The Monumento Manto de María in Venezuela may be the tallest kinetic sculpture in the world, and also the tallest statue of the Virgin Mary. But like the work itself, it all depends on your point of view.
In July 2014, a group of Venezuelan architects began work on the large monument in the city of Barquisimeto, some 160 miles west of Caracas. The artwork was to be a representation of the Divina Pastora (Divine Shepherdess), a religious icon of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus, and the patron saint of the city. But rather than build a standard statue of stone or sheets of metal, the architects decided to utilize kinetic art, a sculptural style popular in Venezuela.
Completed in 2016, the image of the Virgin Mary was created using 3,772 pieces of aluminum tubing, forming a total of 522 tubes that create the image itself. As you move around the monument—which is located on a 131-foot hill and is visible from miles away—the image falls in and out of focus, and can only be seen clearly from certain angles.
The tubes that create the image are suspended from a massive concrete frame that surrounds the figure. The structure has a total height of 203 feet, while the image of the Virgin Mary reaches a height of 155 feet—and that’s enough to potentially put the Monumento Manto de María into the record books, twice. Not only does the monument have a claim to be the tallest kinetic art sculpture on the planet it might also be the world’s largest statue of the Virgin Mary.
Singapore had previously laid claim to the world’s largest kinetic art sculpture, in the form of Kinetic Rain, an 810-square-foot sculpture found in Changi Airport. But the Monumento Manto de María dwarfs Kinetic Rain. As for being the world’s largest statue of the Virgin Mary, some might argue that the Monumento Manto de María isn’t really a statue in the traditional sense. But the people of Barquisimeto hardly care about that. For them, the monument is a source of great pride; one that can be seen from across the city and beyond.
Know Before You Go
The Monumento Manto de María is located on a hill just to the east of the city of Barquisimeto, which is the capital of the Lara state of Venezuela. Visitors can walk up the concrete towers at either side of the monument, scaling the 296 steps and stopping at four different mezzanines on the way up or down. From the top you’ll have impressive views across Barquisimeto and Cabudare just to the south. The monument is normally open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the hours have changed quite often since it was opened, so check before you go. Entrance is free.