Elia – Herning, Denmark - Atlas Obscura


Herning, Denmark

This huge industrial sculpture looks like a UFO and a factory had a baby. 


Visible in an ominous flash from the train on the way to Herning, Denmark the huge sculpture known as Elia is a jarring black tribute to industrial design via an abstract vision of Hell.

Elia is the creation of Danish sculptor Ingvar Cronhammar whose works often take the shape of angular abstractions that look like nothing so much as art deco flourishes come to life. Finished in 2000, Elia itself is a massive, 200-foot in diameter dome that is capped by four towers that resemble the smokestacks of a mid-century factory. Four equally spaced staircases lead to the top of the dome where visitors can peer down a shaft located between the towering stacks. Most of the time the dark shaft seems to simply lead endlessly into the ground but at a random interval once every 18 days, a gout of flame issues from the depths. The entire work is constructed of pure black metal save for the red caps atop each of the smokestacks which are illuminated each night, giving the piece an even more demonic quality.

Beneath the dome itself, the ground has been carved into a concave bowl and when it storms in the area, the whole piece acts as a giant drum, amplifying any thunder in a dreadful roar. Visitors cannot enter the depths of Elia, but even from the outside, the sculpture’s rather imposing atmosphere is communicated for miles around. 

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