Statues and monuments worth visiting: The 10 most extraordinary statues in the world

You would think that Christ the Redeemer, the famous statue that towers over Rio de Janeiro, is big. You would also think the Statue of Liberty is big. But you haven't seen anything yet.

Christ the Redeemer stands 30 metres high. Lady Liberty is 46 metres tall. You could stack the two on top of each other, and then stack another Liberty on top of that, and this combined edifice would still not be as high as the world's tallest statue, the 128-metre image of the Buddha in Lushan, China. Now that's a big statue.

In fact, Buddha is big, full stop. On the list of the world's tallest statues, that famous deity features an extraordinary amount of times. Five of the world's 10 largest statues are of the Buddha. Three more of that 10 are associated with Buddhism. Bigger is most definitely better in the Buddhist world.

So in this list of the world's largest statues, we've gone more for "interesting" or "noteworthy", rather than purely gigantic. Some are of the Buddha. Some are not. But they're all outsized likenesses that are worthy of a visit.

Spring Temple Buddha

Lushan, China

The tallest statue in the world. It's that simple. This likeness of the Vairocana Buddha in central China is a whopping 128 metres tall, which makes it just a tick lower than the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you take into account the pedestal it's placed in, this statue is 153 metres high. The Buddha cost $55 million to make, weighs 18,000 tonnes, and sits on top of a monastery. Oh, and there's a hot spring nearby.

Cristo de la Concordia

Cochabamba, Bolivia

Here's the thing about Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro: it's not even the world's largest Jesus. That honour goes to Christ the King in Poland, which stands at 36 metres high; this guy, meanwhile, Cristo de la Concordia in Bolivia, is 34.2 metres, which still makes him taller than his famous Brazilian counterpart. Cristo sits atop San Pedro Hill near Cochabamba, and is accessible by cable car – for the tourists, no doubt – or by climbing 2000 steps, for the more masochistic or devout.

Chimalli Warrior

Chimalhuacan, Mexico


How do you get people to notice your statue? Make it really big, for starters. Say, 50 metres tall – bigger than a 10-storey building. Then, make it look a bit like a Transformer. And, finally, paint it bright red. That's what designers of the Guerrero  Chimalli, the statue of an ancient Chimalli warrior in Chimalhuacan, just outside Mexico City, did, and it's been quite effective. You can't miss this thing from anywhere in the city or its surrounds.

Emperors Yan and Huang

Zhengzhou, China

Take a short break, Buddha, and let someone else have some glory. In this case it's Yan Di and Huang Di – not the latest hip-hop duo, but two of China's earliest emperors, whose chiselled features now gaze out over the landscape in the Henan Province in the centre of the country. It took sculptors 20 years to create these two 106-metre-high faces, and they're an impressive sight indeed.

Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue

Tsonjin Boldog, Mongolia

Genghis Khan was an almost universally feared leader who conquered half the known world in the 13th century, pillaging and burning in a reign of abject terror as he went. So of course, you'd want to build a monument to his deeds. An enormous, 40-metre-high stainless-steel monument that sits in the middle of nowhere, dominating the skyline for miles and miles around. That's what the Mongolians have done for their famous historical figure, dedicating this colossus of a statue in 2008.

The Motherland Calls

Volgograd, Russia

If the Motherland does indeed call, then it calls loudly, because this statue on Mamayev Hill in Volgograd is the tallest in both Russia and Europe, stretching the tape to 85 metres (FYI, that's more than two Statues of Liberty). This is a memorial to the soldiers who died in the Battle of Stalingrad, and was the tallest statue in the world when it was dedicated in 1967 – though it has since been overtaken by an army of giant Buddhas.

Virgen de la Paz

Trujillo, Venezuela

The Virgin Mary has always been big in Central and South America – figuratively, spiritually, and also literally. This statue of the Virgin in Venezuela stands 47 metres tall, making it the world's largest Mary (just in front of a 45-metre-high Maria in Oruro, Bolivia). It's notable for its boxy artistic style, and its spectacular location, on a forested mountaintop where the Virgin was said to have appeared in the year 1570.

African Renaissance Monument

Dakar, Senegal

Builders from North Korea were called in to make this ambitious project in the Senegalese capital a reality, and they got the job done – though not without controversy. It isn't cheap, obviously, to build a 49-metre-high bronze monument commemorating your country's independence from France, and this one was no exception, clocking in at $US27 million. It's  also kind of ugly, and, some have claimed, not very African. Awks.

Ushiku Daibutsu

Ushiku, Japan

This is another giant Buddha, though this time in Japan rather than China. In the town of Ushiku, about an hour outside Tokyo, you'll find this 120-metre-high monstrosity, an Amitabha Buddha cast in bronze, which weighs some 4000 tonnes. The Buddha's ears are 10 metres long. His nose is 1.2 metres. Visitors can also take an elevator 85 metres up into the statue, to enjoy the views from the observation floor.

Statue of Liberty

New York, USA

Perhaps the world's most famous statue is surprisingly small, on a global scale, measuring a mere 46 metres. The Statue of Liberty, on Liberty Island in the New York borough of Manhattan, was a gift from the people of France to the United States, dedicated in 1886, and depicts Libertas, the Roman goddess. Only 240 people per day are allowed to ascend inside the statue to the crown – tickets can be reserved up to a year in advance.