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It’s alright if you can’t remember how long any of the major wars lasted. We won’t even judge if you can’t remember anything from history class except your teacher’s name.

But that shouldn’t stop you appreciating some of the greatest monuments in the world, which pay tribute to truly epic feats of bravery and endurance.

Seeing a country’s memorials gives a fascinating insight into its history, values and culture, as well as being a moving reminder of the lengths soldiers go to protect their loved ones.

Go and be inspired – we promise we won’t test you on the dates when you get back. 

 

1. Motherland Calls, Volgograd

The Motherland Calls, or Mother Motherland, is well off the typical Russian tourist route in Mamayev Kurgan, a hill overlooking the southwestern city of Volgograd (previously called Stalingrad), but it is a striking example of a monument that captures the fervour of battle in one stunning figure.

The Motherland Calls was the largest statue in the world when finished in 1967, measuring 82m high, but has since been outdone by numerous colossal Buddhist monuments.

The statue is part of the Stalingrad Memorial, which commemorates the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-43.

This bloody conflict was one of the deadliest in history, with an estimated two million casualties.

Mamayev Kurgan’s hilltop was a strategic location because it provided elevated views of the city, and was the site of particularly fierce fighting, with control switching between Soviet and the Axis forces many times before the Soviets prevailed.

Constructed out of concrete, the statue weighs 7900 tonnes and has started to lean significantly, shifting a worrying 20cm since it was originally built.

Conservation works began a few years ago but experts say if it moves much further it will collapse – so watch out for the point of Mother Motherland’s mammoth sword.

If you decide to visit, you should also watch where you step as it’s said fragments of shrapnel and bone from battle can still be found on the ground. 

visitrussia.org.uk

2. Arc de Triomphe, Paris

You know it’s a big deal landmark and may have snapped a picture of yourself standing under it, or seen it as the Tour de France comes in to the finish. 

Got no idea what it represents, though? Well, located at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Elysees, the iconic 49.5m arch is a tribute to those who fought during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.

It took 30 years to build and was finished in 1836. 

arcdetriompheparis.com


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