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Some statues are so enormous, so intricately designed, that they dominate the landscapes of the towns and cities in which they are located, becoming tourist attractions in their own right. From the Statue of Liberty to a 420-foot-tall statue of Buddha, discover nine of the world's tallest statues you have to see to believe.
The Motherland Calls (Volgograd, Russia)
Standing on a grassy hill that overlooks Volgograd (modern-day Stalingrad) is the world’s tallest statue of a woman, not including pedestals. “The Motherland Calls" depicts a 172-foot-tall woman stepping forward with her arms outstretched, holding a 108-foot-long sword up to the sky. From its base, the total height of the statue is 279 feet. The statue symbolizes Russia (“the Motherland”) calling its people into battle. Designed by Yevgeny Vuchetich, the statue took eight years to complete; upon its unveiling in 1967, it was the world’s tallest. “The Motherland Calls” is the focal point of a memorial complex that commemorates the Battle of Stalingrad, which took place during World War II. A 200-step staircase, which represents the 200-day duration of the battle, leads from the foot of the complex to the statue’s base.
Great Buddha of Thailand (Ang Thong, Thailand)
The striking gold color of the 302-foot-tall and 210-foot-wide Great Buddha of Thailand contrasts magnificently with the green pastures that surround it. The statue, called “Buddha Calling the Earth to Witness,” is a representation of Siddhartha Buddha in the seated and cross-legged position. Visitors can climb a staircase to the base of the Buddha and then reach up to touch his long fingers for good luck. The tallest Buddha statue in Thailand, it took 18 years to build and was completed in 2008. The golden Buddha is located within the Wat Muang monastery complex, which also features a garden filled with statues that celebrate many different cultures, religions, and ideologies. One section, known as Hell Garden, showcases an off-beat collection of vivid artwork depicting scenes from Buddhist hell.
Statue of Liberty (New York, New York)
The crowning glory of New York Harbor’s Liberty Island doesn’t need much of an introduction. With her arm held triumphantly in the air and brandishing a torch, the Statue of Liberty rises 305 feet from the base of the pedestal to the tip of the torch’s flame. Lady Liberty has 25-foot-long feet, which means she’d need a U.S. women’s size 879 shoe. Gifted to the United States by France, Lady Liberty has welcomed arrivals to New York City since she was unveiled in 1886. A 354-step staircase travels up to a viewing platform inside the statue’s crown, which affords spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, but there are also stunning views from both the pedestal and the island’s riverside pathway. History buffs can delve into the statue’s story at an interactive museum.
Motherland Monument (Kiev, Ukraine)
Looming over Kiev’s Dnieper River is the sword-wielding Motherland Monument (also known as Rodina-Mat). This steel structure of a 153-foot-tall woman honors the Soviet victory in World War II. In her left hand, she holds a shield emblazoned with the State Emblem of the Soviet Union. The entire statue is 335 feet tall, including the 52-foot sword and 130-foot-high pedestal. The pedestal doesn’t just support the statue; it houses the five-story National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War. Yevgeny Vuchetich, who also designed “The Motherland Calls” in Russia, began work on the statue in 1979, and after he passed away, Vasyl Borodai completed it in 1981.
Birth of the New World (Arecibo, Puerto Rico)
Perched above the sugar-sand Caribbean beaches of Puerto Rico’s northern coastline is North America’s tallest statue. The 350-foot-tall "Birth of the New World" comprises 6,500 tons of bronze, copper, and steel, and depicts Christopher Columbus on his voyage toward the Americas. It’s the work of Zurab Tsereteli, a Russian artist known for his often controversial and large-scale projects. Curiously, Puerto Rico wasn't the planned site of the statue. It was first offered to several U.S. cities in the early 1990s to mark the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ landfall in 1492. They all turned it down due to its size and the concerns of Native American activists, and it found a home in Arecibo in 2016. A year later, the statue managed to survive Hurricane Maria and still towers over the Caribbean Sea.
Ushiku Daibutsu (Ushiku, Japan)
Towering Buddha statues are a common theme throughout Asia. One of them, Ushiku Daibutsu, stands in the heart of a gorgeous park filled with blooming flowers, an hour outside of Tokyo. Rising to a height of 394 feet, this depiction of the celestial Amitabha Buddha is about as tall as a 38-story building. It honors the birth of Shinran, an ancient monk who founded the Shin Buddhism school. The statue, completed in 1993, is remarkable in size and detail from the outside, but the interior is equally spectacular. After entering via a lotus platform, visitors are led to a room with some 3,000 golden Buddha images. It’s also possible to ride an elevator to a lookout deck, from which the rooftops of Tokyo are visible on exceptionally clear days. Those visiting during summertime can attend a light and fireworks show.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana (Bali, Indonesia)
To find the tallest statue of a Hindu god, you’ll have to travel to the southern tip of the island of Bali. Garuda Wisnu Kencana has a total height of 397 feet, which is made up of a 246-foot-tall statue and a 151-foot pedestal. This behemoth landmark depicts the mythological story of Lord Vishnu and his bird Garuda, which has an impressive 210-foot wingspan. In Hindu mythology, the eagle-like Garuda is a symbol of freedom. The entire statue weighs about 3,000 tons and takes center stage inside the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park. The park offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the cultural heritage of both Bali and Indonesia. It also hosts traditional music and dance performances and has panoramic viewpoints, restaurants, Segway tours, and a souvenir shop.
Spring Temple Buddha (Lushan County, China)
Towering over a backdrop of forested hills in eastern China, the 420-foot-tall Spring Temple Buddha is the tallest religious statue on the planet, constructed over an 11-year period beginning in 1997. Made from a mixture of copper, gold, and steel, the gilded statue is a representation of the Vairocana Buddha. The celestial Buddha stands on a lotus flower throne, which sits atop two huge pedestals that bring the total height of the structure to 682 feet. Among the many intricate features are two staircases that take visitors up to the statue’s feet. Both have 12 flights and 365 steps to symbolize the months and days of the year.
Statue of Unity (Gujarat, India)
Unveiled in 2018 with a jaw-dropping 597-foot height (790 feet including the base), the Statue of Unity is the world’s tallest statue. This landmark commemorates the life of notable statesman Sardar Patel, who was a supporter of Mahatma Gandhi and the first deputy prime minister of an independent India. Known as the Iron Man of India, Patel campaigned to unite India’s princely states with the British colonial provinces. The Statue of Unity faces the sprawling Sardar Sarovar Dam and Narmada River basin in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The complex surrounding it features a memorial garden, exhibitions about Patel, and a 503-foot-high viewing gallery. Visitors can also attend a laser light and sound show that includes a narration of Patel’s contribution to the unified and independent nation.