Obviously, there is a lot more to countries around the world other than their landmarks of the reason people choose to travel to certain locations. Some of these landmarks have amazing backstories, while others have fantastic legends surrounding them.
Statue of Christ the Redeemer Art Deco Towering above Rio de Janeiro, one of the largest statues of Jesus in the world and one of its New Seven Wonders. The statue’s open arms are a symbol of peace and it is the most famous landmark in Brazil. The right arm points to south Rio and the left to north Rio.
In the 1850s a local priest dreamt up the idea of creating a Christian monument on Mount Corcovado. The priest’s dream was eventually realized after the First World War when, after a handful of designers crafted the statue, it was opened to the public on 12 October 1931. Workers who made and glued the 6 million soapstone tiles that cover the statue, are said to have written messages on the back in the form of wishes or simply their lover’s name.
A TREE OF CONTENTION
Maungakiekie is Maori for “mountain of the kiekie vine.” Also known as One Tree Hill, this volcanic peak in Auckland, New Zealand, holds a dear spot in the history of the country. After a battle in 1740, a fortified Maori village was abandoned when their chief was killed in action. The village sat on top of the volcano and only one native tree remained after it was abandoned, hence the name One Tree Hill.
Unfortunately, a settler cut down the lone tree in 1852, after which businessman John Logan Campbell decided to plant a grove of pine trees in its place. Of this grove only one tree survived. Campbell’s gravesite is located at the peak alongside a bronze statue of Chief Tamaki as well as an obelisk dedicated to the Maori people.
In 2016 nine new trees were planted to replace the pine and these are now surrounded by a fence. Once they are strong enough, arborists will pick the hardiest of the bunch to remain, once again returning the true meaning of the phrase One Tree Hill.
THE SEA PEOPLE
In South Africa along the Wild Coast lies Hole-in-the-Wall, one of SA’s most memorable landmarks. Hole-in-the-Wall is a massive, detached cliff with an opening through its centre that has been carved out by waves over time.
The cliff was named by Captain Vidal who headed the Barracouta vessel in 1823 when sent on an expedition to survey the coastline. The locals, the Bomvana people, called the cliff ‘iziKhaleni’ which means ‘Place of the Sound’ or ‘Place of Thunder.’
Legend has it that the Mpako River once was a lagoon blocked off by the cliff. A young, beautiful girl sat on the cliff’s edge each day and stared out to sea, drawn to the overwhelming power of the waves. One day, one of the sea people came out to meet her. And when he approached the girl, he immediately asked her to marry him. However, when her father found out, he was enraged and warned her never to see the man from the sea again.
The girl disobeyed and ran to the man she had fallen in love with, telling him about her father’s warning. The man told her to wait until high tide. When she returned to the cliff during high tide, several sea people were standing on top of it, carrying a giant fish. They used the fish to carve a hole in the cliff, creating a passage from the lagoon to the sea. As the water gushed through the hole, pushed forward by the high tide, hundreds of sea people flowed through on the waves, led by the girl’s sea lover. She went to his side, and the entire group disappeared back through the hole in the rock and was never seen or heard from again.
To this day, the legend continues, and it is said that when the tide is high, the sea people can be heard singing above the sound of the waves surrounding Hole-in-the-Wall.
ANGEL ON TOP OF THE WORLD
As the towers fell on 11 September 2001, some saw the devil’s face in the plumes of smoke. Some firmly believing that the devil (or even an image of Osama bin Laden) appeared as the South Tower came down.
As part of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center Complex, the Freedom Tower, or One World Trade Center was constructed. The building opened on 3 November 2014 and its observatory opened on 29 May 2015. On 11 September 2016, the Tribute in Light Memorial lights shone brightly in the place where the two towers once stood.
Photographer, Rich McCormack, took several photos of the lights and soon became aware of something unusual in the photographs once he went through them. High up in the sky, at the end of the light beam, was a figure that resembled an angel. McCormack insisted that he hadn’t tampered with the photographs in any way and that he believed it may have been an angel or the Lord himself looking down on Manhattan.
THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT
Constructed as a small fortress in 889 AD, the Alhambra complex in Granada, Spain, was renovated and rebuilt in the middle of the 13th century to include a royal palace. Alhambra is the Spanish adaption of the Arabic ‘qa’lat al-Hamra which means ‘red castle. The royal palace is the only surviving palatine city of the Islamic Golden Age.
One of the most popular legends being the one that alludes to the end of the world. On the Gate of Justice, one of the main entrances to the fortress, a hand has been carved into the arch stone and a key in the centre of the inner archway. Both are prominent Islamic symbols with the hand used to ward off the evil eye. Legend says that when the hand and the key join to become one, the world as we know it and the fortress itself will be destroyed simultaneously. It is also believed that fearful Catholics have put up a statue of the Virgin Mary over the door to the fortress, to prevent this calamity from happening.
CEREMONY OF STRENGTH
To commemorate the landing of King-Emperor George V and Queen-Empress Mary at Apollo Bunder, Bombay (Mumbai today) in 1911, a massive arch-monument was erected and named the Gateway of India. George V was the first British monarch to visit India.
It was also the place from which the last British troops departed India in 1948, after the country gained its independence the year before. Furthermore, the gateway was the place Mahatma Ghandi landed when he returned to India after his 22-year stay in South Africa.
Eleven years after the devasting terror attacks on Mumbai in 2008, the Gateway of India became host to the 26/11 Stories of Strength event.