Spain and France are undoubtedly two of the most beautiful countries in Europe. But, like in any country, there are beautiful statues to see. We show you here some of the most famous satues in Spain and France. And as you know, one of the best ways to get there quickly is by train, with Renfe-SNCF en Coopération trains.
Le Penseur, Paris
Views of Le penseur
Le Penseur, or The Thinker is without a doubt one of the world’s most famous sculptures, featuring a nude male sitting on a boulder, bent forward, with his elbow on his knee, and chin resting on his hand, representing deep thought, and is widely recognized as a symbol of philosophy and powerful thinking. What many people do not know however, was that the piece was originally named “The Poet”, and that Auguste Rodin first made a much smaller version of the man as a part of a larger masterpiece, and is believed to represent Dante himself at the Gates of Hell, from Dante’s own Inferno, contemplating his poem. It was not until about 20 odd years later, in the first years of the 20th century, that it was publicly presented as its own masterpiece, as a 1.8 metre high bronze casting, sitting on a stone pedestal. There are about 28 castings located in different places around the world, but the first one of all can be found in the Museé Rodin, dedicated to the artist’s work, located in the heart of Paris.
Le Baiser, Paris
Le Baiser, Paris - Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Wikimedia Commons
If you are sensing a pattern here, you aren’t wrong: Auguste Rodin is one of the world’s and France’s most famous sculptors, and his work is some of the country’s most prized possessions. This marble, life-size statue is also located in the Museé Rodin, and, just like The Thinker, was originally designed for Rodin’s The Gates of Hell portal, but was later adapted into this work of art. Le Baiser, or The Kiss depicts an embrace between the 13th century Italian noblewoman Francesca from Dante’s Inferno, who falls for her husband’s brother, Paolo. Her husband, however, finds out about their forbidden love, and, outraged by the infidelity and betrayal, tragically kills them both. In the statue, although kissing, the two lovers’ lips never actually touch - hinting at a terrible fate that they were murdered before they ever even kissed.
Venus de Milo, Paris
Venus de Milo - Jastrow and Dieglop, Wikimedia Commons
The Aphrodite of Milos, more commonly known as the Venus de Milo, is a marble statue from Ancient Greece, and quite possibly the most famous of its kind. Discovered buried under the ancient ruins of a city on the Greek island of Milos in 1820 by a Greek farmer, it is believed to have been sculpted between 130 and 100 years BC by Alexandros of Antioch. Permanently on display in the Louvre Museum, the half-naked, 2 meter tall statue is thought to be of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love (known as Venus in the Roman culture). This is, however, still quite an enigma and subject to much debate: some claim her to be Amphitrite, the goddess of the sea, who was notably worshipped on the island of Milos. One of her most famous, entrancing and mysterious features, her lack of arms, is one of the main reasons for this uncertainty: knowing what she held in her hands (whether a spear, an apple, a spool of thread, or others) would help greatly in identifying this mesmerizing goddess. History tells us that the farmer did actually also uncover pieces of her missing limbs, but upon being put back together in order to be offered as a gift to King Louis XVIII of France, these pieces were considered not to be up to scratch for a royal gift, and were lost to history while moving the Goddess to France.
Monument a Colom, Barcelona
Vews of Monument a Colom
The Catalan Monument a Colom, the Columbus monument, is a near 60 meter high monument crowned with a 7 meter tall bronze statue of Christopher Columbus, to whom the monument is dedicated. Sculpted back in 1888 after years of fighting to fund it, by Rafael Atché, it can be found in the center of a roundabout at the very bottom of Barcelona’s most famous street, La Rambla, and has long become one of the city’s most iconic monuments. The monument’s location is said to be the exact place where Columbus returned to land, after his great voyage to the New World, serving as a reminder that Barcelona was the place where he reported his incredible news of his discovery of the Americas to Spanish Queen Isabella. The statue on top is of the discoverer himself, with a map in one hand and the other outstretched, pointing out to sea. It was first believed that he was pointing to America, the newfound land, but it was later pointed out that this is geographically inaccurate, giving rise to several different theories, among them that he was in fact just pointing to sea, or the route to America via sea, or even not to America, but rather to his alleged hometown, Genoa, Italy (although this too is geographically incorrect). The statue on top is far from the only interesting and symbolic part of this monument however, with countless exquisite engravings, smaller statues of angels and other figures, and 8 large lions, all representing equally important components of this historically world-changing moment.
Cascada del Parque de la Ciutadella, Barcelona
Views of Cascada del Parque de la Ciutadella
This majestic and fascinating waterfall is so much more than a statue - it is an architectural , sculptural and aquatic masterpiece made up of statues, fountains and water spouts, located in the beautiful Ciutadella Park in the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona. It was built towards the end of the 19th century, between 1875 and 1888 for the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition (Spain’s first International World Fair) and although the general design is attributed to Josep Fonsterè, he had the invaluable help of several artists, architects and sculptors, among them the young Antoni Gaudí himself, who designed the piece’s hydraulic plan. The park lies on top a ground that was once Felipe V old Citadel, used to control the city after the War of the Spanish Succession in the 18th century, and for a long time was considered a symbol of darkness, hatred and oppression. It wasn’t until the mid to late 19th century that the city of Barcelona decided to turn this around and turn in into a beautiful public space that transmits the calming feelings of nature and peace, with the motto that “Parks are to cities what lungs are to people”. The monument is known for its mesmerizing beauty and sensational water flow, with sculptures and statues by some of the most famous artists of the day. It features Aurora’s Quadriga (the Roman Goddess of Dawn) as a sign that the sun will always rise after even the darkest of nights, the Birth of Venus (Goddess of beauty and love), Neptune (the God of the Sea), many other Gods and Goddesses, angels, griffins and even medallions with lizards, Gaudí’s famous mark.
La Fuente del Ángel Caído, Madrid
Views of La Fuente del Ángel Caído
One of the most controversial works of art in Spain, El Monumento del Ángel Caído, or the Statue of the Fallen Angel, is one of the very few statues in the entire world dedicated solely to the Devil himself (it is often believed to be the only one, although this is not true). Located among the paths of the delightful Retiro Park in the heart of Madrid, the 2 and a half meter tall statue stand on top of a pedestal and fountain, originally built by Ricardo Bellver for the 1878 Universal Exposition. Great dramatic intrigue and mystification lies in this Fallen Angel, depicting the Devil not as a red, blood-thirsty demon with two horns and a pitchfork, but rather as Lucifer (whose name means the bearer of light), the most beautiful and magnificent of all angels, who became so power-hungry and proud that he tried to replace God, and consequently was forever banished and fell from Heaven. What exactly this statue depicts, however, is uncertain and still debated: is it of Lucifer, outraged and tortured by his disastrous fate? Or of the Satan, embracing and absorbing his dark power and wickedness? Or could it be a warning, a message that if even the most worshipped of angels can fall that far, then anyone can? Whether one of these, all of the above, or another, unspoken message lies between this dazzling statue which curiously lies exactly 666 meters above sea level, it is most definitely a sight to be seen and interpreted for one’s self.