30 Famous Statues in Europe to Add to Your Bucket List

Europe is a place for art lovers. Whether you are drawn toward modern and contemporary art or prefer classical styles more reflective of the Renaissance period, you’ll find plenty to appreciate across Europe. But in Europe, art isn’t just painting found within the walls of museums.

From bustling city squares to picturesque cathedrals, there are so many famous statues in Europe that are artistic masterpieces in their own right. 

These famous European statues have been given notoriety for a variety of reasons. The purpose and meaning behind each piece is as diverse as the continent itself.

Many of Europe’s most famous sculptures were created for religious reasons. Others memorialize historical figures and important moments in time. And still others are harder to interpret. It is their peculiarity that makes them renown.

This guide to the most famous statues in Europe details the most acclaimed and notable sculptures across the European continent.  

The most famous statues in Europe to add to your bucket list

Some of the most famous European statues are centuries old but others are modern marvels added to the European landscape in recent years.

There is, perhaps, no other continent where art is more celebrated and integrated into a city’s design than Europe. Several of the most famous sculptures in Europe are housed inside the world-class museums in Paris, so that is where we will start.

The Thinker (Paris, France)

The Thinker is not only one of the most famous statues in Paris, it is one of the most famous statues in all of Europe
The Thinker is not only one of the most famous statues in Paris, it is one of the most famous statues in all of Europe. Photo by Sinjana from Backpack & Explore

“The Thinker”, called “Le Pensivr” in French, is the statue of a nude man sitting in a pensive mood. It is the most famous artwork of French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Many replicas of marble and bronze were created by Rodin himself, which can be found in different parts of the world.

However, the original and most famous of these sculptures is the 6-feet tall bronze statue that sits in the garden of Rodin’s museum in Paris.

The figurine was originally called “The Poet”.

It was initially conceived as a part of the Gates of Hell, a door of a planned museum of decorative arts in Paris. Rodin drew his inspiration from Dante’s Inferno and made a series of figures to represent tormented characters of hell.

“The Poet” (now known as “The Thinker”) was to sit on the semi-circular decorative wall above the door gazing down upon the tormented characters. This original vision can be found in an exhibit in the Orsay museum in France.

The striking pose of the muscular man sitting with his back hunched upon his knees, a palm under his chin and the other hand resting on his knees caught the imagination of many. The sculpture is the biggest attraction of Rodin’s Museum today.

It’s a must-see in your Paris itinerary for first-timers.

Sinjana from Backpack & Explore

Where to see The Thinker:

  • Rodin Museum
  • Address: 77 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France
  • Cost to enter: $15 USD

Vénus de Milo (Paris, France)

Venus of Milo statue
Venus of Milo can be seen in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

Located on the Sully Wing in the famous Louvre Museum in Paris, Venus de Milo is one of the most iconic sculptures in the museum.

The sculpture, whose arms are both missing, was first discovered on the island of Milos in Greece in 1820. It’s believed to have been carved from Marble between 150 and 125 BC by Alexandros of Antioch.

Since its arrival in the Louvre, a year after it was discovered, the Venus de Milo statue has made scientists, archaeologists and sculptors move places in search of answers on who it depicts.

Some state that it represents Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, while other scholars believe that it represents the sea-goddess Amphitrite, who was worshiped on the island of Milos.

Besides the lack of arms, what makes this 204 cm (6 ft 8 in) high statue famous is the history it carries along and the fact that it was initially sculpted in parts (with the bust, left arm, foot and legs carved separately).

It was joined together with vertical pegs to be gifted to King Louis XVIII who later donated it to the Louvre Museum where everyone now has a chance to look at this mesmerizing goddess. 

But regardless of who it characterizes, as that is still a staggering question, Venus de Milo is indubitably one of the most iconic sculptures in Europe.

Esther from Dreams in Paris

Where to see Venus de Milo:

  • Louvre Museum
  • Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
  • Cost to enter: $20 USD

Winged Victory of Samothrace (Paris, France) 

The Winged Victory of Samothrace, one of the most famous sculptures in the Louvre Museum in Paris
The Winged Victory of Samothrace, one of the most famous sculptures in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Image by Ciprian Axinte from Pixabay

The Winged Victory of Samothrace is one of the most famous sculptures in Paris.

This beautiful marble sculpture is displayed in the Louvre Museum, and more precisely on the top of the monumental staircase that leads to the museum’s section of Italian paintings and the Mona Lisa, so you cannot miss it!

The Winged Victory of Samothrace is an ancient Greek sculpture. It represents a winged woman (the Goddess Nike) dressed in a typical Greek costume. Unfortunately, the head and arms of this artwork are missing, but it is still a beautiful and expressive sculpture.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace dates back to the second century BC. It probably decorated the prow of a nave, and that’s also how the visitors can admire it, like if she still was leading the nave and its crew.

The sculpture is named after the island where it was discovered.

Although there are many theories about the sculptor, nobody knows for sure who the author is.

Visitors can admire the Winged Victory of Samothrace from Wednesday to Monday from 9 am to 6 pm.

The Louvre is the world’s best museum and one of the top things to do in Paris. It is recommended to buy skip-the-line tickets online and in advance.

Elisa from World in Paris

Where to see Winged Victory of Samothrace:

  • Louvre Museum
  • Address: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
  • Cost to enter: $20 USD

David (Florence, Italy)

David, by Michelangelo, is notably one of the most famous statues ever sculpted
David, by Michelangelo, is notably one of the most famous statues ever sculpted. Image by pieroor from Pixabay

The sculpture of David by Michelangelo is considered one of the most iconic art pieces in the world. Created in white Carrara marble, the Renaissance sculpture can be seen at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Admiring the original David sculpture is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Florence. Viewing the masterpiece in person, at length from every angle, is on the bucket list of many visitors to the city.

The young David’s pose in this statue is from just before his epic battle with Goliath. David is depicted holding a sling, and with an intensely focused demeanor: you can see his tense muscles and the bulging blood vessels in his right hand as he prepares for the encounter.

You will literally get goosebumps when you see the statue in person!

Michelangelo created David when he was only 26, completing a barely-begun and incomplete project by Agostino di Ducchio. It took him more than two years.

The finished masterpiece was 17 feet tall and originally stood in the courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio. It was moved to the Accademia Gallery in 1873 to protect it from the elements.

David is one of the most popular sights in Florence. It’s best to get a skip-the-line ticket for early in the morning (at opening time) to avoid the worst of the crowds.

Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

Where to see David by Michelangelo:

  • Accademia Gallery
  • Address: Via Ricasoli, 60, 50122 Florence, Italy
  • Cost to enter: $31 USD

Kelpies (Falkirk, Scotland)

Kelpies in Falkirk, Scotland
Kelpies in Falkirk, Scotland. Photo by Ivor Bond from Pixabay

The Kelpies are one of the most unique sculptures in Europe. Nestled in central Scotland, the 30-meter (90 feet) tall horse head sculptures are an incredible sight to see. 

Kelpies are shape-shifting water spirits that have the strength of ten horses. They’re depicted as horses as tribute to the horses which helped to build the Falkirk area of Scotland.

Horses were a key part of Scotland’s industry – from pulling wagons to helping shape the waterways of the inland. 

Not only an ode to Scotland’s past, the sculpture is now a gateway to the east entrance of the Forth and Clyde canal, which will help connect over a dozen Falkirk communities.

The beautiful horses are a breathtaking symbol of ongoing progress. You can walk around the sculptures and enjoy the visitor’s center to learn more about the area. 

The Kelpies are only a twenty minute drive from Stirling Castle – one of the best castles in Scotland. They’re a relatively new addition to the Scotland countryside. Construction began in June 2013 and was completed by October of the same year.

Be sure to add The Kelpies to your Scotland trip. 

Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Where to see The Kelpies:

  • The Helix
  • Address: Falkirk, Grangemouth FK2 7ZT, United Kingdom
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Angel of the North (Gateshead, England)

Angel of the North is the tallest statue in the UK
Angel of the North is the tallest statue in the UK. Photo by Patrick Routledge from Pixabay

Angel of the North is one of Europe’s most notable examples of public art. The massive, and contemporary statue designed by Antony Gormley can easily be seen from the roadway near Gateshead, England, about 5.5 hours north of London

Built in 1998, it is the largest sculpture in the United Kingdom and believed to be the largest angel statue in the world. 

The steel statue stands 66 feet (20 meters) tall and has a wing span of 177 feet (54 meters). 

Weighing approximately 200 tons, this famous European statue took 4 years to complete. It is now considered a landmark in the UK. 

Built on a former mining site, the large angel symbolizes a transition from the industrial to the information age while conveying hope through the transition. 

Although the statue is loved by many and has understandably claimed its spot as one of the most famous statues in Europe, the construction of this giant angel wasn’t without controversy.

Initially, many opposed the construction of the public art project due to concerns over traffic issues the roadside sculpture could cause.

Where to see Angel of the North:

  • Durham Rd, Low Eighton, Gateshead NE9 7TY, United Kingdom
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Manneken Pis (Brussels, Belgium)

Manneken Pis, the smallest of the most famous statues in Europe
Manneken Pis, the smallest of the most famous statues in Europe. Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay

Unlike most other famous statues in Europe, the Manneken Pis in Brussels is only 61 cm (24 in) tall.

But this bronze sculpture of a urinating little boy is a popular mascot that is not only loved by the people of Brussels but also by many others, including the French and English, who have allegedly attempted to steal the statue in the past.

There are several legends behind Manneken Pis.

Some say the little boy helped the city win a battle by urinating on the enemy’s gunpowder. Some say he was caught peeing on a witch’s front door and was consequently cursed into a stone with an eternally full bladder.

In another version, he was just a mischievous boy who went missing for days and was later found peeing on the street corner.

Whatever it is, Manneken Pis clearly embodies the Belgians’ sense of humor. It has become the city’s tradition to dress the statue on special occasions. To date, he has more than 800 costumes, and is one of the things Belgium is most famous for.

Find him at the junction of Rue du Chêne and Rue de l’Étuve, a five minutes’ walk from the Grand Place.

Ummi from Ummi Goes Where?

Where to see Manneken Pis:

  • Address: Rue du Chene and Rue de l’Etuve, Brussels, Belgium
  • Cost to visit: Free!

The Little Mermaid (Copenhagen, Denmark) 

The Little Mermaid, one of Europe's most iconic statues, is also one of the most popular attractions in Copenhagen, Denmark
The Little Mermaid, one of Europe’s most iconic statues, is also one of the most popular attractions in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Little Mermaid is perhaps one of the most over-rated yet somehow most famous statues in Europe. Located along the shore of the Langelinie Cruise Harbor in Copenhagen, Denmark, the bronze and granite sculpture is only 4 feet tall.

Inspired by the story of The Little Mermaid written by Hans Christian Andersen and later turned into one of the most beloved Disney movies, the bronze and granite statue depicts a mermaid sitting on a rock looking longingly out to sea.

It is one of the most popular tourist sites and things to see in Copenhagen, and one of the most photographed statues in the world.

Although most of us are familiar with the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, in Andersen’s original tale, there is no happily ever after. In fact, the original story ends tragically. The mermaid does not get her human prince, and is transformed into cold sea foam.

Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen was commissioned to create the famous European statue in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen, the founder of Carlsberg Brewery, after Jacobsen saw a ballet based on the fairytale and was moved.

The small statue, which has sat in the harbor since 1913, has been vandalized and restored multiple times over the decades.

The Little Mermaid is a free, public work of art worthy of any Scandinavian itinerary.

If you want to know more about the statue and its history, you can join a canal boat tour. The knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insight on the humble statue. 

Where to see The Little Mermaid:

  • Address: Langelinie, 2100 København Ø, Denmark
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Sibelius Monument (Helsinki, Finland)

Sibelius Monument in Helsinki
Sibelius Monument in Helsinki, Finland. Photo by Moon Ray from Nomadic Mun

Sibelius monument is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Helsinki, Finland .

The monument is designed by Finnish artist Eila Hiltunen and was unveiled on September 7, 1967. This 8.5 meters high, 10.5 meters long and 6.5 meters deep unique monument is made of 600 acid-resistant steel pipes of various diameters. The pipes amplify sound made on it.

The sculpture is dedicated to the world famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Initially Eila Hiltunen was criticized for the abstract look of the monument. Later she calmed her critics by adding  the bust of Sibelius on one side of the main sculpture.

Interestingly one can even walk inside the Sibelius Monument. 

A replica of the Sibelius monument is kept at the UNESCO headquarter in Paris, and the details of work can be found in the square of the UN headquarters in New York.

The monument is situated at the Sibelius Park in Töölö, Helsinki. The address is – Sibeliuksen puisto, Mechelininkatu, 00250 Helsinki, Finland. The park is well connected by public transport from Helsinki centre. and there is a parking place near the park.

It is an open park, so one can visit any time. There is no entry fee.

Moon Ray from Nomadic Mun

Where to see Sibeluis Monument:

  • Sibelius Park
  • Address: Sibeliuksen puisto, Mechelininkatu, 00250 Helsinki, Finland
  • Costs to visit: Free!

Angry Boy (Oslo, Norway) 

Angry Boy, the most famous sculpture in Oslo's Vigeland Sculpture Park.
Angry Boy, the most famous sculpture in Oslo’s Vigeland Sculpture Park.

Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway is home to more than 200 distinct statues all created by Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. 

It is the largest sculpture park in the world created by a single artist. Each year, it draws hundreds of thousands of people to Oslo, one of the most unique and beautiful Scandinavian cities.

Angry Boy is one of the most famous sculptures in Vigeland Sculpture Park and the most popular among tourists. The statue depicts a young toddler boy who is clearly upset and in the midst of a tantrum. (Every parent can deeply relate.)

The little boy, appearing to be crying in anger, is standing on one foot, fists clenched, about to stomp his other foot in a fit of rage.

The statue is widely photographed, perhaps because it so perfectly captures the challenging toddler years of life. 

Over the years, many visitors to the park have reached out to hold the child statue’s hand. Some may be doing this as a way of trying to comfort the Angry Boy, but others do it because they believe it will bring them good luck.

So many people have touched the child’s hand over the years, that it has become shiny in comparison to the rest of the now dull, bronze statue. The city has even taken efforts to protect the statue’s hand from damage, even at times coating it in wax. 

While Angry Boy is one of the most famous European sculptures within the open-air exhibit, there are more than 200 others that all depict various stages of life – from birth to death. 

The sculpture park can be found within Frogner Park, the largest public park in Norway’s capital. If you are visiting Oslo with kids, there is also a swimming pool, cafe, and the biggest playground in all of Norway found at Frogner Park. 

Where to see Angry Boy:

  • Vigeland Sculpture Park in Frogner Park
  • Nobels gate 32, 0268 Oslo, Norway
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Sun Voyager (Reykjavik, Iceland)

Sun Voyager in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Sun Voyager in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Perhaps one of the most iconic landmarks in Reykjavik, Iceland, The Sun Voyager is a steel sculpture along the waterfront. 

The statue, created by Jon Gunnar Arnason, resembles a Viking ship. Many feel this is a nod to Iceland’s Viking roots. The island nation’s Viking history is one of the most fascinating things to learn about in Iceland. But the famous European statue actually has nothing to do with the country’s Viking heritage.

The boat sculpture is really about undiscovered territory, hope, and freedom. 

Created in 1986 to celebrate Reykjavik’s 200 year anniversary, The Sun Voyager is an ode to the sun. The sculptor, who was battling cancer at the time he created the piece, died in 1989, a year before the public artwork was placed in its present location.

You can find the statue along the shoreline on Sæbraut road in Reykjavik. Best viewed at sunset, it is an easy addition to any Iceland itinerary

Where to see Sun Voyager:

  • Address: Sæbraut, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Santuario de Cristo Rei (Lisbon, Portugal)

Sanctuary of Christ the King in Lisbon, Portugal, looks a lot like the famous statue Christ the Redeemer in Brazil
Sanctuary of Christ the King in Lisbon, Portugal, looks a lot like the famous statue Christ the Redeemer in Brazil. Photo by Ronile from Pixabay

The Sanctuary of Christ the King, or Santuário de Cristo Rei in Portuguese, is a monument located in Almada, Portugal.

On the opposite side of the Tagus River from Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon, Alamada is just across the 25 de Abril Bridge, one of the most famous bridges in Europe.

The bridge connects the two cities, and the towering monument of Jesus Christ with his arms stretched outward overlooks the bridge. 

Inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this famous statue in Europe features a 92-foot tall image of Christ on top of a 269-foot tall pedestal. 

The top of the pedestal serves as an observation deck and offers panoramic views of Lisbon and the Tagus River.

The statue, which was designed by sculptor Francisco Franco de Sousa, was completed in 1959. But it was originally commissioned in 1940, as a plea to God to save Portugal from the horrors of World War II, which was devastating much of Europe at the time.

Almada is a great day trip from Lisbon, and a visit to this famous European statue makes for a great activity if visiting Lisbon with kids

Where to see Santuario de Cristo Rei:

  • Address: 2800-058 Almada, Portugal
  • Cost to visit: 6 Euro

Trevi Fountain (Rome, Italy)

Trevi Fountain is not only one of the most famous statues in Europe, it is also one of the most famous fountains in the world.
Trevi Fountain is not only one of the most famous statues in Europe, it is also one of the most famous fountains in the world.

The iconic Trevi Fountain in Rome is filled with beautiful statues and is a must-see on any trip to Rome. The main statue on the fountain is that of Oceanus, and there’s a very colorful history behind it.

It all started in 1629, when Pope Urban VIII asked Bernini, a famous architect, to add some life to the Trevi Fountain because it looked far from impressive back then.

Ultimately, Roman architects Salvi and Pannini completed the job. They created three main statues to decorate the fountain: Oceanus (the main one in the middle), Abundance, and Health (on both sides of Oceanus).

The architects used the Carrara marble to construct the statues and gave them a “Taming of the Waters” theme. This is why the statue of Oceanus stands at the center of the Trevi Fountain, and he and his chariot are being pulled by two sea-horses.

One of the sea-horses is very wild, whereas the other is tame, and they represent the moods of the ocean. The two sea-horses are also led by two tritons. 

To the left side of Oceanus, there is the Goddess of Abundance, who is holding a horn and standing over a toppled vase. Meanwhile, the Goddess of Health stands on the right side and is holding a cup of water, from which a snake is drinking. 

This fountain and its statues have become world-famous for their stunning designs. It’s one of the most photographed landmarks in Italy.

Jiayi from The Diary of a Nomad

Where to see Trevi Fountain:

  • Piazza di Trevi
  • 00187 Roma RM, Italy
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Maman (Bilbao, Spain)

Maman, located in Bilbao, Spain, is one of the strangest sculptures in Europe.
Maman, one of the strangest sculptures in Europe, located in Bilbao, Spain. Tomas Llorente from Pixabay

A creepy statue with a complex meaning, Maman is not only one of the most famous statues in Europe, it is also one of the most unnerving, at least for those with arachnophobia!

This towering 30-foot tall bronze spider sits outside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. 

For lovers of modern art, viewing Maman is a bucket list experience in Spain.

Created by Louise Bourgeois in 1999, Maman is not a one-of-a-kind sculpture. In fact, there are at least 6-10 places where Maman is either on permanent display or part of a traveling exhibit, including Tokyo, Japan, London, and several places in the United States.  

The statue is supported on 8 thin legs, which allows the body of the spider to be suspended above the ground.

Onlookers can even walk underneath. Look up at the thorax of the spider and you’ll see 32 marble eggs in the egg sac of the mother spider. 

Although the statue may evoke feelings of discomfort or even fear, the statue actually represents protection and benevolence.

Bourgeois, a French-born artist, used the statue to illustrate the complexity of the mother-child relationship. (The word maman translates to the French word for mommy.) Like spiders, mothers can be both feared and revered.

Where to see Maman:

  • Outside Guggenheim Museum
  • Ingelesen Landako Kaia, 2, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Lion Monument (Lucerne, Switzerland)

 Lion of Lucerne, one of the most moving statues in Europe, carved in a rock facade in Lucerne, Switzerland.
The Lion of Lucerne, one of the most moving statues in Europe, carved in a rock facade in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Lucerne, Switzerland is not only home to one of the most beautiful bridges in Europe, it is also home to a fairly famous statue. So famous, in fact, Mark Twain even wrote about it. 

The Lion Monument, also referred to as the Lion of Lucerne or the Dying Lion, is a powerful tribute to the Swiss guards who died in the French Revolution in 1792 while defending the Tuileries Palace in Paris and the royal family.

There were 760 soldiers killed during the attack. Many more succumbed to their injuries or died in prison following the attack. 

The sculpture, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and carved by stonemason Lukas Ahorn, was set into a sandstone wall in Lucerne, Switzerland, where it has been since 1821.

The sculpture depicts a lion impaled with a spear and lying on its side about to die. The American author, Mark Twain, said the famous European sculpture is “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”

More than 1.4 million people come to see the Lion Monument each year, which is free to visit. 

Where to see Lion of Lucerne:

  • Address: Denkmalstrasse 4, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Head of Franz Kafka (Prague, Czech Republic)

Head of Franz Kafka, one of the coolest statues in Prague.
Head of Franz Kafka, one of the coolest statues in Prague.

There is perhaps no other city in Europe with as many weird, eye-catching statues as Prague, Czech Republic.

The Head of Franz Kafka is one of the most interesting statues in Prague. The outdoor, rotating installation, created by sculptor David Cerny, is tucked away in a small square. You’ll find it just outside the Quadrio business and shopping center in Prague. 

The kinetic sculpture features 42 layered panels that continually twist and rotate, forming the head of famous writer Franz Kafka. The mirrored bust built from stainless steel was installed in 2014 and stands 36 feet tall.

If visiting Prague with kids, your little ones will be fascinated watching the individual panels rotate to form the face of the Prague-born writer. 

Cerny, who is the mastermind behind many of Prague’s quirky statues, intended this piece of art to capture Kafka’s tortured personality. 

Where to see Head of Franz Kafka:

  • Outside Quadrio Shopping and Business Center
  • Address: Charvátova, 110 00 Nové Město, Czechia
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Holy Trinity Column (Olomouc, Czech Republic)

Trinity Column in Olomouc, Czech Republic
Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc, Czech Republic. Photo by Veronika Primm from Travel Geekery

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a unique, large sculpture that’s even UNESCO-listed. It can be found in the heart of the Old Town of Olomouc, Czech Republic at the Horní náměstí Square.

It was built between 1716 and 1754 after a 2-year long plague. The unique Baroque features of the column also symbolize the exceptional affinity to the Catholic Church at that time. The building of the column solidified local patriotism since all the builders and workers were local citizens.

What’s most unique about the column is its size. It occupies a good chunk of the square. In fact, it is so grand that even a small chapel rests at its base.

Heavy decoration and statues of saints (18), light-bearers (12) and busts of apostles (12) make it the biggest group of baroque statues on one object in the whole of Central Europe. The top is adorned by a sculptural group of the Assumption of Virgin Mary and the main Holy Trinity sculpture.

During the Prussian Wars, just a few years after finishing the column, the masterpiece was in great danger due to attacks and looting. Bravely, locals marched to the Prussian General to plead to spare the column.

A golden cannonball placed into the column nowadays commemorates the brave act.

Veronika Primm from Travel Geekery

Where to see Holy Trinity Column:

  • Horní náměstí Square
  • Address: Horní nám. 367, 779 00 Olomouc, Czechia
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Fountain of Neptune (Bologna, Italy)

The Fountain of Neptune
The Fountain of Neptune in Bologna, Italy. Photo by Eternaltravel from Pixabay

Bologna may be known as one of the best food cities in Italy, but there are several unique architectural sites and sculptures you also won’t want to miss.

The Fountain of Neptune is an impressive site and one of the most iconic statues in Europe.

Located near Bologna’s library in the small Piazza del Nettuno adjacent to the main Piazza Maggiore, the fountain was commissioned in 1563 by Cardinal Charles Borromeo to symbolize the election of his uncle as Pope Pius IV.

Completed in 1565 in the Late Renaissance (Mannerism) style, the huge bronze statue of Neptune was put into place on the fountain in 1566.

The beautiful fountain is covered in marble from Verona and has four female images each holding their breasts from which water is jetting out.

The base itself is decorated with pontifical symbols connected to four cherubs. Each cherub is holding a dolphin representing the four major rivers of the known world. 

It is atop of this elaborate base that the incredible statue of Neptune stands. The statue stands with its left hand outstretched in a symbolic gesture to calm the sea. This is interpreted to symbolize the immense power of the new Pope Pius IV over Bologna and the world.

When you’re touring Bologna make a visit to this beautiful statue and fountain part of your travel plans.

Lori from Italy Foodies

Where to see Fountain of Neptune:

  • Piazza del Nettuno
  • 40124 Bologna BO, Italy
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Juliet (Verona, Italy)

replica of the statue of Juliet, which stands outside Juliet's House in Verona, Italy.
A replica of the statue of Juliet, which stands outside Juliet’s House in Verona, Italy. Image by ElisaRiva from Pixabay

Verona, Italy is a popular pilgrimage for love-struck people from around the world. Many flock to the northern Italian city to visit Juliet’s House and the statue of Juliet.

Based on Shakespeare’s heroine from the play Romeo and Juliet, this famous European statue is housed inside the Juliet’s House Museum. Sculpted in 1969 by Nereo Costantini, the bronze statue stood outside in the courtyard of the house from 1972 until 2014. 

It was believed by many who made the journey to Verona that touching the statue’s breast would bring you good luck and love. Over time, so many people touched the statue that a small hole eventually formed.

The museum eventually moved the statue inside and rope it off so it could no longer be touched. They placed a replica of the statue underneath Juliet’s balcony to greet tourists longing for love.

The entrance to the courtyard is also notable. It is covered in love letters and messages from people searching or hoping for everlasting love.

You can easily see the Juliet Statue as part of a day trip from Venice, Italy, which is just over an hour away by train. 

Where to see Juliet:

  • Juliet House Museum
  • Address: Via Cappello, 23, 37121 Verona VR, Italy
  • Cost to visit: 6-7 Euro

El Oso y el Madrono (Madrid, Spain) 

The Bear and the Strawberry Tree has become a symbol of the city of Madrid, Spain
The Bear and the Strawberry Tree has become a symbol of the city of Madrid, Spain. Image by NakNakNak from Pixabay

Located in the Puerta del Sol, the heart of one of the most lively neighborhoods in Madrid, El Oso y el Madroño is an iconic spot in the Spanish capital.

The 20-tons 4-meters high (13 feet) bronze statue was created by the sculptor Antonio Navarro Santafé in 1967.

Translating to The Bear and the Strawberry Tree, the statue showcases a bear standing and leaning onto a tree with his two paws, tilting his head towards the fruits. It represents the coat of arms of Madrid from the 13th century, though it’s not 100% clear why it has become a symbol of the city.

The bear might be inspired by the large number of bears that were found in the natural areas surrounding the city or by Ursalia (Ursus = bear in Latin), the name of Madrid during Roman times. In fact, even before the 13th century, Madrid’s coat of arms included a bear with the seven stars of the Ursa Major (Great Bear).

As for the strawberry tree, it is thought to be connected to an old conflict between the church and the city council regarding the territories around Madrid. When the council was granted ownership over the forests, the strawberry tree was added to the shield.

Or from My Path in the World 

Where to see El Oso y el Madrono:

  • Puerta del Sol
  • Address: Puerta del Sol, 1, 28013 Madrid, Spain
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Catene De Containers (Le Havre, France)

Image by Valdas Miskinis from Pixabay

Unlike most famous statues in Europe that are delicately crafted from bronze or other metals, Cantene de Containers, or Chain of Containers in English, is an art installation made entirely from shipping containers.

Inaugurated in 2017, the colorful piece created by Vincent Ganivet consists of two interwoven arches of multicolored shipping containers strung together. 

The unique sculpture weighs almost 288 tons and stands 28 meters at its highest point. While some may not consider this art installation a “statue”, the modern art sculpture makes our list because of its uniqueness and eye-catching design. 

The permanent structure, which seems to defy the laws of gravity, sits along the shoreline. It has affectionately become known by the locals as the “Eiffel Tower of Le Havre”. 

Where to see Catene De Containers:

  • Le Havre Port
  • Address: Quai de Southampton, 76600 Le Havre, France
  • Cost to vist: Free!

Molecule Man (Berlin, Germany)

Molecule Man, one of Europe's most famous modern art statues, located in Berlin, Germany.
Molecule Man, one of Europe’s most famous modern art statues, located in Berlin, Germany. Image by Ralf Genge from Pixabay

Molecule Men is a European statue with a meaning that has past significance yet is still very relevant today.

The aluminum sculpture created by American artist Jonathan Borofsky depicts the silhouettes of three men joining together at the center. The figures have hundreds of holes representing the molecules of human beings that create our existence. 

The famous statue in Berlin, Germany towers 100 feet (30 meters) above the Spree River, which once separated east and west Berlin. The statue was erected in 1997 and has become one of the most recognizable landmarks in Berlin.

The sculpture symbolizes the need to come together as a human race. Its position on the river which was once a place of division, makes the meaning behind the statue even more impactful.

And while it is a nod to the history of Berlin, the message of a need for unity is one that rings just as true today.

Berlin is one of several locations around the world where you can see this particular statue. Los Angeles, California and Council Bluffs, Iowa are both home to Molecule Man statues, as well.

Where to see Molecule Man:

  • Spree River
  • Address: An den Treptowers 1, 12435 Berlin, Germany
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Freedom Monument (Riga, Latvia)

The Freedom Monument in Riga, Latvia
The Freedom Monument in Riga, Latvia. Photo by Martha from May Cause Wanderlust

Latvia has a long and sad history of being occupied by bigger empires and regimes. Latvia declared independence from the Russian Empire in 1918, and by 1920, there was a peace treaty.

After this historic achievement, there was a brief period when Latvia was able to reassert and enjoy its own national identity. During this time, a bold, proud monument was commissioned and constructed in the center of the capital, Riga. 

The Freedom Monument is a tall column, on the top of which stands a statue of Liberty, whose arms are held high, defiantly brandishing three stars above her head.  The stars symbolize the three states within Latvia, united.

On the base of the column, the motto ‘For Fatherland and Freedom’ is inscribed.

Sadly, this period of independence didn’t last long. World War II brought an invasion from the Nazis and then the Soviet Union.  Under Soviet occupation, there was talk of destroying the monument.

Luckily, it was saved because of its artistic value (it is in the National Romantic style of Art Nouveau).  As the movement for independence grew stronger in the 1980s, the monument was the site of a peaceful protest, where 5,000 Latvian gathered to lay flowers.

The Monument is free to visit. It is situated in the middle of a plaza near Riga’s Old Town and the city canal.

After your visit, consider exploring other Art Nouveau landmarks by doing an Art Nouveau walking tour of Riga, whose city center has the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in the world.

Martha from May Cause Wanderlust

Where to see Freedom Monument:

  • Address: Central District, Riga, LV-1050, Latvia
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Čumil – Man at Work (Bratislava, Slovakia)

Cumil, one of the most popular statues in Old Town Bratislava, Slovakia.
Cumil, one of the most popular statues in Old Town Bratislava, Slovakia.

Bratislava, Slovakia is another beautiful city in which you will find several strange, playful statues. 

One of the most famous statues, known as The Watcher or Man at Work, is a bronze sculpture of a man peeping out of a manhole in the street. 

The man depicted even has a name: Čumil. Created by Slovak sculptor Viktor Hulik, the worker, Čumil, appears to be taking a break.

Čumil appears to be resting his chin casually on his folded arms. But according to a widely popular rumor, this man is actually peeping out of the manhole to look under women’s skirts.  

Located in the heart of Old Town Bratislava, this particular statue has become a bit of a tourist attraction.

Even if you only have one day in Bratislava, spend some time wandering through the Old Town district and finding all the unique statues, especially Čumil. But make sure you’re not wearing a skirt if you do! 🙂  

Where to see Man at Work:

  • Address:Panská 251/1, 811 01 Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Hermes and the Infant Dionysus (Olympia, Greece)

The statue of Hermes in Olympia, Greece
The statue of Hermes in Olympia, Greece. Photo by Roxanne from Faraway Worlds.

The statue of Hermes and the Infant Dionysus was discovered in the 19th Century in Olympia, the home of the ancient Olympic Games and now the site of a large number of ancient Greek ruins.

The sculpture was uncovered in the ruins of the Temple of Hera and shows Hermes carrying Dionysus as an infant.

According to myth, Zeus gave the baby Dionysus to Hermes to hide from Hera. Hermes took him to Silenus and the rain nymphs of Mount Nysa who raised him until, as an adult, he became god of wine. Hermes’ raised right hand is missing on the sculpture. Scholars believe that he was originally holding out a bunch of grapes for Dionysus.

The marble statue is a beautiful example of late Classical sculpture (dated c. 400-323 BCE).

It was attributed to Praxiteles when it was found as the style is reminiscent of his work. This claim has been contested in more recent times as there are no known copies of this statue and there is little to link the piece to Praxiteles.

Regardless, it’s a beautiful piece of art which has been remarkably well preserved over the millennia.

Roxanne from Faraway Worlds

Where to see Hermes:

  • Archaeological Museum of Olympia
  • Address: Archaia Olympia 270 65, Greece
  • Cost to visit: 13 euro

Column of Pest (Vienna, Austria) 

Plague Column, a famous public sculpture in Europe found in the historical center of Vienna.
The Plague Column, also known as the Column of Pest, a famous public sculpture in the historical center of Vienna.

Vienna, Austria is home to another one of the more interesting famous statues in Europe. Known as the Column of Pest, or Pestsäule, this pillar-like statue is located on the Graben in central Vienna.

Its convenient location between Stephansplatz and Hofburg Palace makes it an easy addition to any itinerary, even if you only have one day in Vienna.

Located in Innere Stadt, the oldest district in Vienna and one of the best areas of Vienna to stay in, this detailed sculpture is a must-see.

Also known as the Plague Column, the European sculpture was created in 1679 after the plague swept through the city. Commissioned by Emperor Leopold I, the sculpture was a way of giving thanks to God for ending the epidemic which killed thousands of the city’s residents. 

Representative of the Holy Trinity, the column has three distinct vertical layers: humans, angels, and finally the Holy Trinity crowns the top. 

Where to see Plague Column:

  • Address: Graben 28, 1010 Vienna, Austria
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Warrior on a Horse (Skopje, North Macedonia) 

Statue of Warrior on a Horse in Skopje, North Macedonia
Statue of Warrior on a Horse in Skopje, North Macedonia – Photo by Emily from Wander-Lush

When it comes to statues in the Balkans region, it’s hard to find a monument more iconic – or more controversial – than ‘Warrior on a Horse’.

Erected in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, this statue has come to symbolize the nation’s struggle to assert its identity and fully embrace its past.

The monument was erected as part of Skopje 2014, a massive project to give the city a ‘more European feel’. More than 40 new sculptures were built and 20 civic buildings had their facades refurbished, giving the center of Skopje an unreal, kitsch appearance.

Cast from bronze, the statue towers 22 meters high over Macedonia Square, the city’s main plaza. As the name suggests, it depicts a warrior on his steed atop an ivory column embellished with carved reliefs and a fountain.

The protagonist is presumably Alexander the Great, the king and war hero who was born in the ancient kingdom of Macedon. Locals know the statue as ‘Alexander’, but it’s no accident that it’s official name is altogether more vague.

When it was unveiled, the statue reignited a decades-long dispute with neighboring Greece over the use of the name ‘Macedonia’ and claims over Alexander as a national hero.

Politics aside, there’s no denying the statue’s grandeur or the fact that it’s a brilliant talking point for tourists who want to better understand North Macedonian history and national identity.

Emily from Wander-Lush

Where to see Warrior on a Horse:

  • Macedonia Square
  • Address: Macedonia, Skopje 1000, North Macedonia
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Memento Park (Budapest, Hungary)

One of the famous statues in Europe's Memento Park located in Budapes
One of the Soviet statues in Memento Park in Budapest. Photo by Benjamin Balazs from Pixabay.

If you are looking for something truly unique while visiting Budapest, Memento Park should be at the top of your list.

This amazing statue park is where all of the Old Soviet Statues that were dotted around the city now call home. Rather than being melted down and lost forever, they were moved here for future generations to see.

The park holds 41 statues of varying sizes from small busts of former leaders all the way to huge worker statues that tower over you. 

Located just out of Budapest the Memento Park is an easy bus ride that you can do on your own if you would prefer not to go on a tour out to the Statue Park.

The Park is an outdoor Museum. Shade is hard to come by on hot days as you wander through the exhibition.

There is an exhibition room where you are able to see what life was like back in the Soviet Communist Era as well as a cinema. The cinema shows short films that were shot by the regime for the secret police. They used these to educate the police in different ways to make sure the regime was not endangered.

The Memento Park is a great way to get out of the city and discover a section of Budapest that may not have been on your original travel plans.

Bec from Wyld Family Travel

Where to see Memento Park:

  • Address: Budapest, Balatoni út – Szabadkai utca sarok, 1223 Hungary
  • Cost to visit: $6 USD

Eros Bendato / The Head (Krakow, Poland) 

Eros Bendato, commonly referred to as The Head - one of the most famous statues in Europe - in Krakow Poland
Eros Bendato, commonly referred to as The Head – one of the most famous statues in Europe – can be found in the heart of Krakow, Poland. Photo by Laura DeLu from Pixabay

Another famous statue in Eastern Europe can be found in the busy market square of Old Town Krakow, Poland.

Located at the western corner near Town Hall Tower, Eros Bendato, commonly referred to as The Head, has become a popular photo op for tourists and visitors to the square.

Created by Polish artist Igor Mitoraj and donated to the city of Krakow, this hollow bronze sculpture is often crawling with kids and tourists climbing inside and on it for photos. 

While the meaning of the statue is a bit obscure, the public artwork depicts the hollow head of Eros, the Greek god of love and desire, lying on its side and draped in strips of bandages. 

Some scholars believe the sculpture, which was created in 1999 symbolizes the fall of man or civilization. Others point to Mitoraj’s previous works which share a common theme involving the fragility of the human body. 

The sculpture has not only become one of the most popular things to see in Krakow, it has also joined the ranks as one of the most famous statues in Europe.

Where to see The Head:

  • Town Hall Tower
  • Address: 31-010, Rynek Główny 29-30, 33-332 Kraków, Poland
  • Cost to visit: Free!

The Statue of Decebalus (Orsova, Romania)

The famous European Statue of Decebalus along the Danube River
The Statue of Decebalus along the Danube River. Photo by Dans3 from Pixabay

While most famous European sculptures are found within museums or popular city squares, the Statue of Decebalus can only be reached by boat.

Although visible from the road, this statue depicting the face of the last king of Dacia is carved in a rocky outcrop along the Danube river in southwestern Romania. 

Located outside the town of Orsova near the border with Serbia, the Statue of Decebalus is the tallest rock carving in Europe. Standing 180 feet tall, the impressive sculpture took 12 sculptors a decade to complete.

Commissioned in 1994 and funded by the richest man in Romania, the tribute to King Decebalus was completed in 2004. The king fought against the Roman empire to preserve independence for his land and people, which now make up Romania.

The Dacia empire remains an important part of Romanian history, heritage, and culture.  

Where to see Statue of Decebalus:

  • Danube River
  • DN57, Dubova 227170, Romania
  • Cost to visit: Free!

Have a question or comment about any of these famous statues in Europe? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts (or your favorite European sculptures) in the comments below. 

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This guide to the most famous statues in Europe was first written in August 2021 but was most recently updated in September 2023 for accuracy and current pricing and travel information.

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