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Imperia, Konstanz

4.2
Imperia is a statue at the entrance of the harbour of Konstanz, Germany, commemorating the Council of Constance that took place there between 1414 and 1418. The concrete statue is 9 metres (30 ft) high, weighs 18 tonnes (18 long tons; 20 short tons), and stands on a pedestal that rotates around its axis once every four minutes. It was created by Peter Lenk and clandestinely erected in 1993. The erection of the statue caused controversy, but it was on the private property of a rail company that did not object to its presence.

Imperia shows a woman holding two men on her hands. The two men represent Pope Martin V and Emperor Sigismund. Martin V was elected during the Council while Sigismund was the king who called the council. Both are naked except for the crown and papal tiara, respectively, that they wear as symbols of their power.

The statue refers to a short story by Balzac, "La Belle Impéria". The story is a harsh satire of the Catholic clergy's morals, where Imperia seduces cardinals and princes at the Council of Constance and has power over them all. The historical Imperia that served as the source material of Balzac's story was a well-educated Italian courtesan who died in 1512, nearly 100 years after the council, and never visited Konstanz.
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  • Imperia holds the king in one hand and the pope in the other. So I am told. But to me the pope looks like the devil. A coincidence? I whish there was more information about the old history behind...  more »
  • Although the statue is not huge, it commands the harbor with its turning and gives the feel of a modern colossal of Konstanz. Truly fascinating.  more »

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