5 Unfinished Landmarks Worth A Visit

Many travelers associate cities, and even countries, with their iconic landmarks, like New York City with the Statue of Liberty, Paris with the Eiffel Tower and Pisa with its famous Leaning Tower. But what about those famous landmarks that never quite made it to completion?

We’ve rounded up five great places around the world where you’ll find “nearly famous” monuments worth visiting.

Barcelona, Spain: La Sagrada Familia

Still under construction after more than a century, The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, which translates to Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family (see image above), is one of the most visited monuments in the country, with nearly 3 million visitors each year. Scheduled for completion sometime between 2026 and 2028 (as a best guess, anyway), the tower and cathedral was visited by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

Edinburgh, Scotland: National Monument of Scotland

Construction began in 1826 on this memorial to honor Scottish soldiers who died during the Napoleonic Wars. Located on the top of Calton Hill, the monument was modeled after the Parthenon in Athens, but, due to lack of funding, was left unfinished. Today, the monument is nicknamed everything from “Scotland’s Disgrace,” to “Edinburgh’s Folly.”

Chiapas, Mexico: Tonina Maya Ruins
Between the fourth century and 900 A.D., this area was a bustling mecca of construction and today still serves as a major tourist attraction; however, construction stopped suddenly in the year 909. Visitors today can tour a museum and see many gruesome depictions of how the Mayans dealt with their enemies. (Ed. Note, 4/24: Please note that the ruins pictured above are in Palenque, another Mayan site.)

Bavaria, Germany: Neuschwanstein Castle
The model for Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria for Richard Wagner, but the king died in 1886 before the castle was completed. It was opened to the public afterwards and has become a major tourist attraction for the region, with more than 1.3 million people visiting annually.

South Dakota, USA: Crazy Horse
Built in response to Mt. Rushmore, this memorial to Lakota leader Crazy Horse is the world’s largest mountain sculpture. Carving began in 1948 and has been continually delayed due to lack of funds and refusal to accept government backing. Yet, it’s surrounded by a museum and welcomes bus tours and more than one million visitors per year.

[Image Credit: Ulf Liljankoski, Ben Christian Photos, Archer10, Nite Dan, JJSchad]

GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of October 8

Happy Friday the 13th all! Time for a little weekly deja vu… Nothing to be scared or panicked about, just relax and review.

5. Dying to Travel:

If avian flu and pandemic disease worry you dare not look at this plug on the interactive risk maps based off the Maplecroft Avian Influenza Risk Index. They might just reveal that avian flu is closer to you than you think. Or you could just be paranoid.

4. Miracle Camping Tub:

Not going to lie – I want one of these. While trying to help his own friend’s overcome some of their camping woes like showering and staying clean, he points us to a spectacular $6,000 gear piece called the Dutchtub and helps all and anyone out that has $6,000 bucks to spend on the equipment. Until that day arrives for me, bird baths it is!

3. Hidden Gems: Crazy Horse:
The Crazy Horse Memorial found in South Dakota’s Black Hills isn’t the most hidden of gems and I’m sure you may have heard of it at some point in your life, but have you been? If your answer is no then my question is what on Earth are you waiting for? Check out this Native American great in this Hidden Gems review.

2. Slum Tourism:
Some of us avoid slums by all means while others are out with video cam in tow. Could touring someone’s poverty stricken life be the latest in tourist trends or a insensitive means of dropping in and getting out when things get too real, too terrible, and too poor? Check out the story Erik directs us to and see what side of the picket-fence you’re on.

1. French Say NON! to Smoking in Public Places:

I think this one says it all! Cheers to good health prevailing! But, oh, yes, there is that part of French culture you have to worry about as Erik mentions in his blurb, that one must think about and hope isn’t necessarily ruined by the no smoking in public places rule. I think it’s marvelous and the French, they’ll be okay.

Hidden Gems: Crazy Horse

In my lifetime there are many places I have gone and few that made me want to repeat visits. You see, my pal and I headed out a couple days ago expecting to be blown away by one of America’s most astonishing memorial’s and mountain carvings – Mount Rushmore. However, there is an uncompleted memorial 17 miles down the road that flipped our lids, turned our hearts inside out and begged us to revisit sometime again in the future. That memorial is known as Crazy Horse and will be the world’s largest mountain carving upon completion. However, as an unfinished memorial resting in South Dakota’s Black Hills and a hefty admission fee ($10 an adult or $24 per car load) one has to wonder what makes it so spectacular, breathtaking, and worth our attention? Well, with all great memorials there is usually a monumental story behind the piece and THAT is what makes Crazy Horse so extraordinary.

From the exterior the Welcome Center doesn’t look like much, but you can see the face of Crazy Horse up the hill in the distance. Once inside the story of the great Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Indian leader is revealed along with the story of a man and sculptor known as Korczak Ziolkowski that took up the challenge of the mountain carving.

Now you must forgive me for I’m not a historian, but from the orientation I became aware of the life of Crazy Horse and will provide you with what I now know. Crazy Horse was born in the Black Hills of South Dakota sometime in the 1840’s and died on September 6, 1877 at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. He was standing there under a flag of truce when he was stabbed in the back by an American soldier. His death was a major upset and he was recognized by the Lakota tribe as a great leader, warrior and defended his people and their way of life as best he could.As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Indians; their land had been taken away and a good number of their people had perished from war – news had made way that the white man would be carving faces of great white heroes into the stone located in the Black Hills. The stone carving would later become Mt. Rushmore and known to the Lakota Sioux as ‘Six Grandfathers.’ However, there was an Indian chief with a vision as well. Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote a letter to a Sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowki which said the following, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too.” On May 3, 1947 Korczak arrived in the Black Hills to accept the Indians’ invitation and he started working on the mountain nearly 40 years in age in 1949.

While Korczak battled many hardships working on the mountain he was a strong believer in the free enterprise system. In his eyes Crazy Horse should be a nonprofit educational and cultural, humanitarian project built by the interested public and not the taxpayer. With this thought process he twice turned down ten million dollars in potential federal funding. Korczak passed away on October 20, 1982, but before his death he and his wife, Ruth, prepared three books of detailed plans to be used with his scale models to continue the project.

After learning all this and more from watching the short film, we were then let out into the exhibit halls of the Indian Museum of North America.

Throughout the museum you’ll find beautiful Indian artwork and rare artifacts. Native American artists and crafts people can also be found creating handicrafts in the cultural center. The museum is constructed of a warm looking native pine which enhances the galleries giving a glowing feel. Work your way around and you’ll notice pictures from several stages of the Crazy Horse build, dedications and even hand-written letters detailing one woman’s perspective on the death of Crazy Horse. The map below highlights many points of interest to make sure you don’t miss all the huge visitor complex has to offer. Made to enlighten and entertain both children and adults make sure you step into the Tipi or sit Indian-style out front for a picture. Stroll through the sculptor’s log studio-home, the bronze showroom, or step outside on the viewing veranda for a closer look at the Crazy Horse Memorial. There is much to do.

More Indian artwork.

Chief Henry Standing Bear pictured with Korczak.

Indian artifacts.

My friend Richard finds sitting Indian-style very comfortable.

Because Crazy Horse is a nonprofit project your admission becomes the primary funding for the mountain, but there are several other ways to help and all donations are tax deductible under IRS rules. Gifts include: monetary, materials, supplies, tools, light and heavy equipment, library books, office equipment, Indian artifacts, fine art, historic photos, stock and computer hardware and software. Otherwise keep the memory alive by purchasing a souvenir in the gift shop. Items range from books, artwork, jewelry, music and collectibles. I personally picked up the Everyday Lakota book which is an English-Sioux dictionary for beginners. I don’t imagine becoming even close to fluent, but I thought it was a good find. Anyhow, once you’ve made your way inside and out of the complex try heading into the Laughing Water restaurant. My friend and I wanted to taste-test some Native American food, but we had made it too late and the restaurant would be closing up early due to off-season hours. This gave us another reason to come back.

From the restaurant we noticed the 1/34th scale model of Crazy Horse on the viewing veranda. Looking at the scale version and back up at the mountain you see that they’ve still got a long way to go. The arm, hand, mane, and horse’s head have yet to appear, but once completed it will be the world’s largest mountain carving standing taller
than the Washington Monument, Mount Rushmore, and the Eiffel Tower. It will be 641 ft (195 m) wide and 563 ft (172 m) high. We wondered if it might ever be completed in our lifetime and even if it isn’t we are sure to return.

From a Korczak Ziolkowski: Crazy Horse, as far as the scale model is concerned, is to be carved not so much as a lineal likeness but more as a memorial to the spirit of Crazy Horse – to his people. With his left hand thrown out pointing in answer to the derisive questions asked by a white man, “Where are your lands now?” he replied,

The Crazy Horse Memorial is open all year long. During summer hours are from 7 AM to dark. Off-season hours are from 8 AM to dark. Admission fees are $10 an adult (under 6 free) or $24 a carload. Special rates are given for tours, seniors, and motorcyclists. The Mt. carving is lighted nightly for one hour year around. As of 2005 the memorial began a “Legends in Light” laser-light storytelling show which runs from late May until early Fall. The multimedia program with photos and animation is projected on the 500′ mountain sides nightly (weather permitting). Laughing Water Restaurant is open early May to late October and serves Native American specialties and U.S. dishes. If heading out for summer be sure to check out www.crazyhorsememorial.org to find out when the memorial opens up for the one weekend walk around the memorial. If going during off-season get their early enough to tour the facilities as well as grab a bite to eat. If you time it correctly you need not make two trips to see the laser light show.

Crazy Horse Memorial is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota on US Highway 16/385 just 17 miles southwest of Mt. Rushmore.

(All photos taken by Adrienne Wilson)