The world’s biggest statues are incredible feats of design and construction. In ancient times, soldiers would build statues in the belief they held magical powers to ensure victory in war and – regardless of size – the world’s great statues represent significant cultural and religious importance. Here are the contenders for the title of the biggest statue in the world.
For the purposes of this article, the quoted heights are for the statues themselves rather than the base or structure they stand on. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the tallest statues in the world.
Christ the Redeemer
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | Height: 30 metres | Built: 1931
Cristo Redentor sits atop the Corcovado mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro. It may not be the biggest statue in the world, but it is one of the world’s most instantly recognisable religious and cultural icons. It welcomes local Cariocas and tourists alike with wide open arms. A collaboration between French-Polish sculptor Paul Landowski, Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida, the 635-tonne statue was opened on October 12th 1931, the day of Brazil’s patron saint Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida, Our Lady Revealed.
Colossus of Rhodes
Where: Rhodes, Greece | Height: Est. 33 metres | Built: 280 BC
The ancient world liked to build big – from huge aqueducts to some of the largest theatres ever constructed – and statues were no exception. One of the biggest statues of the classical era and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes was a bronze of the Greek sun-god Helios, built by Chares of Lindos. Contrary to popular belief, it didn’t straddle the entrance to Mandraki harbour, rather it was situated either on a promontory of the harbour or even a distance inland. It was toppled and broken in an earthquake in 226 BC and destroyed some time around the 7th Century AD.
Statue of Liberty
Where: New York, USA | Height: 46 metres | Dedicated: October 1886
Perhaps the most famous and iconic statue in the world, the model of Roman goddess Libertas was a gift of friendship from France to the United States. It was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi.
This iconic statue holds a torch in her right hand and a tablet in her left, with the inscription JULY IV MDCCLXXVI – 4th July 1776 in Roman numerals – the date of the United States Declaration of Independence. When the statue was finished, it prompted New York’s first ever ticker-tape parade.
Where: Nishan, China | Height: 72 metres | Unveiled: September 2018
The largest statue in the world of Confucius is in the ancient Chinese philosopher’s birthplace, overlooking the city of Qufu. Made of brass and reinforced steel, the project lead Hu Yantao said ‘the height of the statue coincides with the number of sages among Confucius’ disciples’. It is being used to promote traditional Chinese culture to people all over the world.
Great Buddha of Thailand
Where: Ang Thong Province, Thailand | Height: 92 metres | Completed: 2008
Thailand’s tallest statue and one of the world’s biggest statues, the Great Buddha is 92 metres high and 63 metres wide. It is made of concrete and painted gold and was ordered by the first abbot of the Wat Muang temple Phra Kru Vibul Arjarakhun to honour King Bhumibol. The statue cost approximately £2.4 million and the money for its construction was donated by members of the Buddhist faith.
Where: Sendai, Japan | Height: 100 metres | Completed: September 1991
The tallest statue in the world when it was completed in 1991 and the world’s biggest statue of a goddess, it is a representation of Nyoirin Kannon. It represents compassion and the fulfilment of wishes, as depicted by the gem in her right hand. In her left is a flask of water representing the flowing waters of wisdom.
Spring Temple Buddha
Where: Henan Province, China | Height: 128 metres | Completed: September 2008
The second tallest statue in the world is the cosmic Vairocana buddha and consists of over 1,100 pieces of copper weighing a staggering 1,000 tonnes. The name Spring Temple is from the Tianrui hot spring near the statue, whose waters are as hot as 60°C and are believed to have curative properties. The cost of the statue was reported to be at least $18 million.
Statue of Unity
Where: Gujarat, India | Height: 182 metres | Completed: 2018
By a huge margin, the Statue of Unity is the tallest statue in the world. It is a depiction of Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel, India’s Deputy Prime Minister from 1947 to 1950, the 49th president of the Indian National Congress and one of the most prominent campaigners for a united India. He was known as ‘Sardar’ which means ‘chief’ in Hindi and Urdu. The statue cost approximately $422 million and was designed by famous Indian sculptor Ram V. Sutar and built by conglomerate Larsen & Toubro. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 143rd anniversary of Sardar’s birth.