World Sculptures to Admire On Your Travel Adventures

May 21, 2023

Many countries pride themselves on famous sculptures, which often become tourist attractions in their own right, or have great symbolic significance for the city in which they are located. If you’ve booked your travel insurance from Europesure, because you are travelling abroad from the UK or your home in Europe this year, you may well see some sculptures, either from this round-up below, or which you could add to our list of must-see public and civic art around the world.

Famous sculptures our UK and European travel insurance clients might enjoy

1. Florence, Italy: Michelangelo's David

Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy boasts some of the world's most famous sculptures, including Michelangelo's David.  To see this impressive marble sculpture you must visit the Galleria Dell'Accademia Di Firenze in Florence.

Michelangelo was just 25 in 1501, the year in which he created the statue  - a task for which he was paid 400 ducats by the Florence Cathedral. In 1504, the finished statue was unveiled to citizens at the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio, with the work of art symbolising strength and independence.

When looking at David, you might notice that his right hand is disproportionately large compared to his body. This is said to be because David was 'manu fortis' - strong of hand.

2. Paris, France: The Thinker and the Venus de Milo

Paris is home to one of the most celebrated sculptures, The Thinker, located in the Musee Rodin gardens.  This bronze, conceived in 1888 by Auguste Rodin, is a statue of a pensive nude male.  Originally called The Poet, the figure was intended to form part of The Gates of Hell; bronze doors for a new museum of decorative arts in Paris.  Although the museum was never built, Rodin continued to work on the figure which he re-named, The Thinker, and exhibited as a single statue.

Paris is also home to another world-famous statue, which you can see at The Louvre.  This is the Venus de Milo, a masterpiece of Greek sculpture.  Believed to be a representation of the goddess Aphrodite, she was carved from marble by Alexandros, a sculptor living around 150 BCE.  Discovered damaged and abandoned on an Aegean island in 1820, she was presented to King Louis XVIII, who donated her to the Louvre.

3. Brussels, Belgium: The Mannekin Pis

The Manneken Pis has become one of Brussels’ most important landmarks and a symbol of the city.  Designed in 1388, perhaps as an homage to local tanners, whose children peed in the street, this bronze statue depicts a 50cm-tall, naked boy urinating into a fountain's basin. It is found in the old part of town, two blocks behind the town hall,  between Rue de L'Étuve and Rue Chene, next to the Grand Place (Grote Markt). Many legends have surrounded this unassuming statue throughout the years, including the fact that the little boy once put out a fire in this manner, but which are true?  The water feature was definitely once a source of drinking water for local citizens (Bruxellois) and is much-loved by citizens, who have been creating outfits for the boy, since 1698, when a governor presented him with a tunic.  He now has a wardrobe of around 1000 and you can see all, including an Elvis and bullfighter costume, in the Musée de la Ville, housed in La Maison du Roi.  The boy’s lesser-known sister, Jeanneke Pis, is found nearby but does not enjoy such celebrity status!

(Do not think that travel insurance is not required for countries like France and Belgium, if you are an EU resident.  All sorts of things can happen, from falling ill and being taken to a private hospital, where healthcare would be charged for, to having to cancel plans, being robbed, or injuring a third party who then sues.  Don’t take the risk when European travel insurance is so affordable.)

4. Rio de janeiro, Brazil: Christ the Redeemer

If visiting Rio de Janeiro, the striking Christ the Redeemer statue is not hard to find – just look up to the summit of Mount Corcovado and, unless the hillside is shrouded in mist, the statue should be seen towering over the city.  Completed in 1931, it stands at 30 metres tall, with Christ’s arms outstretched and looking out across Rio.  It is the largest Art Deco-style sculpture in the world and an iconic emblem of both Rio and the country of Brazil.

The statue was first imagined in 1850, by the Vincentian priest, Pedro Maria Boss, but it wasn't until 1921 that a proposal put forward by Roman Catholic archdiocese was approved and building began. For a fascinating insight into the construction process, take a look at this Daily Mail article and, if planning to see this sight for yourself, make sure you buy worldwide travel insurance, either on a single trip or annual multi-trip basis.

5. Copenhagen, Denmark: The Little Mermaid

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's famous fairy tale of 1836, The Little Mermaid (Den lille Havfrue) was a gift to the city from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen and was sculpted in bronze, by Edvard Eriksen.  She sits on a rock in the water at Langelinie Pier, in the old port district of Nyhavn, and was first unveiled in 1913.  Much smaller than you might imagine (49.2 inches), she still attracts millions of visitors each year.

Jacobsen had been entranced by the story of the Little Mermaid, as performed by the ballet company at the Copenhagen Royal Theatre and he is also said to have been somewhat obsessed with ballerina, Ellen Price de Plane, who he wished to be the model for the sculpture.  As it happened, it was most likely Eriksen’s wife, Eline, who performed that duty, as Ellen felt it beneath her status as a Royal ballerina. The sculpture is of a twin-tailed mermaid, whilst Andersen’s story was of a single-tailed mermaid who saved the life of a shipwrecked prince, fell in love with him and paid a heavy price to become human, losing her beautiful voice and tail.  All was in vain, when he wed another and she turned into sea foam and disappeared forever.

6. New York, USA: The Statue of Liberty

A trip to the Big Apple would not be complete without a closer look at its most famous lady – The Statue of Liberty.  Ferries over to Liberty Island, where the statue is found, depart at set times from Lower Manhattan and New Jersey. 

The statue is a colossal neoclassical sculpture, made of copper and designed by French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi.  She was a gift from the country of France, to commemorate its friendship with the United States, and celebrates freedom.

Whilst visiting the island and statue, be sure to visit the relatively new Statue of Liberty Museum which opened in 2019. Here you can learn more about the sculpture, how she was built and see other unique artefacts and heirlooms.

Travelling the world, and seeing the art of which locals are so proud, can add a lot to a holiday and you can relax and enjoy everything, if you’ve packed the right travel insurance policy.  To find the one to suit you, visit www.europesuretravelinsurance.com

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