Preparing for your annual vacation, but don’t know where to go? Consider visiting a war memorial to bring some meaning to your travels.
To help you find the destination that’ll mean the most to you and your loved ones, we’ve put together a list of 10 awe-inspiring war monuments from around the world.
1. Monument to the Women of World War II
Located in London, this metal sculpture is a tribute to the women who contributed to their country during the second World War.
The monument is a large block with 17 clothing items that represent different ways that women contributed to the war efforts. It’s designed as though these strong women were finally able to hang up their uniforms and resume their normal life following the war.
2. Luxembourg American Cemetery
At this cemetery, over 5,000 American soldiers are buried who died either in the Battle of the Bulge or in efforts to free the city of Luxembourg. From the US perspective, the Battle of the Bulge was the bloodiest battle of World War II.
The cemetery is shaped like a fan divided into nine smaller areas. Throughout the Luxembourg American Cemetery, there are fountains, tall trees, and beautiful flower beds to create a peaceful final resting place for these Americans who died on foreign soil.
3. Irish National War Memorial Gardens
The Gardens were designed by a famous architect named Sir Edwin Lutyens to remember the nearly 50,000 Irishmen who died serving in the first World War.
This memorial park is 20 acres and includes a rose garden and a couple of book rooms. The Rolls of Honour are beautiful manuscripts where the names of the fallen soldiers are listed. These manuscripts are housed in the book rooms surrounded by roses.
4. Auschwitz, Birkenau
Birkenau was the largest camp within the Auschwitz concentration camp complex established by the Nazi party during World War II. Over a million people, mostly Jewish, were killed here between 1940 and 1945.
Prisoners of the concentration camp suffered through extreme labor, unsanitary conditions, separation from their families, criminal medical experimentation, starvation, and most often, execution.
The camp has been carefully preserved so that visitors may understand the horrific conditions there. Extremely knowledgeable tour guides walk visitors through the chilling prison blocks, crematoria, and gas chambers while offering insight into the daily lives of the victims.
5. Monument to the Battle of the Nations
This giant memorial commemorates the Battle of the Nations, which took place in 1813 between Napoleon’s army and an army of Russians, Austrians, and the Swedish. The monument is located right where Napoleon surrendered.
The monument looks like a two-story temple, with a huge statue of Michael the archangel. The first floor has eight huge sculptures that symbolize warriors that died in the battle. The second floor has four more statues that are even bigger.
From the rooftop, you can see incredible views of Leipzig, Germany.
6. Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Also known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, this memorial preserves the history of the first atomic bomb in human history.
Somehow, despite being located very close to where the bomb was dropped, the building’s outer walls and dome roof remained relatively intact. The inside of the building was instantly destroyed by fire, killing everyone inside.
Hiroshima was targeted because it was formerly a political and commercial city center. The rest of the area has been transformed into a memorial park, including a museum.
The people of Hiroshima decided to leave the Atomic Bomb Dome standing as the only undeveloped reminder of the bomb’s destruction.
7. Phnom Penh at Choeung EK
This memorial was built to remember the genocide under the rule of Khmer Rouge following the Cambodian Civil War. During this four year period, out of a population of 8 million people, 1.7 million people were murdered and discarded in mass graves.
It is a tower designed in a Buddhist style, with large floor-to-ceiling windows. Within the tower are 5,000 human skulls that were excavated from the mass graves, stacked on top of each other. The memorial also includes a few of the mass graves where some human bones are still visible.
8. Marine Corps War Memorial
Dedicated to every single member of the Marine Corps who has served America since the year 1775, this memorial depicts the planting of the American flag at the peak of Mount Suribachi on an island in the Pacific Ocean. This was part of an effort for America to reclaim the Pacific Islands the Japanese had taken in the early 1940s.
The real flag on the end of the 60-foot bronze flag pole flies every hour of every day of the year, no matter what.
9. Menin Gate
“To the Armies of the British Empire who stood here from 1914 to 1918 and to those of their dead who have no known grave.” This inscription at the top of the Menin Gate war memorial was written by author Rudyard Kipling.
The memorial is a tribute to the lost British soldiers who participated in the battles of Ypres during World War I. It pays tribute in particular to those soldiers whose bodies were never recovered.
Every night, traffic under the gate is stopped so that buglers can perform the solemn, ceremonial “Last Post.”
10. USS Arizona Memorial
During the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, over 2,000 sailors and Marine Corps servicemen were killed when the USS Arizona was bombed. There were also 49 civilian victims of the attack.
Today, there is a memorial built directly on top of the sunken battleship. The memorial does not actually touch or disturb the shipwreck out of respect for the 900 people who could not be recovered from the wreckage.
The memorial is free to enter and accessible by boat from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in Hawai’i.
The Importance of War Monuments
When we forget our past, history repeats itself. Visiting war monuments and learning about the causes and horrible impacts of different wars is incredibly important to becoming responsible citizens of the world.
When we remember what we come from, we make the world a safer, more peaceful place to live.