Header images courtesy of @ultrakwang and Kapi Ng (via Shutterstock)
While museums are the natural places to soak up art and history, there are plenty of opportunities to get a dose of culture beyond the confines of white-walled galleries. Keep your eyes peeled as you take a stroll around the city and you will find a diverse collection of carved masterpieces depicting influential individuals, religious figures, and events that have shaped Hong Kong, each telling its own story. From religious deities to iconic action movie stars, read on to discover some of the must-see statues in Hong Kong.
Tributes to Hong Kong’s most celebrated stars are ubiquitous at the Avenue of Stars, but Bruce Lee’s extraordinary legacy has earned him more than just a plaque or handprint—the legendary martial artist and movie star is commemorated by a 2.5-metre bronze statue situated along the famous waterside promenade. Sculpted by the dexterous hands of contemporary Chinese artist Cao Chong-en, the iconic statue has become a major tourist fixture since its unveiling in 2005, attracting perineal crowds of visitors to imitate its “ready to strike” pose, as seen in Lee’s hit 1972 movie Fist of Fury.
Previously, the statue was perched on top of a rock and surrounded by metal barriers to prevent visitors from getting too close, but since the renovation and re-opening of the Avenue of Stars in 2019, both features have been removed, replaced by a running-water installation at the base of the statue to allow visitors to snap unobstructed photos of the icon with the stunning skyline of the Victoria Harbour as its backdrop.
Avenue of Stars, 3 Hoi Bun Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2918 1722
No visit to Lantau Island is complete without climbing the 268 steps up to Tian Tan Buddha (also known as the Big Buddha), the world’s second-largest outdoor bronze statue of the seated Buddha Shakyamuni. Looming over the scenic hills of Ngong Ping, the imposing structure grazes the sky at a whopping height of 34 metres tall, powerfully conveying its intended symbolism of harmony between man, nature, and faith.
Thanks to its elevated placement and staggering size, Tian Tan Buddha can be seen from many places across Lantau Island and beyond (it’s allegedly visible from as far as Macau on a clear day!), but get up close and you’ll truly be able to admire the intricate craftsmanship went into the statue‘s 12-year-long construction. From the drapery and folds of the Buddha’s robe to the six smaller bronze statues encircling the main statue, every detail is meticulously etched to a standard befitting its stately purpose.
Po Lin Monastery, Ngong Ping Road, Lantau Island | (+852) 2985 5248
Note: Parts of the Tian Tan Buddha and its surrounding area may be under scaffolding due to renovation works. Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha may be temporarily closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The five-metre Sun Yat-sen Statue in the centre of the eponymous memorial park is one of many commemorative dedications to the world-renowned revolutionary that can be found across Hong Kong, the city where he completed much of his education and hatched many groundbreaking ideologies. A regular haunt among families and picnic-goers, the statue is set against the Victoria Harbour surrounded by sprawling greenery, projecting an ambience of tranquillity and pleasant relaxation that‘s perfect for lazing away a weekend afternoon whilst filling up on some history.
Depicting Dr Sun Yat-sen dressed in unmistakably Western attire, with a bowler hat in one hand and an overcoat in the other, the statue calls attention to the importance of Western influences in shaping Sun‘s revolutionary philosophies. Visitors can read up on his major life achievements on the information board beneath the tall stone pedestal, and if that’s not enough, head on over afterwards to the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum just a kilometre away near the Mid-Levels Escalator to learn all about the historical Chinese figure!
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park, 16 Eastern Street North, Sai Ying Pun | (+852) 2540 9704
Okay, we’re cheating a little (or a lot) here. This hidden cultural gem in Sha Tin encompasses more than just one statue, more than a hundred, even; there are thousands upon thousands of statues at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery—but doesn't that just make the pilgrimage all the more worthwhile, even if it's a little out of the way?
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery gets its name from the 12,000-odd miniature Buddhas lining the walls of the main temple, but to visitors’ delight, the pathway leading to the main square of the monastery is equally breathtaking with its statue-flanked steps.
As you make the steep, 15-minute trek, you are greeted by hundreds of life-sized golden Arhat statues, each striking a unique quirky pose, providing ample entertainment and distraction to power you through the climb. At the top, you’ll find plenty more pavilions, temples, and a nine-story pagoda that await your discovery!
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, 221 Pai Tau Village, Sha Tin | (+852) 2691 1067
Note: Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery may be temporarily closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Even after more than two decades since British rule ended, traces of Hong Kong’s colonial past can still be found in the city’s street names, architectural styles, and public works of art. Just take a few steps into Victoria Park from the Causeway Road entrance and to your right will be a striking effigy of the enthroned Queen Victoria, elaborately dressed in regal robes and a crown.
Exquisitely carved by Italian sculptor Mario Raggi and having been restored multiple times in the past, the statue reveals little of its weathered long and chequered history. Originally put up in 1896 in Statue Square to celebrate Queen Victoria’s seventy-seventh birthday, the statue was actually displaced from Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation and ready to be melted down, along with the other statues in the square. Yet, by a stroke of luck, the statue escaped its grim fate and was shipped back to the city after the war, eventually settling into its current home in Victoria Park in 1952.
Victoria Park, 1 Hing Fat Street, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2890 5824
Once festooned with statues of British royalty and colonial administrators, Statue Square now stands one single bronze statue of Sir Thomas Jackson, the late chief manager of HSBC who has been dubbed as the bank’s “great architect.” Given the square’s location fronting the HSBC Main Building, there couldn’t be a more suitable candidate to claim the spot. The larger-than-life statue of the banker self-assuredly grasping his overcoat is another masterpiece of Mario Raggi, boasting the same realistic drapery and fine facial details that are characteristic of the Italian sculptor’s works.
Statue Square, Des Voeux Road Central, Central
Nestled against the mountain ranges of Pat Sin Leng, Tsz Shan Monastery is home to many beautiful sights—including landscaped gardens, Tang dynasty-style compounds, serene courtyards for prayer and meditation—but the scenic Buddhist sanctuary’s key claim to fame has to be the towering 76-metre Guanyin statue located in its eastern wing.
Dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of mercy, the pristine white structure stands as the tallest statue in Hong Kong, and it’s truly a majestic sight to behold. Exuding a demeanour of grace and benevolence, Guanyin leans slightly forward as she oversees before her. In her right hand she holds up a pearl of wisdom while in her left she pours divine healing water from a vase; the two gestures combined symbolise the goddess protecting and guiding the world with her compassion and wisdom.
Tsz Shan Monastery, 88 Universal Gate Road, Tai Po | (+852) 2123 8666
Note: Tsz Shan Monastery may be temporarily closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.