Gnomesville: an unusual roadside community of thousands of garden gnomes

In the Ferguson Valley of country Western Australia there lives a thriving community of gnomes, in a gnome village called Gnomesville. And no. I’m not joking. Garden gnomes are a classic symbol of kitschy yard decorations around the world, but most people are content to have just a couple of the little creatures living in their yards. But Gnomesville, a collection of thousands of the weird little statuettes set up on a roundabout, is definitely something different. The community of silent gnomes actually began as a whimsical protest some 20…

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C.Y. O’Connor Horse and Rider

Charles Yelverton O’Connor (11 January 1843 – 10 March 1902) was an Irish-born engineer who found his greatest achievements in Australia, before tragically committed suicide. His life has been commemorated in monuments across Australia, but his death is remembered by a bronze horse and rider who peek out of the waves off the coast of the beach where he died. Born at Gravelmount, Castletown, Meath, Ireland, in 1865 he migrated to New Zealand, where he worked initially on the locating and survey of a route for the first dray and…

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Kanmangafuchi Abyss and the mystery of Jizō statues

Nikko is one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo, and for more than a good reason: it’s got gorgeous shrines, tons of history, and is situated in a really beautiful nature. But besides all the standard stuff you’d see in a trip to Nikko, Kanmangafuchi Abyss (憾満ヶ淵) is probably the most interesting. The area practically untouched by tourists boasts beautiful ravince, rows of shrines, and also a row of stone Jizō statues. How many? Nobody knows for sure, because apparently each time you count them, you end up…

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Parkland Walk: a walk along an abandoned railway line

An abandoned railway line can be a creepy place to walk alone at night with its overgrown vines, a forgotten railway infrastructure and the smell of spray paint lingering in the air. Well, where once a railroad line crossed through the wilds of London’s Haringey and Islington, a scenic 5.0 km linear green pedestrian and cycle route has taken its place and the crumbling, abandoned stations and tunnels are now home to urban legends, graffiti, and some whimsically unsettling decoration. The route of the path between Finsbury Park and Highgate…

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Viareggio: a statue for Ettore, the cat friend of fishermen

Ettore was abandoned in a cardboard box along the pier in Viareggio, Italy. It was 1997, and from that moment on this special cat has no longer had a home or a human owner, but countless different homes and friends. Especially the local fishermen, who went back and forth every day along the pier, becoming his family. The leftovers of the fish constituted the dinner of little Ettore, who patiently awaited his daily ration every day. It was a cat that entered the hearts not only of fishermen, who saw…

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The mysterious “Turning Angel” monument in Natchez City Cemetery – Mississippi, to commemorate a local tragedy

It sounds a bit unusual to consider a cemetery a major must-see, but once you glimpse the beauty of the Natchez City Cemetery and to know the history of some of the characters buried there, it is easy understand why. One of the most famous monuments is the so-called Turning Angel. This beautiful angel monument is overlooking five headstones, each with the same date of death. The inscription at the bottom of the statue states, “Erected by the Natchez Drug Company to the memory of the unfortunate employees who lost…

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Why in Havana a nude woman with a fork mount a rooster?

We are in Havana, Cuba, and there’s a mysterious brass statue in Plaza Vieja: A woman sits atop her big, feathery mount, her voluptuous form completely naked except for the stilettos on her feet. A massive forks rests on her right shoulder. And the rooster, ever so stoic, gazes ahead. No one knows the meaning behind the unusual sculpture. Its name is “Viaje Fantástico”, so perhaps the woman heading off on an adventure to some sort of nudist dinner party? Or, as some online theories speculate, could it have a…

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Fremont Troll – Seattle

A five and a half meters tall troll, made of cement lives underneath an overpass in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. With only half of its torso showing, the concrete statue appears to be emerging from the ground. Its lone eye, once a hubcap, stares down the tunnel, while its left hand clutches a car that strayed too close. The car is an actual Volkswagen Beetle encased in concrete, which was red and bear a California license plate. The Troll was constructed in 1990 after winning a Fremont Arts Council competition for…

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Sapporo, Japan: a giant Buddha statue wrapped in a Lavender Hill

In the Makomanai Takino cemetery, in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo, the famous Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, designed a spectacular temple, opened in December 2015. “The aim of this project was to build a prayer hall that would enhance the attractiveness of a stone Buddha sculpted 15 years ago. The site is a gently sloping hill on 180 hectares of lush land belonging to a cemetery. The statue is 13.5 metres tall and weighs 1500 tons. It is made of fine, highly selected solid stone. Until now, the…

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The Haserot Angel: the mysterious crying angel of Lakeview Cemetery – Ohio~

Lakeview Cemetery near Cleveland, Ohio, contains over 100,000 graves, including those of presidents and business moguls. President James A. Garfield rests here, as well as the American business magnate and philanthropist John Rockefeller and the Prohibition agent, famous for his efforts to bring down Al Capone, Elliot Ness. However, its most striking grave marker may be the unsettling statue known as Haserot’s Angel, a piece of art with permanent tears. Why would an angel cry? Haunting, yet beautiful, the Angel holds his quiet keep, revering the dead for 80 plus…

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The Lucifer of Liège – Belgium

Even though the original structure of St. Paul Cathédrale de Liège goes back to the 10th century, it’s been built over a few times, and today it is mostly comprised of 13th and 15th century architecture. It became a Roman Catholic cathedral in the 19th century due to the destruction of Saint Lambert Cathedral in 1795. The Liège revolutionaries considered it a symbol of the power of the Prince-Bishop. Thus, once the revolutionary mood had passed, another church had to be chosen to replace the destroyed cathedral and the collegiate…

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Greyfriars Bobby: the most loyal of little dogs, or a Victorian era publicity stunt?

An adorable scruffy dog looks out over Edinburgh, atop a granite fountain built in his honor. Popular stories said that this little skye terrier known as Greyfriars Bobby kept vigil at his owner’s grave for 14 years after his death. The best-known version of the story is that the dog belonged to John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a nightwatchman. When John Gray died of tuberculosis in 1858, he was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby then spent the rest of…

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The Moffat Ram~

In Moffat, Scotland, you can see a large bronze statue of a ram proudly surveys the town’s central marketplace from his privileged vantage point atop a sandstone fountain. It seems that it has more ghosts than it has ears, which would probably make it the world’s only haunted, earless statue of an ovine! The town of Moffat had a considerable career as a cattle and sheep droving centre, with the main street serving as a market and corral. The wool from the local sheep was spun locally, woven and dyed,…

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The sad story of Mieszko the Stone Bear in Warsaw – Poland

When walking past Warsaw’s Old Town and the Church of Our Lady of Grace, there is a small statue that does seem a bit out of place. It’s a bear, seemingly frozen on the church porch. This statue is said to be of Prince Mieszko, an adopted prince of Janusz I who was found in a bear’s den during a hunting trip. According to the legend he protected the bear and her cubs from being shot by putting himself between the animals and the hunters, a very brave move that…

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The “Indecent” little man on the church of St. James in Brno, Cze

On the southern window of Brno’s Church of St. James, the same church that houses Europe’s second largest ossuary, one sculptural element of the impressive structure seems somewhat out of place: an indecent little two-headed man cheekily displaying his bare butt to the world. This little guy is called “Neslušný mužícek” – the Indecent Little Man. There are two stories attributed to the little man, both involving the competition between the Church of St. James and the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul on nearby Petrov Hill, to build the…

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