant Statues Less Known to the World

The Leshan Giant Buddha:
The Leshan Giant Buddha
By McKay Savage  via Wikimedia Commons

Each year, millions of people from all over the world travel to cities in Europe, America, and other locations all over the globe to see the sights. Some of the most famous venues in history see scores of visitors each day, such as the Eiffel Tower in France and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. When people travel, they usually plan out their trip and make an effort to include time to see these famous locales. In fact, about fifteen to twenty percent of people use guidebooks when they plan to see famous sites, according to the U.S. Travel Association's website. However, even though there are many well-known places to visit and landmarks to see, there are also a number of amazing lesser-known works of art all over the world that might surprise you with their beauty and size. If you would like to go off the beaten path and see some works of art that aren't exactly mainstream, there are fifteen amazing statues you can visit that will fit the bill.

15)  The Leshan Giant Buddha
If you plan to visit China, then you'll no doubt want to visit the Great Wall. However, there are plenty of other things to see in this amazing country. One of the lesser-known venues that includes an amazing statue can be found in the Sichuan province near the city of Leshan. Here, carved into the side of a natural cliff, is the giant statue of a Buddha. Built around 703 A.D., it is 71 meters tall. In 1996, it was declared a World Heritage Site, and although the statue is darkened with soot, smoke, and age, it still stands tall and is one of the most amazing sites in China. This is also one of the physically toughest statues known to man because of the fact that is carved directly into the face of a cliff. In 2008, there was a massive earthquake in the area, and despite all the damage that it did, the Leshan Buddha remained undisturbed.

14)  The Statue of Murugan
The statue that stands outside the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is one of the tallest in the world. Although the statue is not very old, (it was erected in 1996,) millions of people from all over the world come to see it. The statue represents the Hindu deity Lord Murugan, and he is an important part of a yearly winter festival that takes place in the late winter in Malaysia. The temple and natural caves are open to the public nearly all year round, and you can see this statue before you tour the caves and temple that are a part of this country's rich culture. This statue is a wonder and took nearly three years to complete.

Statue of Murugan at night:

By Kawaputra (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Murugan Statue Up Close:
Murugan Statue Up Close

13)  The Angel of the North Statue
If you're traveling to the UK and are looking to see an interesting statue, then you should stop off in Gateshead, UK, to see the Angel of the North. This is the largest angel statue in the world, and each year, it is visited by millions of people who are passing into the city. This impressive and towering statue has an amazing 175-foot wingspan that no other statue in the world can match. The Gateshead council also asserts that this statue is extremely resistant to high winds and other kinds of inclement weather. It is built to last for over one hundred years, and because of the steel-and-copper construction, it will only become more beautiful with age.

angel of the north statue

12)  The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
There are many famous works of art all over Europe, and a great many of them are in Rome, Italy where the 16th century Renaissance gave birth to some of the most amazing statues and paintings of all time. While we all know about Michelangelo's David that stands in Florence Italy, this amazing equestrian statue is just as impressive. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor that ruled from 161-180 AD. There are many different interpretations of what the statue might mean; some people believe it is a representation of power and authority, while others think that it might be a celebration of a benign and wise ruler. Little is known about the actual sculptor of the statue, though many scholars assert that it is odd it survived the Middle Ages, where many other statues like this were melted down for their metal and turned into armor for soldiers.

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius

By User:MatthiasKabel (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

11)  Little Mermaid Statue
When we hear the title "The Little Mermaid," most of us think of the Disney animated movie. However, there is a statue that sits in the great city of Copenhagen, Denmark, that bears the same title.

 Little Mermaid Statue

The statue's likeness does have a link with the famous story of the mermaid who wanted to be human, although it does not much look like the animated red-haired girl that we are all so familiar with. The statue, which is made of bronze, was a gift to the city from Carl Jacobsen, a well-known brewer. He gifted the statue in 1913 after seeing a ballet performance of the story. The statue will be 100 years old in August of 2013. You can either walk from the city to see the statue, (about 35 minutes,) or there are several tours available in the city that will take you past its present location. One interesting point about this statue as that it is actually based off of two different people. The young girl who starred in the ballet that so captivated Jacobsen refused to pose nude in order to create the statue, so the sculptor, Edvard Eriksen, only used the girl's head and face for the statue. Instead of imagining the body of a young nude woman to create the rest, he actually requested that his wife pose nude so that he could finish the statue. The statue that is on display is not the original; the one that Jacobsen gifted to the city was vandalized too many times, so it is in a location that is known by very few people and is kept secret for its protection.

 Little Mermaid Statue

10)  Mother Albania
If you are interested in seeing statues that represent the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to their country, then you might want to visit the statue of Mother Albania at the National Martyrs Cemetery of Albania, which is located in Tirana. This statue is in homage to Albanian patriots who died in WWII. This statue watches over the nearly thirty thousand graves in the cemetery. It is 12 meters high and was erected in 1971. The statue is made of concrete and holds a wreath of laurels and a large star. For many years, this statue was virtually unknown outside the country because of the lack of tourism there. Now that Albania is no longer a communist country, its beauty and wealth of attractions are making it more popular as a tourist destination. If you're planning to be in the area, then this cemetery and the statue are well worth the trip.

Mother Albania

9)  The Equestrian
The Equestrian - TexasThere are many great statues in the United States that are eye catching, but the largest equestrian statue in the world stands in the southwest city of El Paso, Texas. This impressive statue is the likeness of Don Juan de Onate. This massive statue stands 36 feet tall, not counting its eight-feet-high base. It is made of bronze and the position of the horse, which is rearing up with its front hooves in the air, is quite an impressive sight. The statue is located just outside the entrance of the El Paso International Airport, and although it is lauded as the largest equestrian statue in the world and the second-largest statue in Texas. However, there are those who are not impressed by Onate's history of abusing indigenous people. This was a contentious issue in El Paso for some time, as a large percentage of the population claim Native American heritage as well as Hispanic. For some time, it was hotly debated that the statue should not even be made at all. This is why the statue was not named after the explorer directly and was instead titled "The Equestrian." The statue, which was created by sculptor John Sherrill Houser, was placed at the airport in 2006 and still stands there today, a jewel in this small city's crown. To see the statue, you can take Interstate I-10 to Airway Blvd and then follow the signs that lead to the airport. The statue is visible both entering and exiting the airport, although it is easier to see as you're leaving. The airport itself is rather small and there is no official parking in order to view the statue, so you may want to park in the short-term parking area and walk to the statue in order to take photos and see it close up.

The Equestrian in El Paso, Texas

8)  Statue of James Cook
James Cook Statue in Bicentennial ParkMillions of people visit Australia each year, and it's known all over the world for its amazing beaches and wildlife. However, what many people may not know that the likeness of the man who first made contact with local natives in the 1700's has been preserved in a large statue in Cooktown, Queensland, a city that also bears his name. The statue is in homage to James Cook, the British explorer who sailed in his ship, The Explorer, and first made contact with a number of indigenous people in Australia, New Zealand, and even Hawaii. Unfortunately, on his third voyage, he made the mistake of trying to take the chief of a large tribe hostage in return for some natives stealing one of his smaller boats, and the natives rose up and murdered him on the shores of a Queensland beach. There are many stories about him being eaten by a cannibal tribe after he was murdered. What actually happened was the natives prepared his body in the ancient way of honoring the dead, which included baking the corpse so the bones could be cleaned. The statue is made of pure bronze and can be found in Bicentennial Park and was created by a local sculptor, Stanley Hammond.

7)  Christ of the Rockies
Christ of the Rockies StatueThere are some lesser-known but highly impressive statues in the U.S. that can only be reached with a bit of hiking or climbing. One of the most impressive sits on top of Mt. Cristo Rey in the small desert city of Sunland Park, N.M. On the very top of Sierra del Cristo Rey (Mountain of Christ the King, or Mt. Cristo Rey, as the locals call it,) stands a large statue of Jesus. This large statue, which stands about 29 feet tall, is paid homage to each year during the Lenten season. People from all over the area, including from as far away as Albuquerque, climb up the rocky trail, and some have even been known to crawl to the statue to show their gratitude for prayers answered throughout the year. The statue was created in 1938 by a Spanish sculptor by the name of Urbici Soler, and was erected in 1939, four years after the mountain was changed from Shifting Peak to Sierra del Cristo Rey. If you plan to make the hike to see this statue, be aware that it is not for inexperienced climbers: the trail is nearly five miles long round trip, and the area is subject to intense temperatures from May to September. According to the city's official website, local law enforcement suggests that you only make the climb during the annual pilgrimage, as to climb it alone is dangerous due to very hot weather, vandals, and criminals that sometimes walk the trail. Another interesting point along the trail, however, is a large dinosaur track that was discovered up near the summit several years ago.

6)  La Virgen de Quito
La Virgen de Quito StatueEvery year, millions of people travel all over the world to view statues that are of great religious significance. While some are famous the world over, there are lesser-known statues that represent religious figures, and one of the largest and most unique stands in Ecuador. This statue, which is called La Virgen de Quito, represents the Virgin Mary. While there are many statues throughout the world that represent this iconic Christian woman, such as Michelangelo's "La Pieta," this statue shows the Virgin Mary in a different light. It is the only statue of the Virgin Mary of this size that is not only made totally of aluminum but also the only one where she has wings like that of an angel. The statue, which was erected in 1976 and created by Custín de la Herrán Matorras, stands 41 meters high and can be seen from many different vantage points in the city of Quito. She is featured standing on a large globe and stepping on a large snake, which many people interpret as her triumphing over Satan or evil in general. The composition and the fact that it is made of aluminum make this statue one of the most unusual in the world. This statue is sometimes also called "The Dancer" by local people because of the way she appears to be in movement, which is unusual for any statue of the Virgin Mary. When she is usually depicted, she is almost always standing still.

La Virgen de Quito
By Cayambe (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

5)  The March West
While many statues in the world represent faith and religion, there are others that stand as a testament to the indomitable spirit of man himself. There are a variety of statues that commemorate the bravery of men who conquered the unknown so that those behind them could live better lives. One such statue stands in the city of Emerson, Manitoba, Canada. There is a bronze statue of a man on horseback that's entitled "The March West." This statue commemorates the bravery of the Northwest Mounted Police who traveled into the unknown Canadian western territories to keep law and order. The march was made in 1874, and this equestrian statue is in homage to this event. It stands on a square granite stone with an inscription describing the march, in both English and French. While many people have heard of the Canadian mounted police and know that they still exist, many do not know that they were instrumental in taming the Canadian wilderness before the land was settled.

The March West Statue

4)  Statue of Eros
When we think of London, we tend to think of such famous spots as Westminster Abbey and towering Big Ben. However, there is a statue in the center of Piccadilly Circus that is lesser known to most people. This statue, which is made of aluminum and was created by sculptor Alfred Gilbert, now stands in the center of the plaza and looks down over Regent Street. This statue, which is also known as The Shaftesbury Monument, is beloved by Londoners and has been a landmark for many since 1892. The London Drum asserts that while the statue has been damaged or vandalized quite a few times, it is always returned to its former glory because the citizens of the city find it so enchanting. It is known as the Shaftesbury Monument because it was originally in home to the 7th Earl of the same name, who was well known for his work for the mentally ill. Eros is depicted shooting an arrow, the wings of the figure spread wide, with one foot off the ground. The statue is well-known in London, and it is common for tourists to be photographed in front of it.

 Statue of Eros
By Rafa Esteve (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Statue of Eros

3)  Spring Temple Buddha
If you're planning on touring China, then the Spring Temple Buddha is truly a sight to see. This is the tallest statue in the world. It is located in Lushan, Henan, China, and it is named for the hot springs that are in the area. These hot springs are believed to have healing properties, according to locals in the area. The statue of the Buddha was built in 2002 and sits upon a massive pedestal that is 125 meters high. There are plans to add onto the pedestal to make it even taller in the future. The entire statue itself stands at unbelievable 153 meters. Because of its massive size, this statue can be seen for miles all around Lushan. The fact that the sculptors can easily make the pedestal higher to elevate the Buddha whenever they like is clever, as they can instantly outdo the height of any other statue that is currently being created.

By Zgpdszz (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

By Zgpdszz (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

2)  Rodina-Mat Zovyot!
This statue, which is located in Volgograd, Russia, is known as Rodina-Mat Zovyot! or "When the Motherland calls." It is a figurine that represents "Mother" Russia, and she holds a large sword as she calls her citizens to battle. This statue was built in 1967 and is now in slight disrepair, as ground water is causing the figure to have a pronounced lean. Despite this, the statue is still extremely impressive, standing 170 feet tall. The sword that she holds is 108 feet tall. This statue was built to celebrate the Battle of Stalingrad, where Russian forces defeated invading German forces. It is also a testament to the men who died in the battle, which lasted a total of 200 days. Each day is represented by a step that leads to the statue, which means that you have to climb quite an impressive staircase in order to get close to the statue. Currently, there are no plans to repair the statue's problems, although many locals fear that it may soon fall over.

Rodina-Mat Zovyot! Statue Snow

1)  The Knotted Gun
Some of the most unique and amazing statues in the world are located in the United States; however, they are often overshadowed by the hugely famous Statue of Liberty and other must-see monuments. One of the most unusual and poignant statues in the U.S. is located in New York City, which was the chosen home of the man it was created for. "The Knotted Gun" is a statue that was created in memorial for John Lennon, world-famous musician and activist for peace. Lennon was gunned down by a crazed fan on December 8th, 1980, right in front of his home at the Dakota Apartments. After he was killed, his widow, Yoko Ono, asked sculptor Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd to create a statue that would visualize Lennon's dreams of a world without violence or hatred.

Reuterswärd rose to the challenge and created this statue, which is made in bronze. The original sculpture that Lennon's widow requested now sits in front of the United Nations building in New York City. The statue depicts a large gun, but the end is knotted, signifying its inability to fire. This represents an end to gun violence, the kind of violence that took Lennon's life. The statue was unveiled in 1988 and has since been recreated all over the world as a symbol of peace. If you plan on visiting New York, this statue is one that should be on your list of things to see, other than the obvious landmarks in the city.

By Farragutful (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Final Words
From religion to war and even to celebrate the spirit of man's desire to achieve, the creation of statues has been taking place since the start of human history. They were created before many written languages emerged, and some of them have survived from the very cradle of civilization. Today, there are many famous statues all over the world that inspire wonder and creative thought. However, there are also many lesser-known statues that are just as awe inspiring. Many people take these statues for granted because of their smaller size or because they are not as well known. Despite their lesser popularity, there are quite a few that are so grand in size that it is surprising that they are not known all over the world. From rearing equestrian statues to massive religious icons, these statues are a testament to boundless human imagination, and if you plan to travel anywhere near them, it is more than worth your time to stop and take a look. While you're visiting, remember to observe the rules, regulations, and customs of whatever country or city you're in. Even if some of the customs seem strange, remember to be tolerant and respect the area where you're visiting the statue. Not all of these locations may be open year round, so remember to call any parks or areas that are protected or run by the city or state to make sure the statue want to see will be available for viewing.





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