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Top 5: Memorials

From US presidents to those lost in the wars of the 20th century, these memorials offer a dramatic insight into historical events

Top 5: Memorials
Menin Gate, Belgium (Image: Alamy)

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01 Menin Gate, Belgium
This year, the world will mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I with events spanning 2014. Head to this memorial in the Belgian town of Ypres, bearing the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are unknown. As the clock strikes 8pm every evening, the road running beneath it is closed and the ‘Last Post’ is played to commemorate those who fought, and died, for their country.

02 9/11 Memorial, USA
Honouring the men, women and children who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of 2001 and 1993, this moving tribute — on the former site of the World Trade Center — was designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, and includes the names of every person who died in the attacks, inscribed into bronze panels edging the memorial’s pools. 911memorial.org

03 Mount Rushmore, USA
The colossal sight of four 60ft-high US presidential faces — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln — is easily a contender for the world’s greatest mountain sculpture. Carved from white rock with a backdrop of South Dakota’s Black Hills, the mammoth project — opened in 1941 — took 14 years and 400 workers under the direction of sculptor Gutzon Borglum. nps.gov/moru

04 Holocaust Memorial, Germany
New York-based architect Peter Eisenmann erected 2,711 stelae — concrete pillars — of differing heights, close to the Brandenburg Gate, to remind us of those lost during the Holocaust. At a cost of €25m (£21m), the grid-like structure of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe can be approached from all four sides, and sits above a comprehensive information centre. stiftung-denkmal.de

05 Choeung Ek memorial, Cambodia
Marking the site where thousands of Cambodians were executed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, Choeung Ek — one of the infamous Killing Fields — retains the scars of the horrific genocide orchestrated by the regime, from the mass graves to the Buddhist stupa, erected in 1988 and filled with more than 5,000 human skulls. Guides can be booked before entry, providing chilling accounts and stories of survival.