Stunning statues steal the show

Which vacationer can resist the ubiquitous happy snap with a statue in a foreign place? No holiday photo album would be complete, or so it seems, without a picture or two taken beside, on top, under or in front of the local sculptures.

And if you have visited New York or Rio de Janeiro, I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that you’ll have snapped the 93m-high Statue of Liberty or perhaps Rio’s 38m-high Christ the Redeemer.

But if you think you have captured the world’s most colossal carvings, think again … because there are even more massive statues scattered around the globe, and many of them were finished just this century.

The Spring Temple Buddha in China’s Henan province tops the ladder at 153m – that is as high as a 40-storey building or half as tall as Melbourne’s prominent skyscraper Eureka Tower. It took just over 10 years to erect and was completed in 2008.

Also completed that year was the Laykyun Setkyar in Myanmar, which at 130m is the second tallest statue in the world. At its feet lies the planet’s longest reclining Buddha.

Still in Asia, and Japan’s Ushiku Daibutsu stands 120m high, while the fourth tallest statue is Guanyin of Weishan, which soars 108m out of the entrance to the South China Sea. Also in China are the decade-old colossal sculptures of the Emperors Yan and Huang, which look down from their 105m perch.

In fact, the first western statue to make it in the tallest stakes is Kiev’s Rodina Mat, a lofty lady of 102m whose stainless steel body weighs 560 tons. Let’s hope the structure housing the museum under Miss Mat is well fortified.

Some consider Lisbon’s Christ the King among the tallest statues in the world, but I beg to differ. The statue component, a chiselled likeness of Jesus, is actually only 28m tall. It is the 82m high pedestal he stands on that gives the structure the bulk of its height.

It will again be in Asia where the next tallest statue in the world will be taking shape if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has his way. He is behind a project to elevate the likeness of Vallabhbhai Patel – a one-time sidekick of Gandhi – 180m high, overlooking a dam in Vadodara.

Back home, apart from the likes of fibreglass Big Bananas or Lobsters, the pickings are slim if you are seeking out giant statues. There are a few impressive ones, though, such as Anmatjere Man and his family, 150km north of Alice Springs. The male statue stands 17m tall and peers over the relative flatness of the Stuart Highway.

Do you know of any other fine statues here or elsewhere? What is the biggest thing you have ever been photographed with?

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Written by Olga Galacho


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