Standing before a massive, important statue is humbling. You are in front of a piece of history, in front of a person or being so important to a country or city that its citizens wanted to immortalize them in stone. Here are eight of the most photographed statues in the world.
Atlas, New York, U.S.A.
The iconic statue of Atlas has appeared in multiple movies and television shows, including Saturday Night Live. It is located right in front of Manhattan's Rockefeller Center, where S.N.L. and other shows are taped, but that isn't the only reason why it is special. This statue, inspired by the Titan of Greek mythology who was doomed to carry the world on his shoulders after heading up a war against the gods, was created by Lee Lawrie and Rene Paul Chambellan and is so influential that is has appeared on two U.S. postage stamps.
Angel of Independence, Mexico City, Mexico
Located on Reforma Avenue in Mexico City, this golden statue is meant to be a symbol of Mexico's capital city. The golden woman at the top is actually the Roman goddess Victoria, the goddess of victory. In one hand she holds a crown made of laurel to place on the heads of those who helped to free Mexico from Spanish rule, and in the other hand she holds a broken chain to symbolize the country's freedom after 300 years of oppression.
Maligawila Buddha Statue, Maligawila, Sri Lanka
There are many impressive Buddha statues in the world, but this is one of the most incredible. Towering over Sri Lanka at 37 feet tall, this is the tallest free-standing Buddha statue in the country. It is located near the city of Maligawila and is made entirely of carved limestone. Incredibly, this statue was created in the 7th century, but seemingly disappeared for a time until 1951, when it was found in pieces. The pieces were then put back together, and the statue has continued to stand tall ever since.
Ushiku Daibutsu, Ibaraki, Japan
If you liked that big Buddha, you'll love this next one. The Ushiku Daibutsu in Ibaraki, Japan, stands an incredible 394 feet tall. It is so tall, in fact, that you have to take an elevator up 279 feet to a viewing gallery to take the perfect photo of it. To make it even more amazing, this statue is made of bronze and weighs in at nearly 4000 tons. Unlike many of the other Buddha statues in the world that were built in ancient times, this one was built fairly recently, in 1993, to celebrate the birth of Shinran, the founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism.
The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's beloved story of a mermaid who left behind everything she knew to stay on land with her human prince, this Little Mermaid has been sitting atop a rock at Langelinie Pier in Copenhagen for more than 100 years. The statue was gifted to the city from a Danish brewer named Carl Jacobsen, and it has had quite the difficult life. Three times her head has been broken off, as has her arm, and she has had to be repainted five times. But yet she still sits there today, staring out over the water, hoping to catch a glimpse of her prince.
Statue of David, Florence, Italy
Michelangelo's David is one of the most famous pieces of art in the entire world. This nude, incredibly lifelike representation of the Biblical David was created between 1501 and 1504 and stands at 14 feet tall. You can see it up close at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy.
The Statue of Liberty, New York, U.S.A.
This "gift of friendship" from France has been standing since 1886, welcoming immigrants into this young country. Visitors can take photos of the statue itself, or they can go inside the statue and take photos of the view from the crown at the top of her head. To give you a few statistics, the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet tall and made of enough copper to make 30 million pennies. It is this copper that gives it its greenish hue — years of oxidation have changed it into the iconic green color we know today.
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This gargantuan statue of Jesus Christ stands at 98 feet tall with an arm span of 92 feet, but it isn't just its size that makes it unique. The statue's placement on a 26-foot-high stone pedestal atop a 2,310-foot mountain gives this statue an almost otherworldly feel as it stares out over the city with its arms stretched wide.