The world is full of enigmatic, bizarre, giant, and futuristic monuments. With so many surprising places out there, it can be hard to find the ones that are truly right for you. Follow along with us for an overview of the strangest monuments around the world:
1. Cadillac Ranch – Texas, United States of America
If you’re on Route 66, you need to stop here: this row of Cadillacs was buried in the ground in Amarillo, Texas in 1974, and has become a curious attraction for many. Its creators, the Ant Farm Art Group, wanted this monument to symbolise the dreams and hopes of the American people. A curious fact: if you feel the inner stirrings of an artist, don’t hesitate to add your persona tag on the cars!
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2. Georgia Guidestones – Georgia, United States of America
In 1979, a man came to Elberton County in Georgia and had this sculpture commissioned. He then disappeared without revealing his true identity and left an enigmatic message engraved on the stones in eight different languages: the ten commandments that should govern the modern world. There are many mysterious stories about this strange monument, including its geometric distribution and astronomical orientation; there are also claims that there is a time capsule buried under a slab a few meters from the monument which has an unknown recovery date.
3. The Fork – Vevey, Switzerland
This monument is definitely unique. The 8-meter-high fork has adorned the waters of Lake Geneva, Switzerland as though it had fallen from the sky since 2009. You can see it as you enjoy a walk along the Perdonnet Pier in the city of Vevey. It has been compared to the little mermaid of Copenhagen or the Manneken Pis of Brussels. The fork was originally supposed to be a temporary exhibition of the company Nestlé, which is located in the same village, but the city decided to keep it because of how popular it became!
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4. Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue – Mongolia
It is the largest equestrian statue in the world, 50 meters high and 250 tons. The strangest part is that this monument is in the middle of the Mongolian grasslands. The Mongols are very proud of Genghis Khan, who was one of the most powerful emperors in Asia. It is even said that 8% of the Mongolian population are descendants of this historical figure. The monument is located one hour from the capital, Ulaanbaatar.
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5. Moais – Easter Island, Chile
Who hasn’t wondered where these stone giants came from? The famous Moai of Easter Island are one of the rarest and most mysterious monuments on the planet. There are around 900 of them in total, making it the largest sculptural art exhibition in Rapa Nui. Interestingly, some of the sculptures form groups and others are isolated. How they found themselves there and who built them remains a mystery.
6. Fallen Angel Square – Madrid, Spain
It’s said that this monument dedicated to Lucifer is located exactly at 666 meters above sea level, coincidence? What’s surprising is that there was no way to take this measurement at the time the statue was placed in the Retiro Park in central Madrid. Coincidence or not, this is one of the few statues in the world dedicated to the fallen angel.
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7. Hand of the Desert – Atacama, Chile
This gigantic monument located in Chile is particularly breath-taking: a giant hand emerging from the Atacama Desert. Conveniently located on the edge of the Pan-American Highway, it’s easily accessible to the many travellers that stop to check it out. Located 75 km south of Antofagasta and 1100 meters above sea level, this famous monument is the work of the Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal who seeks to express emotions such as loneliness, vulnerability or pain through his sculptures.
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8. The Spring Temple Buddha – China
This giant Buddha is the largest statue in the world … by a lot! At 128 meters high, the other famous statues seem tiny; the Statue of Liberty is not even half the size, and Christ the Redeemer does not even exceed its pedestal. As you can imagine, this Buddha is not a featherweight: 1000 tons, no more, no less! To see this copper giant simply go to the Chinese province of Henan and you can enjoy the beautiful hot springs in the region as well.
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9. The Headington Shark – Oxford, England
You might not believe your eyes when you see this one! But it’s exactly what you think: a shark embedded in the roof of a house… Bill Heine asked his sculptor friend John Buckley to create this work to protest against the use of nuclear power after the attacks in Japan and the Chernobyl accident. The local authorities gave Heine a hard time at first as he did not have a permit for this instalment, but in the end the eight-meter, 200 kilo shark managed to stay in place and become a tourist attraction and monument against pollution and nuclear energy.
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10. The Stone Spheres – Costa Rica
We’re sure you’ll remember the huge stone sphere that almost crushed Indiana Jones at the beginning of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The scene took place in Costa Rica, where Spielberg wanted to use the mystery surrounding these giant spheres (which are now a national monument in the country) to create one of the most famous scenes of the film. Most of the stone balls were discovered in 1939 in the Diquis River Delta in southern Costa Rica. These balls are the subject of many myths and hypotheses like that they were created by the descendants of Atlantis, are navigation devices, or act as a door to another dimension… But there are also other, more reasonable theories that they were agricultural tools or symbolise social status within a tribe.
11. Man Hanging Out – Prague, Czech Republic
If you walk down Husova Street in Prague, in the old town, you will come face to face with a man hanging with one hand on a pole! He isn’t a madman ready to throw himself into the void, but rather a bronze statue dedicated to the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. This is one of the most curious monuments of the city and is the most famous work of the Czech sculptor Černý.
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12. Le Pouce – Paris, France
The beautiful capital of France is full of monuments, but this one is very different from the Eiffel Tower! If you walk through the business district of La Défense, in the heart of Paris, you cannot miss this giant thumb. Its creator, the sculptor César Baldaccini, conceptualized it in 1965 for an exhibition on the hand, but this structure was so successful that the city of Paris decided to keep it!
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13. The Stone Heads of Mount Nemrut – Turkey
Today, these big stone heads are one of the most important monuments of Turkey. Their discovery story is as fascinating as the heads themselves; in 1881, the German General Von Moltke Nelmut was on a mission in the Altiplano Armenio and heard about the existence of enigmatic statues at the top of Mount Nemrut. The mystery intrigued him, so he decided to climb to the top, 2150 meters above sea level, to check if they were real. When he arrived, what he found left him speechless: gigantic heads and bodies of stone that had been forgotten for centuries, known only to the shepherds of the region. The area turned out to be the funerary monument commissioned by King Antiochus I Theos in the first century BC. His grave has never been found!
14. Tiger and the Turtle – Duisburg, Germany
Imagine a huge roller coaster, but for your feet… This monument is located in the German city of Duisburg and is exactly that, even if it is difficult to walk upside down! Its creators, sculptors Ulrich Genth and Heike Mutter, wanted to create an element that pays homage to the city’s steel industry and introduce a decorative element into the landscape. The strange thing is its name, the authors claim that the roller coaster represents the speed of a tiger and the visitors represent the turtle.
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15. Stonehenge – England
The most enigmatic place in England could not be left out of this list: the megalithic monument of Stonehenge. Few sites are surrounded by as much mystery as this one. Why was it built? Some researchers say it is a funerary monument, others claim it was a religious temple or an astronomical observatory. Go see it on the day of the summer solstice, when thousands of people gather to watch the sunrise. If you want to experience this unique sight, Salisbury, Wiltshire is the place to be.
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Written by: Laura Nunez Gea