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Top 10 Must-See Famous Statues

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by George Pacheco

These must-see famous statues are some of the most recognizable structures in the world! Join us for our list of the most famous sculptures and statues the world has to offer. Along the way we'll see Greek Statues (Venus de Milo), Buddha statues (Leshan Giant Buddha), Bronze statues (the Statue of Liberty), Marble Statues (Michelangelo’s David), Egyptian Statues (Great Sphinx of Giza) and of course Rio's Brazilian wonder Christ the Redeemer.

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Script written by George Pacheco

Top 10 Iconic Statues

They’re some of the most instantly recognizable structures in the world. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Iconic Statues. 
For this list, we’re ranking the most impressive and widely known statues from around the world. Size, scope and construction will be taken into consideration, but we will also be judging how these statues have inserted themselves into the public consciousness and remained there.

#10: The Thinker

This bronze sculpture by French artist Auguste Rodin stands in the garden of Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum, and is often used to represent the study of philosophy and its impact on humanity. Rodin first began what would become the Thinker in 1880, but the contemplative work we know and love today did not arrive until 1904. Essentially a nude male figure, he appears lost in deep thought, with his chin resting on one hand, presumably contemplating such ideas as existence and knowledge. It’s a memorable image, and one that often serves as inspiration for the poets, artists, writers and musicians who visit it on a daily basis.

#9: The Motherland Calls

Notable as the tallest female statue in the world, serving as a symbol of Russian pride, and rivaling the famed Worker and Kolkhoz Woman sculptures, The Motherland Calls represents Russia’s victory in Stalingrad against the Axis Powers during World War II. Utilizing a combination of concrete and wire rope, sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich and structural engineer Nikolai Nikitin collaborated on the project, which depicts a warrior woman with a sword in her right hand, and a welcoming gesture with her left. Indeed, the Motherland Calls remains an impressive piece of art to this day, standing not only as a memory of Russian military prowess, but of the country itself.

#8: Terracotta Army

While many statues are impressive because of their volume, the Terracotta Army is impressive based on its sheer quantity. This collection of horses, warriors and chariots, was buried with China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang,with the intent of offering him protection during his journey to the afterlife and is made up of thousands of individual sculptures. Since its 1974 discovery, the 3rdcentury BCE Terracotta Army has earned international appreciation, thanks to its impressive image of ancient, feudal China. Other, non-military figures were also carved and buried in other pits, including acrobats and musicians, which were likely intended to keep the Emperor amused and entertained!

#7: Leshan Giant Buddha

This Tang Dynasty statue is a huge, impressive structure indeed, standing at 233 feet tall and carved out of a cliff face in southern China, near the city of Leshan. It is the largest stone statue of Buddha in the world, and is said to have taken so much material out of the cliff during its construction that the currents of the surrounding Dadu, Minjiang and Qingyi rivers were changed, due to falling deposits. The creators of the Leshan Giant Buddha even constructed a drainage system in order to minimize weathering damage from the surrounding elements. This has kept the iconic statue in surprisingly good shape, especially considering its over 1300 year history.

#6: Venus de Milo 

There are plenty of iconic Greek sculptures out there, but this one might be one of the most famous. The Venus de Milo was likely constructed around 100 B.C., and is representative of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and desire. The most famous aspect of the Venus de Milo - her absent limbs - actually has nothing to do with its construction, but rather its condition. The statue, also known as the Aphrodite of Milos, was actually discovered like this on the Greek island ofMilos prior to it being displayed in The Louvre in France, and yet this damage has only gone on to serve as one of the ancient Greek sculpture’s most memorable and defining characteristics.

#5: Statue of Liberty

This gigantic and iconic statue serves not only as one of the most easily recognizable sculptures in the entire world, but also a national symbol of freedom and of the country of the United States. Designed in copper by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, the statue was gifted to America from the people of France in 1886. The date of America’s Declaration of Independence is inscribed upon Lady Liberty’s tablet of law.  Meanwhile, the shattered shackles of oppression lie at her feet, representing the country’s tolerance of immigrants within its borders, and serving as a symbol of hope, freedom and justice for all who enter.

#4: Michelangelo’s David

The Biblical figure of King David has been cast by many sculptors over the course of history, but it is Michelangelo’s marble depiction of him that is probably the most well known in the world. The sculpture combines male beauty, form and strength in its representation of a nude David, with eyes affixed firmly in a telling and defiant stare. The Biblical king’s reputation as a wise and fearsome warrior was well documented in such stories as his battle with Goliath, while the statue’s home city of Florence was often threatened by larger rivals, such as Rome. With David’s symbolic protection, however, Florence felt it had enough strength to survive and thrive against adversity.

#3: Moai

These mysterious and ominous statues serve as the stoic guardians of Easter Island, a Pacific island near the Polynesian Triangle. The Moai statues are defined by their large and imposing heads, which sit atop sturdy bodies carved from tuff, a type of rock that is formed from volcanic ash. The Moai were carved by the Rapa Nui, the indigenous Polynesians of Easter Island who see the statues as their most precious resource. Indeed, the Rapa Nui absolutely depend upon on tourism and all of the travelers who come to the small Chilean island to see these iconic sculptures in the flesh.

#2: Christ the Redeemer

This gigantic symbol of Christianity is one of the most easily recognizable statues in the world, thanks to its depiction of a regal Jesus Christ whose outstretched arms welcome all who enter into the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Christ the Redeemer possesses a truly international construction history, with its face having been designed by Romanian artist Gheorghe Leonida, with the other members of the collaborative team including France’s Albert Caquot, the Polish-French artist Paul Landowski, as well as Brazil’s own Heitor da Silva Costa. Its sheer size and scope are impressive when seen from land, sea AND air, so much so that Christ the Redeemer has been listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.  
Before we reveal our top iconic statue, here are a few honorable mentions!
Lion’s Mound
The Little Mermaid
Olmec Colossal Heads
African Renaissance Monument
Laocoön and His Sons

#1: Great Sphinx of Giza

This great mythological creature traditionally possesses the body of a lion and the head of a human – and depending on whether we were talking ancient Greek or Ancient Egypt - sometimes giant wings from an eagle. The Great Sphinx of Giza – which, like most Egyptian sphinxes, doesn’t have wings - is the most regal andiconic of all the sculpted sphinxes in the world, standing as the largest monolith at over 241 feet long and 66 feet high. The human face of The Great Sphinx is said to represent that of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Khafra of the 4th dynasty. However, there are many mysteries swirling around the actual construction and purpose of the Great Sphinx, including how its nose became damaged and missing, which has led to archeological discussions that continue to this very day.
Do you agree with our list? Which statue do you feel is the most iconic? For more impressive top ten lists, published daily, be sure to subscribe to!

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