Obscura Day 2017! Join our global celebration of exploration and discovery.
May 6

Odessa, Ukraine

Darth Vader Statue

A monument to Lenin has been transformed into a statue of everyone's favorite black-helmeted, fool-choking Sith Lord. 

He was supposed to bring balance to the socioeconomic forces of industrialized society, not leave them in darkness! But — just like the prequels, before we even saw them — we all know how that turned out.

Communism eventually collapsed under the weight of its own inefficiency (also like, well, you know), and in the two-and-a-half decades since countless Soviet-era monuments have been scrubbed from cities and towns across the former Eastern Bloc. In April 2015, Ukraine formally passed a controversial package of “decommunization” laws requiring, among other things, the removal of communist monuments. However, for one particular Lenin statue in Odessa, a Ukrainian artist had other ideas.

Located in an old factory courtyard on the outskirts of the port city, the statue was scheduled for demolition until Alexander Milov — a local artist whose work was featured at Burning Man in 2015 — proposed a different solution: encasing the existing Lenin statue within a new titanium facade, creating the world’s first monument to Darth Vader.

The pose of the old statue has proven to be strikingly appropriate for the new subject; Lenin’s long coat has become Darth Vader’s flowing cape, and the former Soviet leader’s clenched fist now holds a lightsaber. This is not Lord Vader’s first foray into Ukrainian politics, as the Sith master put forward by the Internet Party of Ukraine as a candidate for prime minister in 2014 (the statue is not a project of the Internet Party, despite Milov’s past involvement with them).

If you are in the vicinity of the statue and sense a powerful presence in the Force on your phone or other wireless device, that’s because a WiFi access point in concealed in the statue’s helmet, providing free internet to followers of the dark side (or whoever).

Know Before You Go

Odessa’s Darth Vader statue stands in a private courtyard surrounded by office buildings and factories at 28 Stovpova Street, on the outskirts of town. The entrance to the courtyard may be locked, so it’s best to check in with the security guard to the right of the main gate when entering. The guard on duty will likely speak little or no English, but he will definitely understand the name “Darth Vader.”You can also enter the courtyard through the office building to left of the supermarket. Again, mention "Darth Vader" to the guard on the reception desk and he will buzz you through. Trolleybus number 3 runs from downtown Odessa, and stops in front of the factory gates.

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