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My Escapes Finland Helsinki Cold Helsinki Business Trip Buddy Bears Open-air Statue Exhibition

Buddy Bears Open-air Statue Exhibition

March 9, 2014
July 19, 2014

As I walked up to the Helsinki cathedral, I came across a large number of colourful bear statues (made of fiberglass).
Stylish larger than human-size teddy bears. Each one is unique, represents a different country from the World.

These were called the "Buddy Bears", which was a similar initiative to the "CowParade".
It was a surprising sight in an awful weather. It cheered me up, warmed me up, even!

First glimpse of the bears

My first glimpse of the "Buddy Bears"

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While I was getting soaked by a nasty rain and perforated by chilly Finnish winds, I made sure I checked all bears one-by-one. It was worth the sacrifice...

As I said - each bear was representing an individual country.

Sudan bear

The Sudan Buddy Bear

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This one on the left represents Sudan.

The bears are made of fibreglass and they were originally developed in Berlin, Germany.

Their message is about peace, international understanding and tolerance among nations, cultures, religions around the World.

Oddly, since my visit - Sudan had split into two separate countries: Sudan and South Sudan. All this happened after a horrific war in which tragically almost 900,000 people perished.

These are beautiful and I love the idea of promoting tolerance and peace.

But I think these statues bear limitations.

They represent sovereign recognized countries. And countries are not the same as nations, cultures, religions...

Also: physical representations in the form of a bear would be offensive to Muslims.

So, the display of these bear-representing statues might be considered a blasphemy in very strict Muslim countries.

Anyway... speaking of the statues - some of the statues were really good, even if by design they weren't really representative to the respective country.

It seems some put more accent on art than on giving shape to national characteristics.

The Buddy Bears were all carefully-crafted. I suppose they made a bunch of "blank" fibreglass bears, which were later decorated.

Buddy bears in front of the Cathedral

I could watch them each one-by-one, examine them for long minutes

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There was a solitary "real bear" shape (not the teddy-bear type on two feet) statue with an Einstein quote on its side. It's a wise statement:

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding"

Einstein bear

Hey look, this one looks like a real bear!

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Einstein bear quote

The quote on the bear...

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At the end, I could barely escape the flood of rain that was coming from "up there"...

Ditching cracked streets and pools of rainwater I finally managed to jump on a tram without a ticket and it brought me pretty close to the Radisson hotel.

There's even and official site of the Buddy Bears.

Here below you'll find a few more photos of the bears that I saw on that rainy day in Helsinki. I must have spent around 2 hours there admiring them (sometimes running for cover whenever the rain was falling more intensely).

One of the bears was holding a lizard up. That's the Paraguay Bear!

Various Buddy Bears

Quite diverse...

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Buddy Bear artist's plaque

Each bear had a plaque with its own artist

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Buddy Bear plaque

US is iconic, typical. UK is Muslim.

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USA, UK and other bears

So much blue colour here...

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Portugal, Peru, Paraguay

Portugal, Peru, Paraguay...

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Beautiful Buddy Bears

I really loved the Lithuanian bear's colour combination (taken from the flag) - the one on the right side

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Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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