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We often find ourselves marveling at the largest geological features on Earth, from the peaks of Mount Everest and K2 to the depths of the Mariana Trench. But humankind has left its own forms of colossal structures.
Built to commemorate memorable historical figures, deities, and events, utterly massive monuments and statues can be found all over the planet. Check out these 35 photos of colossal undertakings that define the word “monumental.”
Lord Murugan (Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia)
Built of 250 tons of steel, 1,550 cubic meters of concrete, and 300 liters of gold paint, the statue of Lord Murugan at the entrance of the Batu Caves is the tallest statue of a Hindu deity in Malaysia. In 2006, the statue was revealed during the festival of Thaipusam.
Spring Temple Buddha (Lushan County, Henan, China)
The Spring Temple Buddha is the single tallest statue on the planet at a height of 128 meters (420 feet). A Buddhist monastery can be found beneath the statue, which is built from roughly 1,100 pieces of copper cast.
Cristo de la Concordia (Cochabamba, Bolivia)
The Bolivian statue of Jesus Christ with his arms spread measures 40.44 meters when the pedestal is included. Reminiscent of the more famous Christ the Redeemer outside Rio, the statue leads visitors up 1,399 stairs to a viewing area within the arms of the statue (only accessible on Sundays).
Ten Directions Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Mount Emei, Sichuan, China)
Completed in 2006, the Ten Directions Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is a 48-meter, ten-headed Bodhisattva Samantabhadra sitting on a four-headed, six-tusked elephant. The base of the statue doubles as a temple. Devotees can enter, pray, and make offerings.
Rodina-Mat zovyot! (Volgograd, Russia)
Rodina-Mat zovyot! is considered a complex engineering feat due to the extended posture of the statue, ("The Motherland Calls" in English). When dedicated in 1967, it was the tallest statue in the world. It weighs 7,900 tons.
Great Buddha of Thailand (Ang Thong, Thailand)
The tallest statue in Thailand, the Great Buddha of Thailand is 92 meters high (the same size as the Statue of Liberty if including its base). Construction began in 1990 but didn't end until 2008. Also known as the Big Buddha, the statue is composed of cement and carries a coat of gold paint.
Cross of the Valle de los Caídos (Madrid, Spain)
At a height of 152 meters, this cross sits atop a massive underground basilica and crypt carved into a granite ridge in the Sierra de Guadarrama. To complete the complex, a Benedictine abbey can be found on the opposite side of the mountain.
Rear-Front (Magnitogorsk, Russia)
Depicting a worker passing a sword to a warrior, Rear-Front is 15 meters in height. Completed in 1979, the statue is part of a “sword triptych” with The Motherland in Volgograd and the Warrior-Liberator in Berlin.
Guan Yin of the South Sea of Sanya (Sanya, Hainan, China)
The statue of Guan Yin measures 108 meters tall, making it the fourth-tallest statue on Earth. It has three aspects, all holding different poses (one faces inland and the remaining two face the South China Sea). The statue (unsurprisingly) took six years to build.
Leshan Giant Buddha (Leshan, China)
Construction of the Leshan Giant Buddha, measuring 71 meters tall, was led by a Buddhist monk named Haitong in the 700s. It is said that he gouged his eyes out in an act of dedication when funding for the construction project was threatened.
Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue (Erdene, Töv Province, Mongolia)
The Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, 40 meters tall, sits on top of the Genghis Khan Statue Complex on the bank of the Tuul River. Visitors can walk up to the head of the horse through the statue's chest and neck.
Mangal Mahadev (Savanne, Mauritius)
Another statue of the Hindu god Shiva (the third tallest, at 33 meters), found on Ganga Talao Lake, was inaugurated in 2007. Mangal Mahadev is a replica of a Shiva statue at Sursagar Lake in Vadodara, Gujarat, India.
Mansudae Grand Monument (Pyongyang, North Korea)
Originally comprising one statue, that of Kim Il-sung, the site was expanded to include a statue of Kim Jong-il in 2012 after the leader's death. Twenty meters in height, the original was completed in 1972. Photographers are told to photograph only the entire statue (not in parts) by their tour leader so as to “avoid causing offense.”
The Merlion of Sentosa (Sentosa Island, Singapore)
An oversized replica of the merlion, a lion-headed fish from mythology, the Merlion of Sentosa is 37 meters tall. In Singapore, the creature is considered to be a national emblem. The republic originally derived its name from a Malay word meaning "lion city."
African Renaissance Monument (Collines des Mamelles, Dakar, Senegal)
Standing 49 meters in height, the African Renaissance Monument depicts a man and woman, with a child held in the man's left arm (as the child points towards the west). The giant statue, which cost $27 million to build and took four years to complete, attracted much controversy during the building process.
The Guardian of the Valleys is a 20-meter statue near the Six Bells Colliery, a coal mine in Wales. It was built in 2010 to commemorate the disaster of 1960, in which an explosion killed 45 men working in the mine. The statue is composed of thousands of steel ribbons.
Photo: The Valley
Erawan Museum (Samut Prakan, Thailand)
Measuring 29 meters, a statue of Erawan (also known as Airavata) makes up Erawan Museum. Erawan, the king-god of elephants, is depicted with three heads. There are three stories within the museum, containing artifacts and relics.
Mevlana Statue (Buca, Izmir, Turkey)
Including its foundation, the statue of Mevlana Rumi (a 13th-century mystic, poet, and theologian) is 20 meters in height. A cafe sits below the statue, which was designed and built by the sculptor Eray Okkan.
Laykyun Setkyar (Khatakan Taung, Myanmar)
The second tallest statue in the world, runner-up to the Spring Temple Buddha, is the 116-meter Laykyun Setkyar. Construction of the statue, which depicts the Gautama Buddha, took nearly 12 years. Two smaller Buddhas (sizable in their own right) can be found nearby.
Statue of Liberty (New York City, United States)
The colossal Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from the people of France. The 46-meter figure is visited by over 3 million people annually. It has developed a green patina due to the oxidization of its copper skin.
Thiruvalluvar Statue (Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India)
In Kanyakumari, one finds the 40-meter statue of Thiruvalluvar, a Tamil poet and philosopher. The total height of the statue and pedestal is 133 feet, signifying the 133 chapters in the Thirukkural (Thiruvalluvar 's classic book).
Hermannsdenkmal (Teutoburger Wald, Nordrhein-Westphalia, Germany)
The 53-meter statue of Cherusci war chief Arminius attracts over 130,000 visitors yearly to the southern region of the Teutoburg Forest. Translated, the sword reads “German unity [is] my strength ‒ my strength [is] Germany's might.”
Lord Shiva Statue at Murudeshwara (Karnataka, India)
Murudeshwara, another name for the Hindu god Shiva, is the town in which this 37-meter statue can be found. The statue is the second tallest of Lord Shiva in the world, costing approximately 50 million rupees to build.
Ushiku Daibutsu (Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan)
One of the tallest statues in the world, Ushiku Daibutsu weighs in at 4,003 tons at a height of 120 meters. The bronze statue is so large it contains four levels (which essentially function as a museum) and an elevator, which takes visitors up 85 meters to an observation floor.
Vulcan Statue (Birmingham, Alabama, United States)
At 17 meters in height, the statue of Vulcan is the largest cast-iron statue on the entire planet. It was originally created as Birmingham's entry for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition - better known as the 1904 World's Fair.
Mactan Shrine (Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines)
Built of bronze and 20 meters tall, the shrine depicts Lapu-Lapu, the native chieftain who defeated Ferdinand Magellan's soldiers in the 1521 Battle of Mactan. Magellan was subsequently killed after the battle. The shrine supposedly sits where the battle took place.
Vishnu Statue (Bukit Peninsula, Bali, Indonesia)
A statue of Vishnu measuring 23 meters in height can be found in Garuda Wisnu Kencana, a cultural park at the southern end of Bali. Additionally, a large statue of Garuda, Vishnu's mythical bird mount, resides in the park.
Dream (St Helens, Merseyside, England)
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. A work of public art by Jaume Plensa, Dream is a sculpture of the elongated head and neck of a woman in a state of meditation. Twenty meters in height, the statue weights in at 500 tons and is composed of white dolomite - a stark contrast to the former coal mine over which the sculpture sits.
Tribute to Courage (Huntsville, Texas)
A 20-meter statue of Sam Houston, an American soldier and politician best known for his efforts in bringing about Texas' independence and statehood, can be found in Hunstville, Texas. Travelers driving by on Interstate 45 can see the statue with ease as they pass.
Mao Zedong (Changsha, Hunan, China)
The monument of Mao Zedong's face was built in 2009 and is 32 meters tall. Depicting Chairman Mao at the young age of 32 (circa 1925), the statue is said to have cost upwards of $35 million to build.
Arch of Reunification (South of Pyongyang, North Korea)
The Arch of Reunification was built to recognize and commemorate the proposals for Korean reunification set forth by Kim Il-sung. Made of concrete and depicting two women holding a sphere together, it reaches over the Reunification Highway, which leads to the DMZ.
Christ Blessing Statue (Manado City, Indonesia)
Thought up by an Indian real estate developer, Christ Blessing stands 50 meters tall. The statue took three years to build and cost roughly 5 billion rupiah. The fiber and steel structure leans at 20 degrees, making the statue appear as if it were flying.
Emperors Yan and Huang (Zhengzhou, Henan, China)
Emperors Yan and Huang measure 106 meters tall. The statues depict Yan Di and Huang Di, two of the earliest emperors of China. It's a safe bet to say the two emperors are the largest facial sculptures in the world.