10 Strangest Memorials in the World

Oct 24th, 2011

There are few better ways to pay tribute to an important person or event than to build a monument that will be around for generations to come. You can drag your grandkids to it and stand around reminiscing about the way things used to be while they roll their eyes or play games on their phones. But some memorials make you spend less time thinking about what they represent and more time wondering what their creators were thinking. These 10 strange monuments will leave you scratching your head, whether it’s because of the weird thing being memorialized or just the disturbing way it was carried out.

  1. Spomeniks, Former Yugoslavia

    By the time the terror of World War II subsided, more than 1 million people in the former Yugoslavia had been killed. Under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito in the ’60s and ’70s, enormous monuments were designed and constructed on battle sites to stand as a reminder of the strength of the country and what had been lost. The Spomeniks, which means "monuments" in Croatian, are scattered through the area that used to make up Yugoslavia. There were no aesthetic guidelines and no apparent theme for the creators, but most of them turned out looking like a vehicle for aliens or a building that’s been transported from the future. While they used to draw millions of visitors each year, they’ve been largely abandoned and now appear even more like the post-apocalyptic remnants of an intergalactic battle rather than memorials of a historic war.

  2. Kindlifresser (Child Eater) Fountain, Switzerland

    No one is 100% certain what the Kindlifresser Fountain commemorates, but the unpleasant sight of a man stuffing a baby’s head in his mouth is strange enough to make it worth a mention. The fountain was built back in the 1500s, and there are several theories on what it might represent. It could memorialize the Greek god Kronos who ate his children so they wouldn’t steal his throne or a Swiss duke’s brother who is said to have gone crazy and eaten the kids in town. Other ideas suggest it doesn’t represent any one person but rather serves as a warning, either to the Jews in the community or to the children whose parents wanted to terrify them into behaving. Any way you look at it, this fountain is horrifying.

  3. Paul the Octopus Memorial, Germany

    Of course there are plenty of noteworthy people around the world who deserve to be immortalized through a statue, but why do that when you can build a 6-foot-tall octopus on top of a giant soccer ball? The famous fortune-telling octopus who correctly predicted the outcome of all of the 2010 World Cup games became a global phenomenon during the year’s soccer craze, and gamblers were no doubt banking on Paul, as he was called, to come through for them during the next Cup. Sadly, Paul the Octopus died before he would get the chance to prove himself. The aquarium where he lived in Oberhausen, Germany constructed a statue of the cephalopod and placed his cremated remains inside the soccer ball.

  4. Charles La Trobe Monument, Australia

    The statue built in honor of Charles La Trobe, the first lieutenant-governor of Victoria, Australia, looks a lot like any other monument you might find erected for a leader. It’s a bronze cast of La Trobe standing on a pedestal. The only difference between this and every other memorial statue is that this one is totally upside down. The pedestal is up in the air and the whole structure is resting on La Trobe’s amazingly strong head. The idea behind this reversal is that La Trobe, for whom La Trobe University is named, thought that students needed to turn ideas on their heads by questioning the norms and looking for new perspectives. Some have thought this odd metaphor is disrespectful to the leader, but La Trobe remains in an eternal headstand.

  5. Fantasy coffins, Ghana

    Want to be buried in a giant chicken? No problem. How about a 6-foot-long cell phone? Just move to Ghana. The West African country has a tradition of making funerals a big event, and the coffins are the centerpiece of the affair. Many people have coffins made to reflect the dead person’s interests or careers. They can be made in almost any shape, from animals to airplanes to agriculture. This tradition is said to have started with a chair maker who made elaborate seats for rich men. One client died while the man was making a bean-shaped chair for him, so they buried the client in it. Today it’s become a bizarre art form and lucrative livelihood for one tribe.

  6. Saint Wenceslas Riding a Dead Horse, Czech Republic

    For most Americans, Wenceslas is just a king with a funny name that we sing about at Christmas, but he has a pretty interesting back story. The Christian king from the 10th century was murdered by his half-brother (as he was on his way to church, no less) and thus became a saint. He is now considered the patron saint of the Czech Republic and is rumored to be hiding beneath a mountain with his knights and will return when the people really need his help. This statue is far less noble. Created by controversial Czech artist David Cerny, it shows St. Wenceslas sitting on an upside-down dead horse who is strung up from the rafters. It’s a sort of parody of a nearby statue depicting the saint riding a horse properly, and many believe it has other symbolism as the representation of Wenceslas looks a lot like the Czech president.

  7. The Boot Monument, New York

    It’s strange enough to build a monument of just a boot, but even more bizarre that the "most brilliant soldier" that the statue memorializes isn’t named. That’s because this famous man is Benedict Arnold, and the statue is in memory of his heroic efforts on behalf of Americans in the Revolutionary War. Arnold was a major general in the war and helped win the Battle of Saratoga, during which his leg was injured and his military career ended. The imagery of the boot in this memorial is in honor of that wounded limb. Of course, Arnold would later become the most well-known traitor in American history, so the monument avoids mentioning his name.

  8. Circus Showfolks of America Monument, California

    When you’re walking through a cemetery to attend a funeral or visit a loved one’s grave, you probably aren’t expecting to see a creepy clown staring at you. In Colma, Calif. though, the number of circus people buried at one cemetery apparently warrants a light-hearted memorial. The moderately scary clown is surrounded by a bigtop, merry-go-round, and other cheery circus-themed images on top of the granite monument. Ring masters and lion tamers deserve to be honored, but maybe the middle of a graveyard isn’t the best place to remind people of their fear of clowns. Apparently, the marker for the memorial used to be a life-size painting of a clown, so this might be an improvement.

  9. Boy Scout Memorial, D.C.

    The Boy Scouts of America are known for teaching our youth good values and helping old women cross the street, so it seems only fitting that they would be honored with a memorial. But when you think of the proper images to immortalize the Boy Scout ideals, naked people probably aren’t part of that picture. The statue created for the Boy Scouts on the group’s 50th anniversary stands in D.C. and features a sweet, innocent Boy Scout in his uniform, with two people close behind him. These larger figures on either side of him are supposed to represent American manhood and womanhood and the ideals they pass on to the next generations, but these ideals appear to be bodybuilding and nudity. Both the man and woman have bulging muscles and are almost totally bare — not good symbolism considering the sex abuse cases that would later make headlines.

  10. Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston, New York

    There are so many things wrong with this statue, it’s hard to know where to start. The sculpture is a tribute to Britney Spears, the birth of her first child, and the pro-life movement (apparently just because she had a baby at a relatively young age). The artist created a statue that shows Spears naked on all fours on a bear-skin rug, giving birth to Sean Preston. First of all, who would ever give birth on a bear-skin rug? Secondly, Spears had a C-section. Most photos only show the front of the sculpture, and it’s probably for the viewer’s benefit because the back end shows Sean Preston’s head crowning. A permanent crotch shot of Britney Spears is the last thing America needs.