These Landmarks Are Smaller Than They Seem

These landmarks are larger than life, but smaller than you'd believe!

One of the most cliché aspects of travel – and indeed, the definitive element of sightseeing – is landmarks, which are often larger than their respective destinations in our collective nomadic consciousness. Indeed, it's difficult to imagine Los Angeles without thinking of the Hollywood sign, or Shanghai without the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

Of course, this is "Weird and Amazing Travel," so I'm not going to simply write about landmarks today and leave it at that. No, I'm going to discuss one travel tendency that puzzles me to no end: Landmarks whose reputations are larger than they are.

  • 01 of 05

    The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

    The Alamo
    ••• joe daniel price/Getty Images

    As a native Texan, one slogan that's emblazoned in my consciousness, my life as a traveler notwithstanding, is "Remember the Alamo." Yet, although the Alamo's history is certainly huge – built in the 18th century, it has stood while six flags flew over Texas, and was one of the largest missions in the southern U.S./northern Mexico before its secularization – the building itself is extremely small, especially when placed in the context of San Antonio's growing skyline.

  • 02 of 05

    The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, Denmark

    The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen
    ••• Manfred Gottschalk/Getty Images

    It's bad enough that a movie made in 1991 (albeit a sweet one that defined many of my peers' childhoods) is better known that a statue of the same name, which has sat just off the coast of Copenhagen, Denmark since 1913, when Danish artist Edvard Eriksen installed it to commemorate Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale, which incidentally inspired the movie. The worst thing? The Little Mermaid is a mere 30 inches in height.

  • 03 of 05

    The Peeing Boy of Brussels, Belgium

    The peeing boy, Brussels
    ••• NicolasMcComber/Getty Images

    Belgium's capital Brussels is an overall interesting city, but with the exception of a couple attractions, it's much more useful to residents (and E.U. politicians) than it is to tourists. One of Brussels' biggest (and strangest) tourist attractions also happens to be one of its smallest, to say nothing of the statue's endowment: "Manneken Pis," also known as "The Peeing Boy of Brussels," stands at just 24 inches tall, erected (no pun intended!) on a seemingly random street corner (one that is incidentally across from a delicious Belgian chocolate shop).

  • 04 of 05

    The Mona Lisa in Paris, France

    Tourists photographing the Mona Lisa painting
    ••• Peter Adams/Getty Images

    Poor Mona Lisa. In addition to being repeated attacked for her looks (and accused of being a man), she's extremely small – and not just in the context of the hundreds of other tourist attractions in Paris, particularly the iconic Louvre museum where she "lives." No, the painting is just 30" x 21", a size that seems even smaller amid the throngs of Paris tourists who come to see it every day. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    The Statue of Liberty

    Statue of Liberty
    ••• Don't be fooled – Lady Liberty isn't near as tall as any building in Manhattan. Paul Houle via Wikimedia Commons

    Many of you, especially New Yorkers, are probably shaking your heads at this one – and not just due to your NYC pride! Please: Bear with me. You see, while the Statue of Liberty is hundreds of feet high, rather than a yard or so, it really is tiny when you compare it to the New York skyline in front of which it is often depicted.

    The Statue of Liberty stands just 305 feet above the sea beneath it, which is just 20 per cent of the Empire State Building's height, and only 1/6 the height of the newly-completed One World Trade Center mega skyscraper. Good thing for Lady Liberty, she stands far enough away from Manhattan that she always seems to tower over it in pictures. Thankfully, no one ever photographs her the other way!