By Faridah Dahalan on June 14, 2019


To enjoy art, one does not necessarily have to go in and out from one gallery after another. Some artworks, particularly sculptures, are instead placed out in the open and exposed to the elements.  These sculptures add colour and emotion to even the mundane part of the cities. Travellers get the chance to see artists’ imaginations run freely and gain a sense of the cities they visit. As such, here is a compilation of memorable sculptures that add pleasure to tourists’ visit by converging the past, present and future.

1.Shoes on The Danube (Budapest, Hungary)

Strolling down the edges of Danube, travellers will stumble upon the memorial for Jews massacred by Arrow Cross Party whose ideologies were similar to Hitler’s. The organisation terrorised Jews in Budapest by slaughtering, beating and exiling them out of Hungary. The Danube River witnessed the holocaust atrocities when approximately 20,000 Jews who were shot point blank at the edge of the river. The Jews were forced to take off their shoes only to be shot at the back by the firing squad. The bodies then fell into the river to be washed away, which was a common practice in 1944-1945. Shoes on The Danube consists of 60 pairs of 1940s shoes made from iron as memorial. Sculptors Can Togay and Gyula Pauer created the shoes in varied styles: men’s loafers, women’s heels and even tiny shoes of children to depict that no one was spared from the horror.


2.The Black Ghost (Klaipeda, Lithuania)

Don’t be alarmed when you encounter this eerie hooded figure with long fingers gripping the dock at Klaipeda, Lithuania. Despite its frightening vibe, the 2.4 meters sculpture is actually a friendly spirit. Legend has it that in 1595, one of Klaipeda Castle guards saw the ghost stepping out of the water. The paranormal guest warned the guard that the town’s grain and timber may be running out then vanished into thin air.  The creepy bronze statue located in Memel Castle is also known as Juodasis Vaiduoklis in Lithuanian. Travellers who come to this seaside town by cruise will first see this sculpture created by Svajunas Jurkus and Sergejus Plotnikovas.

Don’t let the friendly ghost spook you. Photo by Dalia Račkauskaitė

3.Les Voyageurs (Marseilles, France)


Bruno Catalano created beautifully imperfect sculptures of men and women in commute, each carrying a suitcase. At the tender age of 12, Bruno Catalano left Morocco to move to France. He became a sailor and travelled the world in his 20s. Les Voyageurs honours the nomadic lifestyle, having to leave a part of themselves behind at every travel. The sculptures are anything but subtle, especially all of them are missing critical part of their bodies. Each statue looks frail but delicately held together by a suitcase it carries. Travellers can find these surreal ten-piece series in Marseilles.

Man and woman sculptures that embodies nomadic lifestyle. Photo by

4.Building Bridges (Venice, Italy) 

If you are in the romantic city of Venice between 10 May and 24 November 2019, you should see Lorenzo Quinn’s yet another large-scale hand sculpture, this time in the form of six pairs of hands, each 15 metres high and 20 metres wide, made from white resin similar to white marbles paved around the city. The gigantic masterpiece over the waterway of Castello District symbolises six important values in life. Two palms gently touching forming a symmetrical statue signalling trust and support. The virtue of hope is expressed by the initial joining of interlaced fingers. Apart from holding the virtues of friendship, love, faith, and wisdom, the iconic sculpture symbolises people building a better world by overcoming their differences.

Trust, hope friendship, love, faith, and wisdom depicted in Building Bridges. Photo by Halcyon Art International

5.The Knotted Gun (New York City, Unites States of America)

The purpose of this pro-peace sculpture is a tribute to John Lennon who was shot outside his home in 1980. The amazing artwork belongs to Swedish artist, Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, who is also a friend of the Beatles’ peace-loving activist, singer and songwriter. The bronze Colt Phython 357 Magnum revolver with its barrel tied in knot have become the symbol of non-violence and peaceful conflict resolution. The refreshing idea of the sculpture catches on since 30 replicas of it have been erected throughout the globe in cities like Beijing, Berlin and Stockholm.

6.Maman (Ottawa, Canada)

Maman at first glance might evoke the feeling of fear and creepiness since it resembles a spider – the statue might make even scare arachnophobics. Despite its intimidating look, the towering sculpture is plumbed from the depth of the artist’s torment of her mother’s death. Grief-stricken by her loss, Louise Bourgeois threw herself in Bievre River in France trying to drown herself. Louise explained the spider is an ode to her mother, hence the name Maman, which means my mother in French. Much like her mother, the sculpture combines strength and vulnerability, carrying her precious eggs in steel cage body balanced by long slender legs that indicate poignant frailty. The sculpture became a success and installed around the world since 1999.

7.Release (KwaZulu Natal Midlands, South Africa)

This remarkable sculpture of Nelson Mandela was developed to commemorate the 50 years of the peace activist’s imprisonment by the apartheid police. The 50 columns of steel indicate the 50 years Nelson had to endure behind bars. The sculpture is installed at KwaZulu Natal Midlands, the same place Nelson was arrested in 1962 for his work to bring equal rights to the nation. Marco Cainfanelli’s artwork was unveiled on 4 August 2012.

The 50 columns of steels align to form an image of Nelson Mandela’s face. Photo by


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One Comment

  1. dansontheroad says:

    I would definitely jump out of my skin if I encountered the Black Ghost sculpture even after reading about it here!


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