If you’re an experienced traveler, then you know that no matter where you go in the world there’s going to be a monument to something or someone. It’s just an accepted fact that any place worth visiting has a statue, plaque, or whatever commemorating a historical relevant event, person, or thing. Sometimes they don’t even have to recognize anything and are just public works of art that have been so embraced by the locals that they become cultural symbols.
Monuments can range from the iconic (Think the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.) to the obscure (Ever heard of the De Vries Monument in Lewes, Delaware?), and EVERYTHING in between (File the Samuel Whittemore monument in Arlington, Massachusetts under “surprisingly awesome!”). That means, of course, there are weird monuments. And we mean weird.
So if your favorite memories from trips involve all the WTF sights you happen upon, here’s a list of off-kilter and truly odd monuments that you have to see in person.
Boll Weevil Monument | Enterprise, Alabama
Downtown Enterprise, Alabama is home to the Boll Weevil Monument. Featuring a statue of a woman in a flowing robe holding a giant boll weevil beetle above her head, the monument was erected in 1919 by local residents hailing the insect as a “herald of prosperity.”
What truly makes this monument unique is not that it’s a giant beetle in the center of a small town, but what it commemorates. Swarms of boll weevils devastated cotton crops throughout the southern Unites States during the early 1900s. Farms and industries in the area around Enterprise were forced to diversify and thus found new opportunities and wealth. They don’t call it Enterprise for nothing.
Next time you’re bitten by the travel bug, consider heading to this tiny town in the southeastern corner of Alabama.
Kindlifresserbrunnen | Bern, Switzerland
If seeing the word Kindlifresserbrunnen makes you think, “that’s a mouthful!” wait till you find out what this German word means! The term translates to English as “Child Eater Fountain” and is the name for a fountain in the Swiss capital of Bern with a statue at its center depicting an ogre gobbling down an infant and holding a sack with more babies presumably to be devoured next.
Why? Good question. No one really knows what Renaissance sculptor, Hans Gieng had in mind when he crafted the fountain features in 1545 but the three main theories are that it reflected anti-foreigner attitudes of the Middle Ages, is a representation of Krampus (the Alpine Christmas monster who punished misbehaving children), or based on the Greek myth of Cronus eating his children.
Yep, there’s a lot more to see in Switzerland than the slopes!
Saint Wenceslas Riding a Dead Horse | Prague, Czech Republic
If the previous post didn’t convince that it’s possible for Europe’s most beautiful cities some of its weirdest statues. Case in point: the one of Saint Wenceslas riding an upside down dead horse. Suspended in air inside Lucerna Palace, the work is by local sculptor David Černý. It was installed in and is a surrealist response to a stature of a most traditionally mounted Wenceslas, which can be seen just outside the palace. And yep, Saint Wenceslas is the same as the “good king” Wenceslas of Christmas carol fame.
It’s definitely something to see between all the cathedrals, beer halls, and strolls across Charles Bridge.
Other unusual monuments and public art in Prague include Černý’s Babies crawling up the city’s television tower, Jaroslav Róna’s Memorial to Franz Kafta (a man riding piggyback on a larger headless man), a few Soviet-era monuments and memorials and odder looking commemorative pieces of public art.
Monument to Enemas | Zheleznovodsk, Russia
Not only did the folks of Russian Caucasus town Zheleznovodsk think their town needed an enema but reckoned they should celebrate it with a monument. Modeled after Italian Renaissance artist Alessandro Botticelli’s painting, Venus & Mars, the five-foot, 800-pound bronze statue by Russian artist Svetlana Avakova is shaped like a syringe bulb and supported on the wings of cherubs.
It can be viewed outside the city’s Mashuk-Akva Term spa. The spa’s director Alexander Kharchenko is quoted as saying the enema “is almost a symbol of our region.”
Manneken Pis | Brussels, Belgium
Mannken Pis is a small bronze sculpture depicting a naked little boy peeing into a fountain’s basin. Designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy the Elder between 1618 and 1619, the cheeky landmark is a city icon and probably the most widely known symbol for Brussels.
As the capital of Belgium and the host of the official seat of the European Union, it’s nice to see Brussels doesn’t take itself so seriously. When you visit, you’re sure to notice locals are friendly and welcoming. And don’t worry! Public urination isn’t rampant or actually encouraged!
Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue | TsonjinBoldog, Mongolia
Completed in 2008, this ginormous monument to Genghis Khan is of historic proportion. The colossal stainless steel statue of the Mongolian conqueror on horseback is 130 feet tall with a 33-foot tall base that doubles as a coliseum and visitor center. The monument is about 30 miles outside of the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar and can be seen for miles away.
For a selfie that takes in the entirety of the statue, you’ll need to pose at least a few miles from it.
Know any weird monuments that we left out? Please fill us in with a word in the comments section below. Thanks!