What would you do if you were told that if you touch a certain sculpture and make a wish, it would come true? You would touch the lucky sculptures, right, whether you believe in superstition or not? After all, it would cost you nothing, and—who knows—it could be true!
In my 70-day solo backpacking trip in Europe last year, I came across several of these statues. In some instances, nobody told me they were considered lucky sculptures; I knew anyway just by observing what the other people were doing.
Here are just a few of them I encountered in Europe.
Il Porcellino (Florence, Italy)
Florence is an indescribably beautiful city that’s full of wonderful works of art. One of the popular ones is not inside the museum, though. It’s right outside near the Mercato Nuovo. Made by Baroque master Pietro Tacca in the 1600s, it’s called Il Porcellino (“the piglet”), a bronze sculpture of a boar sitting on its haunches.
To ensure your return to Firenze, rub his snout or throw a coin at his feet (or both)!
Everard ‘t Serclaes (Brussels, Belgium)
I arrived in Belgium when it was still winter, and when my friend Hazel and I passed by this sculpture on our way to see Mannekin Pis, she told me specifically to touch it. She said that it would bring me luck and make my wish come true.
I was supposed to touch the dog, too (upper right) but I was so cold that I couldn’t wait to move on!
Casa di Giulietta (Verona, Italy)
I spent a day in Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. One of the major attractions there is Juliet’s House, specifically the balcony and in the courtyard, the statue of Juliet.
It was already spring when I arrived, so there were hordes of tourists inside the courtyard. I saw them posing one by one with Juliet, making sure to (fondle) touch her breast first. I followed suit; who wouldn’t want good luck when it comes to love?
St. John of Nepomuk (Prague, Czech Republic)
One of the most popular attractions in Prague is the Charles Bridge, which is always full of people no matter the season. There are a lot of statues of saints on the bridge itself, and one of the most famous is the one of St. John of Nepomuk, the priest in the court of King Wenceslas IV.
According to history, St. John was thrown into the Vltava River from the bridge because he invited a fellow priest to Prague who turned out to be an enemy of the King. The two plaques at the base of his statue tell his story, and you will have good luck if you touch both of them.
A few meters from the statue is a railing marking the exact spot where St. John was thrown off the bridge. It depicts him falling into the river, the five stars around his head appearing when he touched the water. Touch the stars as well as the cross on the bridge and your wish will come true!
Schöner Brunnen Fountain (Nürnberg, Germany)
In the beautiful marketplace of Nürnberg stands a 19-meter sculpture called the Schöner Brunnen (literally, “beautiful fountain”) surrounded by metal grilles. When my friends Saskia and Daniel took me there, we had to wait awhile to let the other tourists complete their business at the railings.
I soon saw what they were doing; attached to the upper part of the railings is a small, golden ring. Legend has it that if you turn the rings three times, your wish would come true. Vertically challenged as I am, I had to climb up the railing and hang by one hand while making sure that I turned the ring properly!
Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten (Bremen, Germany)
Who hasn’t heard of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The Musicians of Bremen (“Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten” in German)? I was tickled pink when I realized that the place I’d only heard of as a kid was real after all. The same hour that I arrived in Bremen, I immediately set off to find the Gerhard Marcks sculpture depicting the donkey, dog, cat, and rooster in the story.
It is said that touching the statue (specifically the horse’s hooves and mouth) will bring good luck. Note how shiny they are compared to the rest of the sculpture? A lot of people must have been here!
I’m sure there are hundreds of other such sculptures scattered in Europe and all over the world. I have touched and rubbed the ones I have written about, but my wish is still yet to come true. Maybe someday, who knows?
Where else have you encountered sculptures like this? Do share in the comments!