Some places on our planet are just so odd (or beautiful) that you think they must be part of a film set… but these very real destinations prove that Mother Nature and mankind can throw out some real eye-popping sights every now and then.
We hope we never have to drive past this bizarre structure in Poland… it would be impossible to keep our eyes on the road! The wibbly-wobbly building, known as the ‘Crooked House’, is actually part of the local shopping mall.
It might be one of the most famous landmarks in Europe, but that doesn’t take away from just how odd this Belgian structure actually is. Deliberately futuristic in style, the Atomium was built in 1958 as part of Expo 58, Brussel’s World’s Fair.
Imagine running through the woods, pursued by some chainsaw-wielding maniac and thinking you’ve found sanctuary as you approach a church lurking through the trees… only to be confronted by this imposing black structure. Having visited this particular building (which has a dark history of its own), we can confirm it is as intimidating as it looks from the outside and will leave you looking for help elsewhere.
A naturally occurring phenomenon on the already strikingly beautiful island of Mauritius, this relatively small area in the south-west corner of the country is a tourist hotspot. Unique to Mauritius, the shifting sands rearrange themselves in this formation, even if you take a small handful and leave them to rest in your palm.
If Wes Anderson was to design a pier it would look exactly like this. The symmetry makes it incredibly architecturally pleasing on the eye, and the backdrop straight into the horizon – spectacular. If anything, this building, which sits on the Baltic Sea, looks even better at night. It has been redesigned and rebuilt since it was originally constructed in 1906, but remains a highlight of the region.
Likened to Fred and Ginger (or Emma and Ryan for all the cool kids), this jaunty establishment in Prague sits among more traditional buildings on the banks of the Vltava. We’re big fans of this, despite initial reservations from locals that it didn’t fit into its surroundings, and can’t think of a better example of a building that looks like it waltzed into real-life off the golden age of the Hollywood screen.
For the original Beauty and the Beast animation, which came out in 1991, production designers went out to find a French village that could be used as the template for the story. Inspiration came from Conques – its narrow medieval streets and imposing castle fit the bill perfectly. The recent live-action movie starring Emma Watson, which is still the most successful film of the year, took things a step further and built a set that took cues from Conques.
When picturing an oasis in the middle of the desert, this is exactly the sort of thing the mind conjures up. A fully functioning village, where locals claim the waters possess magical properties which can cure bronchitis and rheumatism. Not that there are that many locals to speak of, with the current population only numbering 100.
A breathtaking natural wonder in the heart of China, this forested region served as basis of the alien planet seen in Avatar (2009). The brutal columns and general greenery just don’t seem like they belong on Earth, and are about as close to visiting outer space as most of us will ever get.
Building upside down houses has become something of a cottage industry (pun intended), and a great example of this bizarre trend can be found in Terfens. The topsy-turvy creation by two Polish architects looks like it was plucked straight from the mind of Tim Burton and plonked in the middle of Austria. Just imagine it playing home to Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp in some wacky fantasy epic.
This miss-mash looks like a Rubik’s Cube gone wrong, but somehow remains pleasing on the eye. The art museum is dedicated to the work of prolific Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier and serves as a reminder of his unique work.
This might seem an odd one for our list, but given that the person writing it is the world’s foremost advocate for Die Hard (1988), it’s entirely understandable. The producers of the seminal action blockbuster were struggling for a location in which to film the movie, but eventually found the answer close to home by using the location of the movie studio behind the Bruce Willis epic. John McClane got to prance around barefoot till his little heart was content, and the rest is history.
Built during the Second World War, these armed turrets poke out of both the Thames and Mersey Rivers and served their country well in conflict. Once decommissioned in the 1950s, the structures have been deemed too unstable to inhabit, but even from afar they look mighty imposing.
If this religious monument in England looks familiar, it’s because its cloisters were used in many of the Harry Potter films, acting as a hallway, entrance to the Gryffindor common room and hiding spots from Snape. The foundation stone for the building you currently see was laid in 1089 AD, and from this date until 1499 AD the cathedral was reconstructed several times, yet it maintains an aura of ancient England throughout. Just keep an eye out for errant Dementors and giant spiders if you visit…
Last, but certainly not least, is this picturesque hotel which not only looks like it would be the ultimate location to up your Instagram game, but also another set fresh from the mind of Wes Anderson. Sadly, the hotel itself has been closed since last year, with no immediate plans to reopen. We’ll just have to watch The Grand Budapest Hotel on a loop and hope against hope that we will get to visit one day soon.
Want more movie wanderlust? These are the most beautiful cinemas around the world!