The "Heart of Jesus" is a 72-foot-tall stainless steel statue of Jesus Christ designed by the sculptor Walter Zawaczky. You can find it on the top of Gordon Hill in Harghita County, Transylvania, where it's become something of a controversy since its construction in 2012, possibly because Jesus sort of looks like Darth Vader.
According to the anti-statue crowd, the material is foreign to the local landscape. Its supporters say it's a great tourist attraction that will in time become as important a landmark as Rio de Janeiro's giant Jesus statue.
So a couple of weeks ago, while all my friends were at the beach, I went to Harghita county and climbed onto Jesus's head through the central spiral staircase inside Jesus's body. The view was awesome I couldn't stand there too long because the noise produced by the wind and the metal made my head feel like it was about to explode. So I climbed down and got to talking to some of the other tourists there.
VICE: Have you ever come to visit this statue before?
No, this the first time. I’m not a Catholic, but Jesus is the same for all of us. I walked here from the city, it’s more than 15 kilometers [nine miles] away.
Is this Jesus the work of an artist?
There’s probably an artist involved, but the guy who funded it is the guy who matters. He is the owner of the local Gordon milk factory. He wanted to leave something behind but died shortly after this was built, the poor sod.
Did he become popular around here?
Of course, I mean he built a monument. It’s like in sports: If you’re an Olympic champion, you’re popular. If they put some asphalt on the road, more people would come. But the roads are like that everywhere Romania. We have to respect our ancestors and stay in this county—not emigrate to England. The Communists ruined everything. Hitler was the biggest dick of all. Crazy sod that one.
Do you think Hitler would have liked this statue?
I don’t know. He wanted to occupy everything, even Russia! Whoever makes war is a crazy prick. The same goes for the stuff going on in Ukraine.
What about Putin?
He’s not crazy. He could bring order if he wanted to, but it doesn't look like he does. Somebody has to calm those Ukrainians down, but he should do it at the negotiations table, not with a rifle.
VICE: Have you ever visited this place before?
Yes, even before the statue was erected. I have been coming here since it was a wee stump. I would come here with cars, women, and beer. It was our stomping ground.
Did this statue ruin things for you then?
Not at all. There’s plenty of room for everybody here. Jesus too.
VICE: Why was this statue built exactly?
The owner of the Gordon factory who financed the project and the local priest thought it would be something nice to do for the people of Harghita—like a memory people could revisit again and again. They will also build a chapel here.
Shouldn’t they fix the road leading to the statue first?
Sure, it should be paved, but it costs too much. If they have any cash left after they build the chapel, they’ll probably pave this road. Maybe if more people knew about the statue, that cost wouldn't be a problem.
What's it like inside the statue?
It’s interesting. I climbed up in the head, from where you could see all the land surrounding us. It’s not every day you get to climb so high up in a giant head.
VICE: Do you think the statue is a work of art?
Yes. I think it’s unique. There is a stone one in Rio, but this one has different hands too.
Why is the statue here?
About five or six years ago, there were horrible floods and the area was ravaged. The statue is a blessing; it's here to protect our county.
Does lightning ever hit the statue?
The boss in the sky would never hit Himself.
VICE: What do you think of this statue?
It's a symbol of the true faith. It's perfect; it is a work of art. Smart boy, the one who built it. Of course he was criticized by a bunch of pigs.
Who are the pigs?
The ones who didn’t want the statue. There were many. For some, it would have been better if we built a statue of Stalin, Ceaușescu, Clinton or any other swine ruling the material world. They made a statue of Jesus, who is responsible for our souls. Jesus was, is, and will be—unlike these other pigs who only last for 20 or 30 years. End of subject.
What happened to the guy who built it?
The poor guy died because of all the criticism. His nerves got the best of him. But that’s life—at least he left something behind him. It’s here to stay and will last longer than anybody’s mountains of gold.
VICE: Does the area have more visitors ever since they built the statue?
There are some people, but nobody really knows about it because it isn’t advertised anywhere. I own a B&B nearby and every day I have to drive our guests over here because the road is pretty steep.
Do any tourists come especially for the statue?
No, but I try to advertise it. I think it’s good for us if, when they return home, they tell everyone that they came to my B&B and I took them to see the statue.
I was at the meeting when the project was presented and the guy who paid for it said he wanted to make something that would last for at least 200 years. The Eiffel Tower held out well and so did the other Jesus in Rio. This will also hold. I believe people will start coming here and it's not like we have anything else to show them.
See more of Dragoş’s photos here.