Five places I wish weren’t shopped

The world is full of interesting, beautiful, and unique locations, but we still insist on creating our own. ‘Course, we can look at this as an homage to nature’s wonders and a desire to see man-made architecture integrated into the natural world. Either way, it would be pretty cool if these places actually existed and we could see them in real life instead of just in our over-active imaginations. Luckily, there are many very talented digital artists out there that have rendered our dreams into realistic-looking pictures. Many of them are so well-done that they often dupe those of us not keen enough to spot the telltale signs of a shopped image (or maybe we just want to believe so badly that we allow ourselves to be convinced. Yeah, that must be it).

1) Waterfall Castle in Poland

I actually found this image on my Pinterest board, so clearly I thought it was real. Until I tried to figure out exactly where in Poland it was, and discovered that it (more than likely) does not actually exist. Unfortunately, the origin of the image is also unclear, so I’m unable to credit the artist here. I had repinned it from Totally Frickin Awesome. This person was also trying to get to the bottom of the mystery and apparently came up short.

Waterfall Castle in Poland

2) Castle Island in Ireland

This is the image that sparked the idea for this post. Because let’s be real, who wouldn’t want to stay in a friggin castle on a friggin rock in friggin Ireland?? Yeah, that’s what I thought. And this one, too, I found floating around one of my Pinterest boards. I’d pinned it from Visualize Us who claimed it was located in Dublin. It turns out there is actually a place in Ireland called Castleisland, but it certainly doesn’t look like or include anything like this picture. Lucy Anders claims, “it’s actually James Bond Island Khao Phing Kan in Thailand, with a piece of Lichtenstein Castle (Germany) photoshopped on.” Bummer, man.

Castle Island Ireland


3) St Etienne Abandoned Church

I love this image because I was a huge Final Fantasy nerd growing up, and this just reminds me of the abandoned church in FF VII. (There’s a beautiful rendering of it in Advent Children). Yeah. Apparently the image below is a compilation of the real Cathédrale Saint-Etienne de Bourges and a random river, according to this person who seems really peeved by the whole thing. If you look closely, you can see that the artist put a ghost girl on a the bridge, which also looks to have grown in the “abandoned” church. There is, however, another Église Saint Etienne, this one in Caen, that is partially ruined.

St. Etienne Abandoned Church

4) CGI Castle on a hillside

Funny thing about this list is that it is all buildings shopped into (or with) drastic natural landscapes. That’s pretty cool, right? Doesn’t this castle below just look so cozy and inviting in the snow? I’d bet on there being plenty of roaring fires to enjoy and giant chicken legs to consume inside a place like this. Too bad it’s straight-up CGI. Found the image on Lucy Anders’s Pinterest Board, Imaginary Places (I think all the places on this list are on her board, actually). The only clue as to its origin is this website, where you can download it as a computer background.

CGI Castle on a hill

5) Castle on a Waterfall

And, appropriately, another castle. This one is on a waterfall. A serious waterfall. I mean, is that not just seriously cool? It’s from this guy, Frederic St-Arnaud. He has a lot of sweet digitally manipulated artworks, but I think this one is my fave. Only problem with the concept is that it wouldn’t be terribly strategic…All your enemies would have to do is dynamite the bridges and then you’re toast. Would make a neat hotel, though. I’d stay there.

Frederic St-Arnaud Waterfall Castle
Click here for more fun photo manipulation.

And now, things that are real…somehow

Sometimes fantasies become a reality. These five places had to have been dreamed up by somebody before they  became a reality. And, chances are, they didn’t have photoshop to show their naysayers how cool it would be. I mean, really. And look at them now.

1) Mirrorcube in Sweden

Now you see it, now you don’t. Constructed in 2010, the Mirrorcube is only one of several treetop and nature-y guestroom options at “Treehotel” in Sweden. You and a friend can stay here for 4700 Swedish Krona (approx USD 654.00) per night. Yow!

Mirrorcube Treehouse Hotel

2) Chittorgarh Fort in India

If you’re looking for a fortress built into a hillside and surrounded by natural growth, look no further than Chittorgarh Fort, the largest fort in India, and the grandest in the state of Rajasthan. Built in the 7th century, the fort was abandoned in the 16th century after being sacked three times in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Chittorgarh Fort in India

3) Magic Mountain Hotel in Chile

Yes, there is actually a place called Magic Mountain. And it’s in Chile and looks kind of like a hobbit house combined with a Christmas tree. Built in the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, the design was intended to mimic a mountain and utilized all indigenous materials. You can stay here for USD 250-400 per night.

Magic Mountain Hotel in Chile

4) Jade Screen Hotel in China

Feel like climbing 60,000 steps…with your suitcase? Luckily, there’s also a cable-car that will get you to the top, so you can wave and laugh at your friends who wanted to do it “the right way”. In case you do decide on the hike, there’s a sauna and massage center at the hotel so you can sooth those new aches and pains. Guestrooms start at USD 123/night.
huangshan jade screen peak

5) The Atomium in Belgium

That, my friends, is a building, not a piece of art. Although, it is that, too. Built for Expo ’58 (The World Fair in Brussels in 1958), the Atomium had not been intended to last out the year (much like the Eiffel Tower for the 1889 World Fair), but was so well-loved that the city decided to keep it as a landmark. It now functions as a museum and event space for hire.

Atomium Hotel in Brussels

What other extraordinary places (shopped or not) can you think of? Leave a note in the comments below!