The "We Are Our Mountains" statue is Nagorno-Karabakh's biggest icon - ok, maybe only icon. You will see this national symbol on postcards and fridge magnets in Armenia way before you even come to Nagorno-Karabakh. It stands on a hill a short drive (or long walk) outside Stepanakert and was built in 1967.
Giant stone statues are the stars on Easter Island (also called Rapa Nui). The Moai, as they are called, were carved out of the side of volcano craters and moved somehow to the shore, where they were lined up to stare over the tiny island. It is a mystery today how they were transported, in some cases to the other side of the island over rugged terrain. The history of Easter Island is full of ancient legends, controversies and guesses – though Thor Heyerdahl's wild speculations about how the island got populated by South Americans is today put to shame by genetic evidence which tells that they came from Polynesia. Due to local warfare, most statues have been knocked over, where some still remain today. Besides the stone faces, the civilisation also left behind petroglyphs (rock drawings), ceremonial villages (more rocks) and a curly alphabet that nobody today can read. Even if old rocks and mad history is not your cup of tea, the Easter Island is still worth a visit just for the sheer fact that it is the most isolated place on earth, being 1900 km from the nearest populated landmass, the Pitcairn.
The ancient capital of China holds a treasure of more than 51,000 stone Buddha reliefs and figures. Carved into the mountain wall, they range from thumb-size to 17 meters colossuses. The variations are dazzling: sitting, standing, dancing, colourful, worn and smiling Buddhas. Originally all covered, the sandstone has washed away in places leaving the huge Buddha in the blazing sun. These are the oldest stone carvings in China. Monks have carved the many figures as part of meditation in the secluded caves. Here you may come to terms with the concept of the "thousand Buddhas", symbolizing the Buddha's omnipresence through time and space. The surrounding area is covered in coal-dust, true mining-China.
When you come to Leshan and see the Giant Buddha, you do not doubt the fact that it is the tallest Buddha in the world. At 71 m tall he sits, carved out of the rock face where the Dadu river meets the Min river. The construction started 713 AD and it took more than 90 years to finish him. So if you come to Chengdu, swing by for a visit, for it is one of those sights that fully live up to their reputation. Just do not come on a holiday, where half of Chengdu seems to be out here.
The Communist Statue Park, or just "Statue Park" (Szoborpark), is a collection of Communist statues and monuments from the Communist period. When the Iron curtain felt in 1989, some enterprising soul saved the disgraced statues and is today displaying them for the joy of tourists. Here you can come face to face with Lenin, Marx, Engels, Dimitrov, Russian Captain Ostapenko, Bela Kun and other "celebrities" from the past, along with a fair amount of hammer-and-sickle.
Located in a limestone hill and consisting of several caves with a series of Hindu temples within, this is one of the most visited sites of Malaysia. What is more striking than nature perhaps, is man made - the world's tallest statue of Lord Muruga stands just outside the entrance at an impressive 42.7 metres. To reach the actual temple complex, visitors have to climb 272 steps amongst local worshippers who do it barefoot. The best time to visit is during the Thaipusam festival, when as many as 800,000 devotees arrive, most carrying kavadis. These elaborately decorated frameworks are supported by metal hooks or pins that pierce the skin, cheeks, and tongue to support their weight and are meant as offerings of sacrifice. The caves themselves are decorated with natural limestone formations and ornately painted sculptures of Hindu Gods. Beware though, of the numerous macaques that will follow your every footstep all the way up those steep steps if you carry any semblance of food.
The lake at Grand Bassin (Ganga Talao) is considered sacred for Hindus. There are several Hindu temples around the lake and on both sides of the road stand two giant statues of Shiva (33 m) and his wife Parvati (not completed). Every year at the end of February (or beginning of March, depending on the lunar calendar) the site turns into the largest Hindu celebration outside India. More than 400 000 believers go on a pilgrimage (Mahashivratree) to the lake as a sacrifice to the gods. However, at all other times the site is rather quiet with an empty wide boulevard and parking lots that seem out of proportions.
The Mongolian countryside is famously vast and equally flat. Add to that the fact that it is also the world's least densely populated country and it becomes easy to understand how far it is possible to travel without interruption. All of a sudden, over the horizon will emerge a huge statue of Mongolia's greatest historical figure, Genghis Khan. At 50 metres high and covered in the shiniest stainless steel, there is no way you can miss it. Take the elevator to the top and spend some time on Khan's horseback, gazing across the Mongolian steppes. If you want proof of the vastness of Mongolia, that's where you'll find it.
A visit to Pyongyang is more a trip back in time than anything else. The broad streets are vacuumed of everything besides political manifests. The few shops that exist do not advertise, the bright blue traffic directors (strangely all makeup-wearing young females) look like something from a children's book, and all the women fancy haircuts from the 50s. Even the subway (which by the way is the deepest in the world, going 120 m underground) looks like a toy model. It is a wicked mix of drab Soviet-style buildings and grand monuments, which are all dedicated to their dear, dead, leader Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il. This fascinating city is built on ideology and fully cleansed from all capitalism - and where else on the planet do such places exist? Welcome to people's paradise!
Clouded in controversies, this monument is considered in eye-sore by many Dakarois. At 52 metres it's the tallest statue in Africa - taller than the Statue of Liberty. To visit the viewing platform on its top is expensive. However, there are decent views of Dakar from its base on top of one of Dakar’s two mamelles – or "breasts". A price tag of €20 million and the fact it's build by the North Koreans are enough to earn the monument some harsh remarks from locals. Add to this that local artists have taking a dislike to its aesthetics and that the religious complaint about the nudity of both the male and female figure. As if all this wasn't enough former President Wade, who initiated the construction, has claimed "intellectual property rights" landing him 35 percent of the entrance income.