World's Most Controversial Monuments
a critic, but these monuments have sparked the biggest controversies. See what
the fuss is about.
president Alan García wanted to leave Peru a surprise
and hoped a 120-foot statue of Christ would protect Lima. But not
everyone likes surprises—not Lima’s mayor, informed only days before its June
2011 unveiling, and not locals frustrated that construction was outsourced to Brazil.
surprise statue certainly isn’t the first to spark controversy. Some of the
world’s most impressive monuments have backstories of bickering, which, in
addition to good gossip, give travelers insights into local culture, history,
and priorities. Even when a monument’s construction is well publicized, a
positive reception isn’t guaranteed, whether because of differing aesthetic
tastes, costliness, or partisanship.
case in point: the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the National Mall in Washington,
D.C.—27 years in the making. At its dedication on October 16, 2011,
opposition to the memorial’s outsourced-to-China design and its execution
overshadowed the celebration. Poet
Maya Angelou went so far as to state that the inscription on the memorial, a
quote from King, made him “look like an arrogant twit.”
of such controversies at the National Mall inspired Kirk Savage to write the
book Monument Wars. He notes that even the development of the Washington
Memorial—today accepted as a national treasure—was a battle. “The Washington
Monument itself took over 50 years to build. There were incredible problems,”
Savage said in a PBS broadcast about the MLK Jr. monument hullabaloo. “Nobody
really wanted an
monuments are set in stone; sometimes, what nobody wants never materializes.
Earlier this fall, in a poor province of Vietnam,
construction was halted on a nearly
$20 million tribute to mothers of martyred soldiers from the Vietnam War. The
project’s spiraling costs had made it too unpopular—even among the family of
its central figure, Nguyen Thi Thu, who died in December 2010. “My mother’s
soul would not be happy with this,” daughter Le Thi Tri ultimately told the
Madrid, unhappy locals have railed against a certain site for so many years
that the government has formed a commission to recommend modifications. Read on
for the inside story on that and more monumental controversies.