Around the world, monuments are built to pay tribute to an extraordinary life or to commemorate a special event. While many of these monuments are straightforward and easy to understand, some of them are rather strange. Often a result of sculptors being too creative, these strange monuments still carry a message with them or are linked to particular events.
Just like regular monuments can be found around the world, so can these strange ones. Read about 10 of the strangest monuments around the world below.
1. Victoria’s Way Park
The Ferryman of Victoria’s Way has always been a fascinating subject. This character of Greek mythology ferries the souls from the living to Hades in a boat that crosses from life to death is as ominous as he is necessary. The park has many such weird and vivid sculptors from India that now populate Victoria’s Way Park in County Wicklow, Ireland. The half-sunken statue represents to many the disconnected human as he struggles to gain consciousness. They say that the ferryman will never reach the other side while others believe that the statue is actually just rising from the murky depths on his way to ferry more souls. There is even a version that says you must have a coin to give the ferryman or you are destined to walk between worlds forever. Either way, the Ferryman is just one of the many strange statues that inhabit the Victoria’s Way Park, the starving Buddha is also a major head turner.
Have you ever seen a bug collection with flies and beetles skewered with pins? You have never seen one like this. It, the pin, rises 23 meters above the courtyard of the Historic University Library in Leuven in Belgium. The work of Belgium artist Jan Fabre, of Royal Palace ceiling fame, (also bugs) is supposed to represent the exact beauty and perfect working mechanism that a insect’s body and a timepiece have in common. It this case, a green beetle is skewered on the giant pin.
3. The Traffic Light Tree
If you are not sure exactly when you need to go, do not depend on this traffic light to tell you. If you are passing through the Heron Quays Roundabout located in Canary Wharf, London, this monumental traffic light tree is sure to catch your attention. The lights flash in random sequence and if you are not prepared, you are heading for trouble.
Peter Vivantin erected this tribute to the never-ending rhythm of the domestic, financial, and commercial activities but most folks think it is just plain confusing. Still, it is something to see. Just don’t let it drive you crazy!
4. Hand of the Desert
Atacam Desert, Chile
In the Atacam Desert in Chile, just 75 km from the town of Antofagasta, the desert landscape stretches for miles in every direction seemingly unchanged except for a human hand that seems to rise out of the sand as you approach. The closer you get, the higher this giant hand seems to reach until you get close enough to realize that a giant human is not breaking through from the earth’s core. The statue aptly named Hand of the Deset, way out in the middle of nowhere is the work of Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrazabal. Infatuated with the form of the human hand as it breaks through the ground, he also has another statue rising from the water in Punta del Este at Brava Beach called Monument to the Drowned.
5. Saint on a Dead Horse
Prague, Czech Republic
I am relatively sure that when Saint Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen he did not see a dead horse. So why is the Bohemian Saint riding one at the Lucerna Palace in Prague? Your guess is as good as anyone’s is but sculptor David Cerny certainly captured the Czech Republic’s imagination. They loved it so much they made it a permanent fixture. The monument stands just a few yards from the original statue.
Alliance, Nebraska, USA
Everyone has heard of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument of mystery in Wiltshire County, England. Well now, there is also a Carhenge. This monument, built in 1987 by experimental artist Jim Reinders and 30 family members in Alliance, Nebraska, is an exact replica except for the fact they he used old cars, a pickup truck, a 62′ caddy, and an ambulance. The structure is accurately proportionate to the real Stonehenge.
The American’s answer to the English Monument, he came up with the idea after his beloved Father’s death in 1962 and is a way to pay tribute to him. The township of Alliance was at first opposed to the idea but are now grateful as they enjoy the tourist dollars.
7. Floralis Generica
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Designed, paid for, and given to the people of Buenos Aries by Argentine Architect Eduardo Catalano, this huge flower actually opens every morning to an incredibly enormous 105 feet (34 meters) wide. When it closes at sunset every evening, it is 175 feet (58 meters) tall. It stands in a pool of water just a few feet away from the Natural Museum of Fine Arts and operates by four pistons that open and close the giant and beautiful flower every day. The motion of the flower mimics the actual motion of a real flower and is incredible to see. The statue weighs an amazing 18 tons. The petals are made of reflective aluminum and you can see the surrounding city in them.
The flower opens and closes every day except for May 25, September 21, December 24, and December 31, on which nights it stays open to grace the night with its beauty.
8. The Giant Turd
Ponta Grossa, Brazil
The reason for this bizarre monument to be so low in this list is simply because it no longer exists. Much controversy was generated when the “cocozão” (big turd in Portuguese) was erected; nobody in the region of Ponta Grossa seemed to like its design and concept. For the added irony, Ponta Grossa translates to “Thick Tip” making it even more a joke fodder among other Brazilian regions. However, the monument wasn’t meant to symbolize a turd in the first place. The idea was to represent a mix of the region’s pine trees and rock formations, which, obviously didn’t quite came out as intended.
Tired of seeing the city name associated with a giant turd, some inhabitants set it ablaze in 2009 giving the mayor a good pretext to tear it down for good.
9. The Child Eater of Bern
Bern Switzerland is the home of the Kindlifresser, although there is nothing kind about it. The Child Eater has stood ominously since 1546 and there is no record of why it was built. There are a few theories of what this monolith represents as it stuffs a half eaten baby into its mouth to the terror of the three crying babies slung over its shoulder, waiting to sate the monster’s appetite. The first and most probable theory is that the older brother of Duke Berchtold went mad with jealousy over his little brother’s rule, which should have been his. He rounded up the children of Bern and ate them. (Not recorded in Bern history achieves) Another theory is that it was intended as a warning to the Jewish community. The monster wears a hat that closely resembles the Judenhut the Jews were forced to wear upon their heads then to set them apart. Finally, the idol may be that of Kronos, the Greek God that ate his male offspring to prevent them from taking his Throne. Either way, this scary monument has been scaring the children and adults for almost 500 years.
10. Love Land
Jeju island, South Korea
Jeju Island is a popular honeymoon destination for the newlyweds in Korea and nearby countries. In the Island there’s a special theme park, the “Love Land”, which, coming from a county where public display of affection are frowned upon makes it even stranger for someone to come up with such concept. In this park everything is sex oriented, with emphasis on the statues scattered around it. From giant vaginas and penises, to every kind of sexual position and kinkiness only found in the naughtiest pages of the Kama sutra this is certainly a unique theme park. Just don’t go visit it with your parents.