ISABEL RUBIO ARROYO | Tungsteno
According to a legend from the late 1550s, the figure of the Virgin Mary appeared several times to residents of the town of Carmona, in the state of Trujillo, Venezuela. She was seen walking in the afternoons to buy candles for her hearth. Some men asked her why she was walking alone, to which she supposedly replied: "Not alone, but with God, the sun and the stars." In honour of this apparition, 40 years ago a gigantic concrete statue of the Virgen de la Paz was erected on top of the hill called Peña de la Virgin.
One of the tallest sculptures in the Americas
The most striking feature of this sculpture is its sheer size. It is 46.72 metres tall, 16 metres across and 18 metres deep at the base, and weighs about 1,200 tonnes. "It is the tallest habitable sculpture in the Americas, centimetres taller than the Statue of Liberty," affirms the Venezuelan Ministry of Economy and Finance. It is also taller than Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Some say it is the best work of Manuel de la Fuente, a Spanish sculptor and professor at the University of the Andes in Venezuela. The sculpture took 18 months to complete and cost nine million bolivars. It stands out because it is sculpted on a steel structure that forms the skeleton of the work, which is cast in concrete. It was inaugurated on 21 December 1983 by the then President of Venezuela, Luis Herrera Campins.
The sculpture is more than 46 metres tall and weighs 1,200 tonnes. Credit: Drones Valera
Five interior viewing platforms spread across the body
This iconic sculpture is located 11 kilometres southwest of the city of Trujillo and is 1,600 metres above sea level. Visitors can climb up the interior of the statue and look out. Its five viewpoints offer panoramic views that encompass part of the state of Trujillo, the Sierra Nevada de Mérida and the southern shore of Lake Maracaibo. The first viewpoint is 18 metres from the base, at the height of the sculpture’s knees; the second, in the left hand, is four metres higher; the third, in the right hand, is 26 metres high; the fourth, at the waist, is 28 metres above the ground; and the final viewpoint, which looks out through the eyes of the statue, is located at a height of 44 metres.
In her right hand, the Virgin holds a dove. "It symbolises the duty of the Presidency of the Republic of Venezuela to cry out for peace on earth," explains the Venezuelan radio station Otilca Radio. Over time, the Virgin of Peace has become a place of pilgrimage, where many tourists and devotees flock "to make vows, pray rosaries and seek spiritual peace," according to the Venezuelan television channel Venezolana de Televisión.
The sculpture has five viewpoints. Credit: Venezuelan Ministry of Economy and Finance
Every year on 24 January, Venezuelans commemorate the Day of Our Lady of Peace, the patron saint of the state of Trujillo since 1568. "To honour their patron saint, the people of Trujillo hold the traditional procession of the Virgin," explains the Venezuelan Ministry of Economy and Finance. On 24 January 2023, the newspaper El Nacional reported that more than 5,000 of Trujillo’s faithful and devotees would take part in the celebration of the 453rd anniversary of their patron saint.
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