Icons of travel ruined by scaffolding

What does Angkor Wat, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Singapore’s Merlion have in common – besides the fact that they’re all man-made tourist attractions, must-see sights and veritable icons of travel?

I’ll give you a hint: it starts with “s” and ends in “caffolding”. Give up? They’re all famous monuments that were ruined for me by unsightly scaffolding.

Think I’m exaggerating? You’re right, I am – but certainly none of these iconic structures were as photogenic as they should have been.

Just take a look at this photograph of me mugging for the camera in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy…

I hold up the Leaning Tower of PisaIt seems that just as the world’s most treasured artefacts and works or art need restoration and maintenance every once in a while, so too does its most treasured and iconic buildings, monuments and wonders.

It’s fair enough, I suppose, but it’s still a bit of a shame when Angkor Wat in Cambodia – a Khmer temple dating back to the early 12th Century and still one of mankind’s most impressive structures – has scaffolding on the front, a total anachronism.

The scaffolding on Angkor Wat is a total anachronismSingapore’s Merlion, however, really takes the cake. Half lion, half mermaid, all awesome; I saw the city-state’s mascot in February, at the very start of my backpacking trip through South East Asia. When I returned in June, the famous Merlion of Merlion Park was out of commission.

Just take a look for yourself…

Singapore's iconic emblem, the merlion
Before: proud, free, iconic.
The Merlion is confined in a box in Singapore
After: caged, domesticated, disappointing.

That baby was boxed-up and off limits to the public for more than two months! No wonder all the tourists down in Merlion Park were looking dazed and confused as they posed for photos next to a large wooden box.

Singapore's merlion is a work in progressBut at least it was there – not like the time I travelled to Copenhagen, Denmark, and walked for hours searching for the city’s famed little mermaid statue only to find the
rock it usually sits on, the mermaid long gone on holiday to Shanghai.

And don’t even get me started about Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia. When I went to see this famous Spanish basilica it had scaffolding and cranes all over it. Talk about ruining my photograph – it looked as though it wasn’t even finished…

Cranes tower above the La Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, SpainHave you ever travelled to see a monument, famous building or iconic statue only for it to be closed, covered in scaff or under construction?

About Simon Petersen 506 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.


  1. I thought it was funny when I was in Italy and they had a couple strategies; firstly, they could paint over a giant tarp so it still looked like the monument from far away, blocking the scaffolding altogether. On the other hand, they could just slap a giant Vodafone banner along the side. It was kinda funny.

  2. Good news!
    The Sagrada Familia has now a completion date: come back in 2026 and there will be no scaffolding left!
    Plus since you’ll be there, you might want to celebrate The 100 anniversary of Gaudi’s death: I’m sure there’ll be plenty of events going on that year. Mark it up on your agenda!

    • Haha, about time! I’m really glad you read this post in the spirit it was intended. I’d love to go back – although 2026 might be too long to wait!

    • Thanks! I can laugh about them all now but only the merlion was funny at the time – and that was only because I’d already seen it!

  3. I actually went to the World Expo in Shanghai and saw the famous mermaid, and I remember feeling pretty bad for the disappointed tourists of Copenhagen!

  4. Hahaha. Man, that’s just classic travel! I remember growing up the Statue of Liberty was covered in scaffolding for what seemed like my entire childhood. Great pics and a great idea for a post.

    • Cheers, Greg! Fortunately for me, the Statue of Liberty was one of the famous monuments I visited that was NOT covered in scaffolding!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.