In towns and cities around the world there are statues, monuments, and street art erected to beautify, inspire, and sometimes perhaps amuse us.
They may be mascots for the town, some important person who impacted the history of the location, or often just to celebrate some triumph.
However, one of the lasting impressions I will have of our travels through the Scandinavian countries this summer were the number of unusual statues we encountered that don’t seem to fit into this typical mold.
It started with this violent piece in Kalmar, Sweden which tops a fountain in the downtown area. This was not your typical dignitary immortalized in stone.
Only much later did I learn this is supposed to be the triumph of David over Goliath.
When we reached Copenhagen, statues took on a whole new dimension. Serenity is not a word I would attach to many of this city’s statues. Yes – we found several whimsical and classic designs, including the famous Little Mermaid, but then there were the *others*.
First, we discovered the frenzied Horseman with a steed exhibiting a face of pure terror. From what were they fleeing?! If there was any possibility that this horror was still lurking about, I wanted to know so I could make my escape as soon as possible.
Later, I learned this statue was called Valkyrie and Horse … from Norse mythology. Valkyrie were handmaidens to Odin and were said to accompany warriors into battle, choosing those who would live or die. They would then accompany the slain to the afterlife – Valhalla.
Not far from the Valkyrie, we encountered another horse in the process of being eaten by a lion. What a charming statue with massive genitalia at eye level.
I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the same poor animal from above – unsuccessful in its effort to escape and abandoned by its rider.
Then there was the battle with the snake … not any snake, but a horrible adversary which had already brought the horse down. Not surprisingly, I discovered the statue was called “Moment of Peril”.
We began to think it might simply a peculiarity of Copenhagen – perhaps an indication of a tortured past …. and we clung to that belief until we reached Oslo.
There we encountered life-and-death struggles with reptilian creatures on top of huge columns framing the bridge in Frogner Park.
One poor soul was clearly losing the battle.
In all my travels, I’ve never encountered so much violent struggle captured in stone. I’m so curious … is there anywhere else in the world with such an unusual collection of statutes?