Disney Castles Around the World (what inspired them in real life!)
Part of the magic of watching your beloved Disney movies is getting lost in imaginary lands where everything – and surely, anything – is possible. While you might not be able to conjure up a fairy godmother or a genie, it is actually possible to visit the special places that inspired the locations of many iconic films. And if you have a fairytale lover under your roof, there’s no better to trip to plan than one that takes him or her around all of the beautiful castles in the world where the masters behind Disney films discovered their fodder. From Germany and Switzerland to France and beyond, here’s an castle-hopping bucket list to consider:
The Royal Palace in Sleeping Beauty is Neuschwanstein Castle
The infamous place where Princess Aurora nodded off for several years, awaiting the arrival of a lip-locking prince who would wake her from her peaceful slumber? It’s located in Bavaria, Germany, along the fairytale road of this romantic country. Called Neuschwanstein Castle (try and say that out loud, we dare you), it was originally built in 1892 by Ludwig II of Bavaria. Even though in the movie, it didn’t have the happiest or brightest of intentions, for this family, it was destined to be a personal retreat and tribute to his beloved composer, Richard Wagner. Legend has it that many call Ludwig the ‘Swan King’ as he loved the arts and architecture, which is definitely demonstrated by this masterpiece.
The Kingdom of Corona in Tangled is Mont Saint-Michel
If you venture beyond Paris and find your way to Normandy, make sure to add Mont Saint-Michel to your sightseeing list, since this island commune was the inspiration for the Kingdom of Corona in Tangled. Originally intended to be a safe haven difficult to attack – since it’s not connected to the mainland of France – today, it serves as a jaw-dropping background for plenty of Instagram shots.
The Sultan’s Palace in Aladdin is the Taj Mahal
You can show your kiddos the world, shining, shimmering, splendid, but tell us, do you know where the colorful palace in Aladdin is on a map? Study the screen for a hot second and you’ll easily recognize the renowned Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Though it definitely looks like a place for a royal family, in reality, the Taj Mahal is an over-the-top, extravagant tomb built by Emperor Shah Jahan. He had many wives, but this particular burial place was constructed in 1632 for his favorite one, Mumtaz Mahal.
The Emperor’s home in Mulan is the Forbidden City
As one of the all time girl-power movies Disney has ever produced, the many scenes at the Emperor’s home in Mulan tie the movie together. You probably can guess that since Mulan takes place in China, the idea for this royal homestead comes from the country, too. You’d be right: it’s created after the Forbidden City in Beijing that’s now open to travelers. For centuries though, it was – you guessed it! – illegal to view this sight, since it was the residence of the emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and he had the final word on when you came in and when you left.
The cathedral in the Hunchback of Notre Dame is, well, Notre Dame
Okay, this one might have been a no-brainer – but watch the film again to see the striking similarities. As one of the most sought after sights in Paris, France, it showcases impressive Gothic architecture and believe it or not, took more than 200 years to complete. In the film, you can see the touches of this design, tying together the gut-wrenching scenes.
The chapel in Frozen is St. Olaf’s Church
Wonder where Olaf got his name? Perhaps it was from the building that inspired the chapel in the super-popular Frozen movie. Located in Balestrand, Norway, St. Olaf’s Church was created by an Englishwoman Margaret Green who fell in love with a man named Knut Kvikne. This was their secret hideaway for rendezvous, but also a place for her to practice her then outlaws Christian faith.
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