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Qiannan Buyizumiaozuzizhizhou, China

Yelang Valley

It took an artist 20 years to create this sprawling sculpture garden honoring the area's ancient inhabitants. 

Stone figures tower above the grassy turf within a patch of forest in the Chinese province of Guizhou. Their eyes, forever open, gaze across the lush landscape. Though the rocky creatures look like the magical leftovers of a long-gone ancient settlement, they’re actually relatively new creations.

The stunning structures are the work of Song Peilun, an artist, cartoonist, and former professor. He spent 20 years designing the sprawling village of stone figures. Known as Yelang Valley, the massive collection of art spans over two million square feet and includes castles, lakes, and freestanding towers adorned with facial features.

Local masons helped with the construction, though since they had little artistic experience, Peilun instructed them to treat building the structures as if they were making pigpens.

Peilun began building Yelang Valley after visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial on a trip to the United States. He quit his job as a professor and purchased a then-isolated plot of land. The artist chose to build the mystical-looking sculpture park out of stone, as it was abundantly available and would therefore be environmentally friendly and cheap.

Yelang Valley is his way of honoring and remembering the Yelang tribes that inhabited the area nearly 2,000 years ago before disappearing and leaving few artifacts in their wake.

Though the area was once isolated and rural, there are now a handful of university buildings that have popped up nearby. Students sometimes help Peilun continue constructing the ever-evolving artwork.