If you are searching for inspiration for your next trip, look no further: The winners of Wiki Loves Monuments 2023 were announced today.
Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest photography competition, Wiki Loves Monuments celebrates Earth’s rich cultural heritage – buildings, structures, and other assets that are culturally relevant due to their artistic, historic, political, technical, or architectural importance.
The contest serves as a platform for global collaboration in providing free access to mesmerizing photos of monuments from all over the planet. As part of the competition, photographers donate their images to Wikimedia Commons, the free repository that holds most of the images used on Wikipedia, to ensure that the world’s most visible cultural heritage is documented and held in trust for future generations.*
Since the first edition of Wiki Loves Monuments in 2010, more than 2.8 million photos were submitted by over 60,000 participants all around the world. This year, the competition elicited 150,000 image submissions uploaded by 3,700 people.
The 2023 winners come from 11 different countries, including Thailand, Poland, Malaysia, Brazil, Armenia, and others, and were selected from a group of national winners by an international jury of experts. You can see them all below.
For more information, go to wikilovesmonuments.org. Share your favorite winning images on social media using #WikiLovesMonuments.
Winner Kriengsak Jirasirirojanakorn was taking photos of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, when he noted the row of eight temple towers. “I saw their arrangement in perspective and made a leading line to a man riding a bicycle in front of the palace wall,” he describes. One jury member noted that the composition, mix of colors, and geometrical result needed “a patient and creative photographer”. Another member of the jury added: “The composition of the descending line of Giant Stupa’s leading to the temple spire right above the cyclist and the red striped sidewalk edge creates such a contrast between the historic and royal and the contemporary and casual, that it all works brilliantly.” Photo by Kriengsak Jirasirirojanakorn, CC BY-SA 4.0.
“The symmetry of the reflection is perfect,” a jury member observed in this photo of the Fetsund Booms, in Norway. Photographer Jarle Kvam was invited to show their photos and talk about their craft at a friend’s photo club – luckily, said friend lived near the Norwegian log driving museum, a monument Jarle was eager to visit for a long time. Even better: the weather contributed to their photoshoot. “The light, the fog, and the surroundings resulted in this beauty,” the photographer recalls. Photo by Jarle Kvam, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Like an illustration from a fairytale, mysterious and intriguing, this photo of a church in Jaszczurówka, a small village in Poland, captures “a lot of mood,” as noted by a jury member. “The image is magical, intimate, and warm, despite the cold, which allows for the snow to rest peacefully everywhere it falls,” another jury member added. Photo by Jakub T. Jankiewicz, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Capturing Lake Leśnia during golden hour is not an easy task. Author Aneta Pawska waited patiently until sunset to get this aerial view of the Czocha Castle, in Poland. “The low and burnishing sunlight of the slightly hazy day highlights the castle dominating the elbow of the meandering lake and gives the image a fitting medieval atmosphere,” a jury member asserted. Photo by Aneta Pawska, CC BY-SA 4.0.
In 2018, photographer Santanu Bose took a trip to Malaysia with their family; once there, they were attracted by the architectural beauty of the Putra Mosque, the main mosque in Putrajaya with rose-tinted granite. A jury member affirmed that this photo is “captured and cropped ideally to reveal a wide look without disorienting the viewer.” Photo by Iamsantanubose, CC BY-SA 4.0.
“To be able to take that photo, I had to travel by car for over 1,000 km and wait for the right moment, completely alone,” author Nicola Abbrescia recalls. The jury praised this incredible night shot of the Mole Antonelliana in Turin, Italy, with the Alps in the distant horizon: “Shown as such, the image offers the monument in its modern context, enriching our understanding of its prominence and cultural value.” Photo by Abbrey82, CC BY-SA 4.0.
On their way to an archeological dig, professional archaeologist Luka Škerjanec took this photo of the Saint John the Baptist Church, in the village of Suha, Slovenia. “The church itself represents an important historical monument and the lighting conditions on the day were exceptional,” Luka reflects. The jury echoed: “The composition of the photograph is impressive, the needle of the dome on the axis and the rest of the elements balancing everything make it a beautiful photo.” Photo by Luka Škerjanec, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Lightning struck over Palácio do Planalto, in Brasília, Brazil, while the country expressed solidarity to France following terrorist attacks in French cities in 2015. Author Dennis Asfour hoped to get a good shot of the Presidential Palace lit in the colors of the French flag, but got a little help from nature: “A beautiful bolt of lightning passed over… It is something I cannot describe in words.” “Nature is always the most powerful force,” a jury member added: “Stronger than human beings and all that they can create, and also stronger than art.” Photo by Dasfour2022, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Thirteenth-century monastic complex Saghmosavank, in Armenia, was under snow when Hayk Hovhannisyan took this hypnotic photo. “It was a beautiful winter day and I wanted to share the amazing monument of my amazing country,” the author explains. A jury member noticed that the monument stands out very well despite the white snow, indicating that “there is a nice softness in this photo.” Photo by Haykhove, CC BY-SA 4.0.
It is fortunate that photographer Jorulf Kyrkjeeide usually carries their photo gear in their car or they might have missed this early-morning purple sky near the Tyssedal Hydroelectric Power Station, in Norway. “I was alone, walking down to a spot at sea-level,” Jorulf recalls, “[I mounted] the camera on a tripod and gray filter to extend the shutter speed.” The result is this glorious shot, described by a jury member as follows: “The building is incredible, its reflection on the water is just magnificent and the purple gives the photo a very particular aspect.” Photo by Jorulf K, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Iurie Șveț lives near the wooden churches of Hirișeni and Girbova, in Moldova. One morning, they saw that the park around the churches was covered in fog, which looked beautiful during sunrise. “I quickly grabbed my camera, got to the park in 10 minutes, and took some pictures I really loved, just to seize that moment,” Iurie reminisces. The two wooden churches emerge from the soft pale mist “as if apparating from a place long ago and far away,” a jury member opined. Photo by IurieSvet, CC BY-SA 4.0.
The Jewish cemetery in Nowy Żmigród, Poland, is the perfect space for depicting mysterious and abandoned places, a favorite of photographer Daniel Żołopa. The jury praised the many layers of this photograph, including “the sadness of gravestones of people long gone and without any descendants or community to care for their cemetery” and “the importance of such physical traces of heritage in showing respect for history and humanity.” Once again, the force of nature is highlighted – and, according to a jury member, it is “stronger than death”. Photo by Daniel.zolopa, CC BY-SA 4.0.
“The framing is perfect,” a jury member said of this photo of the Malmö Castle, in Sweden, while praising the red and blue contrast that offers personality to the image. Photographer Kateryna Baiduzha was visiting Malmö for the first time when they saw the streaks of clouds over the castle and decided to take the shot. A jury member saw an iron fist in a kid glove in the clouds – how about you? Photo by Kateryna Baiduzha, CC BY-SA 4.0.
It was a cold April day when photographer Aneta Pawska arrived at the Książ Castle, in Poland, after trekking the Stołowe Mountains. The smoke coming out of the chimney reminded the author of The Hobbit, which resonated with a jury member: “The setting of autumn woods and fireplace smoke escaping the perfect chimney sets off the warm stonework and forms.” Their only regret was that there were no people in the photo to add to its narrative quality. Photo by Aneta Pawska, CC BY-SA 4.0.
The Monastery of Serra do Pilar is a unique sight in the Portuguese district of Porto. Located on a hill above the Douro River, the 17th century monastery was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1990s. Author Krzysztof Golik used to wake up at early hours to take pictures of the waterfront during sunrise. In an unusually warm February, they noticed the beautiful color palette – now eternalized in this photo. Photo by Krzysztof Golik, CC BY-SA 4.0.
In addition to the fifteen photos above, another ten were selected as honorable mentions. See them below:
Congratulations to all the winners, and our thanks go out to everyone who participated!
If you’d like to see more photographs like these, see the 2022 winners from Wiki Loves Earth, a similar photo contest that aims to document the world’s natural heritage. Be sure to check out last year’s winners of Wiki Loves Monuments, too!
By Lucas Pasqual, Communications Specialist at the Wikimedia Foundation
*Note: Please make sure to follow each image’s copyright tag. All of the images above, for instance, are available under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 license, meaning that you are free to share them for any reason so long as you give credit to the photographer and release any derivative images under the same copyright license.
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