To the outside world, Genghis Khan, the fearsome Mongolian warrior who conquered half the known world in the 13th century, is remembered for his brutalities and destruction that he brought upon the conquered regions resulting in the death of forty million people. But to Mongolians, he is a national hero, a larger-than-life figure and the symbol of Mongolian culture, and for good reasons. Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history, revived the Silk Road, uniting warring tribes and was responsible for cementing the position of Mongols in the world’s map.
After Mongolia overthrew communist rule more than 20 years ago, there appeared a slew of monuments and products celebrating the famous personage known locally as Chinggis Khaan. Mongolia’s main international airport in Ulaanbaatar is named Chinggis Khaan International Airport, students attend Chinggis Khaan University and tourists can stay at the Chinggis Khaan Hotel. His face can be found on everyday commodities, from liquor bottles to candy products, and on bank notes.
In 2008, a gigantic statue of Genghis Khan riding on horseback was erected on the bank of the Tuul River at Tsonjin Boldog, 54 km east of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, where according to legend, he found a golden whip. The statue is 40 meters tall and wrapped in 250 tons of gleaming stainless steel. It stands on top of the Genghis Khan Statue Complex, a visitor center that itself is 10 meters tall, with 36 columns representing the 36 khans from Genghis to Ligdan Khan. The statue is symbolically pointed east towards his birthplace.
Inside the two-story base of the statue, visitors can see a replica of Genghis Khan’s legendary golden whip, sample traditional cuisine of horse meat and potatoes, or play billiards. Visitors can ascend to the exhibition hall using an elevator at the back of the horse and then walk to the horse’s head passing through its chest and the back of its neck from where they can have an excellent panoramic view over the complex area and the scenery beyond.
The Chinggis Khan Statue is currently the biggest equestrian statue in the world.
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The Kunsthaus Graz Art Museum in Graz, Austria, is a gigantic blob-shaped building with a dozen or so tube like nozzles, acting as windows, that stick out from its curved roof, giving the structure an undeniable alien creature like look. Indeed, its designers, London architect Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, have themselves named the building the “Friendly Alien”. Inside the beast’s belly are two huge floors for modern art exhibitions.
Located on the west bank of the River Mur in the historic center, the Graz Art Museum was built as part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations in 2003, and has since become an architectural landmark in Graz.
The building’s roof is made from thousands of acrylic glass panels that generates energy with built-in photovoltaic panels. The outer skin is embedded with some nine-hundred fluorescent rings that can be individually programmed, creating a work of art on the structure itself.