Giant Lenin Head of Ulan-Ude – Ulan-Ude, Russia - Atlas Obscura

Giant Lenin Head of Ulan-Ude

This massive glowering Lenin head gazes out over eastern Siberia. 


Every leader leaves behind a trail of monuments named after them: foundations, schools, statues, and so on. Of course, the biggest and the best almost always belonged to the most iron-fisted ruler. There seems to be a direct connection between the authoritarianism of the ruler and the size of the statues erected in their honor.

Though the fascists had some, it was the communist countries that were always the very best at this. Some, of course, have been removed after the fall of communism (in the case of the Budapest Stalin statue leaving only boots behind), but others have carried on, as is the case with the Ulan Ude Lenin head.

Lenin, who is much better remembered (and for good reason) than Stalin or the other communist leaders, is immortalized in this Siberian city (home to some 359,391 residents and the major center of Russian Buddhism), is the largest version of his head ever created! Built in 1970 for the centennial of Lenin’s birth, the colossal bronze head towers some 7.7 meters (25 feet) tall over the main city square and weighs 42 tons. The bronze head has avoided the patina associated with bronze with a special coating on the metal, and is a common meeting place, and even wedding photo site. 

Locally it is also known as “the world’s biggest Jewish head,” though not for religious reasons, but rather because each winter when snow falls on the head it sticks to the top creating what appears to be a sort of snow-yarmulke.

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March 6, 2010

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