The connotation of the word "monument" can change, depending on how much (or how little) you've traveled. If your wanderlust has been limited to the tourist traps of the United States (and even, for the most part, Europe), then it might be difficult for you to imagine a monument being anything other than grand (paging the Statue of Liberty) or even cliché (Bonjour, Eiffel Tower).
To be sure, trying to formulate a list of the world's most bizarre monuments and statues is like trying to make a list of beaches with sand: There are literally more than you can count. I've done my best to curate the strangest, however. Have you visited any of these?
01 of 05
Shakira Statue in Barranquilla, Colombia
Shakira makes no secret of her Latina heritage, to say nothing of her perpetually truthful hips, and although her various talents have rightfully made her a legend in the world of entertainment, she's practically a national hero in her native Colombia. This is particularly the case in her home city of Barranquilla, located along the Caribbean coast near Cartagena, where a huge metal statue of Shakira has been erected.
Barranquilla is on the way from Santa Marta, the gateway to Tayrona National Park, to Cartagena, but hasn't necessarily emerged as a tourism destination in its own right. That is, unless you plan to visit during the Barranquilla Carnival, which is among the largest in Colombia, and takes place every year in February.
02 of 05
Giant Octopus in Osaka, Japan
The most ubiquitous structure along the Dotonbori pedestrian promenade in Osaka, Japan is the crab above Kani Doraku restaurant, but arguably, the wildest one – and there is enough wildness along Dotonbori to go around, as you'll know if you've ever walked along there – is the huge pink octopus about halfway down the street.
An added benefit of paying a visit to this terrifying-looking cephalopod? Sample the delectable takoyaki octopus fritters served underneath it.
Another honorable Osaka mention is the giant blowfish you see while walking through the city's crazy Shinsekai district, which looks even more bizarre after you've drunk some sake.
03 of 05
Carhenge in Nebraska, USA
If you've only visited, say, Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument, you might believe the U.S. has no capacity for weirdness, at least not when it comes to monument-building. You would, of course, be wrong, a truth that's perhaps best illustrated by Carhenge, built near the city of Alliance in rural Nebraska, in the state's panhandle region.
Structural similarities notwithstanding, Carhenge's origins are decidedly less mysterious than those of its Druid-built namesake in England – a man named Jim Reinders built it in 1987, as a near-exact replica of Stonehenge and a tribute to his father.
Visiting Carhenge is easy—if you happen to be in Nebraska in the first place, that is. On the other hand, that's somewhat unlikely, so one way to tick this off your bucket list of strange monuments is to visit here on a road trip. Alliance is only a couple hours north of I-80, which means that you can make a stop here between Omaha and Denver (or... vice-versa) without much added stress.
04 of 05
The Pissing Boy of Brussels, Belgium
The weirdness of The Pissing Boy of Brussels (known locally by its Flemish name, Manneken Pis) is right in its name – not a lot of explanation is needed. One thing you should know before you get your hopes up, however, is that the statue is very small, to the extent that it's easy to miss as you traipse through the center of Old Brussels.
Another thing many tourists don't realize about Mannekin Pis is that it doesn't have some deeper meaning—it's simply about Belgians mocking (or "taking the piss" out of themselves) ever so slightly. So, grab some fries or chocolate nearby and have a good laugh as you walk by the statue, which is even known to sport clothing sometimes, depending on what's going on in Belgium or around the world.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Kaskad in Yerevan, Armenia
Armenia's capital, Yerevan, is a strange place in general, for reasons which are well-reported in the travel blogosphere. But the strangest structure in Armenia is definitely Kaskad, which translates to "cascade," or waterfall.
A giant concrete monument with only a few trickles of water here and there, Kaskad is crowned by a towering monolith, which was built to commemorate 50 years of Soviet presences in the city (and ironically completely not long before the collapse of the U.S.S.R.).
As you walk up the hundreds of stairs that lead from the charming sidewalk cafés at the base of Kaskad to the top, which provides a panoramic view of Yerevan and nearby Mount Ararat, you'll notice another huge monument – Mother Armenia – off to the north and west. The Soviet Union might have collapsed, but the Soviet dream—at least, the dream of massive and mostly hideous architecture—is still alive and well in Armenia, which is thus home to some of the world's weirdest statues and... monuments.