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Monument to Yuri Gagarin in Barskoon, Kyrgyzstan

Yuri Gagarin's big boulder head.

On the south shores of lake Issyk-Kul in Barskoon, in the the northeastern corner of Kyrgyzstanis a giant face carved directly into a massive rock. Specifically, it is the giant head of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. 

While the giant face of the first man to journey into outer space, complete with Cosmonaut helmet, is carved directly from solid rock, the story behind its creation is less certain. It seems that Yuri visited the area just shortly after his historic spaceflight. He may have even stood on this very rock. At which point, everyone was so psyched about the whole first man in space thing,  the boulder was promptly carved into his likeness. Later, in a meta tribute to the first monument, a second more standard bust was erected.

A local rumor has an more whimsical version of the rock's origin. The rumor says that this was in fact where Yuri touched down, a fact which was covered up by the USSR because it was nowhere near the intended landing spot. While almost certainly untrue (Yuri did eject from his capsule landing near the village of Smelovka, in the Ternovsky District) it makes for a wonderful origin story. 


via Atlas Obscura - Latest Articles and Places