From Frozen to Cinderella here are 11 real-life places that inspired fairy tales and our imagination.
The Royal Castle featured in Disney’s Brave Draws inspiration from Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, among others. This 13th century castle in the Highlands will take you on a journey through time and history.
The real castle has been Used in many films from Loch Ness, to James Bond: The World is Not Enough. It was a stronghold of Clan Mackenzie and their allies until it was destroyed by the English in the 18th century as punishment for their participation in the Jacobite rebellions. (If you’ve seen Outlander, you’ll know what I’m talking about…If you haven’t you should watch it for the scenery alone..so pretty!)..>>
Anyway, The castle was reconstructed in the 20th century. Brave takes credit for being a major boost for Scotland and many of the voices are those of Great Scottish actors such as Kelly Macdonald, Robbie Coltrane and Billy Connolly. VisitScotland Chairman, Mike Cantlay, aimed to generate £140 million for Scotland through marketing. A special screening of Brave was set up in front of Eilean Donan for the local community, before nationwide release. Brave wasn’t only a beautiful and entertaining but really put the beautiful Scottish Highlands on the traveler’s map, if fit wasn’t already.
It is said the real place that inspired Elsa’s ice castle is The Hotel de Glace in Quebec City. Director Chris Buck stayed at the Hotel de Glace to do research about five years before Frozen was released. Made entirely of snow and ice, It is the only ice hotel in North America. The hotel is rebuilt every year and is open from December through April. The hotel is made of 30,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice and the walls are up to 4 feet thick. In 2014, the hotel created a bedroom fit for sisters Anna and Elsa in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios. It had an ornate bed, armchair and bench all carved from ice.
9. Peter Pan
Many fairy tales take place in London. Instantly recognisable as Peter Pan flies past, Big Ben is not the only famous part of London to feature in the Disney film. Inspired by the Llewelyn Davies boys who were always playing in Kensington Gardens, the author of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie invented a fantasy world in the middle of a city. The statue of Peter Pan , is located in the exact spot where Peter flies out of the nursery and lands beside the Long Water. J.M Barrie commissioned the statue himself in 1906 using the little boys as a model wearing a special Peter Pan costume to help a sculptor recreate his vision and his imagination. In 1912, Sir George Frampton made the statue and later that same year it was erected in Kensington Gardens.Upon the death of their parents, Barrie even adopted the Davies boys with his wife Mary Ansell. Prior to his death he gave the rights to all Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. The royalties from the book continue to support the Hospital.
The thin, cobbled streets and precariously staggered houses that feature throughout Disney’s Pinocchio are A clear reflection of the village of Collodi in Italy. Carlo Lorenzini, author of The Adventures of Pinocchio, was born in Florence. His pen name, Carlo Collodi, was The name of the Tuscan village where his mother was born. He was inspired by the view from the highest point of the village. Now the entrance of Pinocchio Park sits at the base with A marble plaque engraved with the opening lines of the book welcoming guests . The park has sculptures, mosaics and puppet shows as well as a museum to tell the story of Lorenzini’s Pinocchio. Today the park might seem a bit old-fashioned, a reminder of simpler times when children could be entertained without terrifying rollercoasters! Lorenzini’s Pinocchio was much darker than the Disney adaptation, as with many of the original fairy tales, but this doesn’t make Collodi any less inspiring for any avid Disney fan!
Inspiration from Angel Falls in Venezuela led to the creation of Paradise Falls as the central theme throughout Up. One of the greatest natural wonders of the world, Angel Falls is the World’s highest uninterrupted waterfall with a height of 979 m. Director Pete Docter and his group of artists were guided by the director of The Living Edens documentary Adrian Warren to Canaima National Park in Venezuela. Here they created Sketches and took photos that would go on to be used by directors in creating Up’s Paradise Falls.
Interestingly, the mesas featured in Up are called tepui which means “house of the gods” in the local language. They are what’s left of huge sandstone blocks formed almost 2 billion years ago. Even if Paradise Falls doesn’t really exist, luckily the same sense of adventure and excitement await upon visiting Angel Falls.
Neuschwanstein Castle served as Inspiration for the Royal Castle in Sleeping Beauty at Disneyland and many other architectural marvels. Known in English as the New Swanstone Castle, this palace was Commissioned as a retreat for King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The shy king built the castle as a tribute to his favorite composer Richard Wagner and paid for it from his own fortune (and extreme borrowing). Known as “Mad King Ludwig” he Insisted on dining outside no matter what the weather and could not stop spending money on palaces, castles, music, and art. His advisors conspired to have him deposed on account of his madness, which wasn’t really true. Three days later Ludwig went for a walk on the banks of a lake in a palace garden and was never seen alive again. Today the castle is one of the most popular of all the palaces and castles in Europe. Every year, 1.4 million people visit the castle of the fairy tale king.
The Taj Mahal, Inspired by the beautiful Taj Mahal in Agra, India, the Sultan’s Palace featured in Aladdin shows obvious similarities to what is in fact a tomb for Emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The construction project was essentially Completed in 1643 at the cost of about $827 million by today’s standards. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal is described as a legend of eternal love of an Emperor for his Queen – very romantic! It is even Regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a symbol of India’s rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7-8 million visitors a year and while not really Arabic, you could say Disney used some artistic freedom while making the palace in Aladdin.
4. The Emperor’s New Groove
The Incan site nestled almost 8,000 feet in the Andes Mountains of Cuzco, Peru inspired Pacha’s village in The Emperor’s New Groove. Machu Picchu stands 2,430 m above sea-level in the middle of a tropical mountain forest where your imagination can run wild. Archaeologists believe that the site was Built around 1450 for the Incan Emperor Pachacuti. After the Spanish Conquest 100 years later, the site lay forgotten until 1911 when it was brought to international attention. In 1996 the Disney crew travelled to Machu Picchu to study Inca architecture as well as the dramatic, jungle landscape. This led to the creation of Kuzco’s kingdom, drawing obvious parallels to Machu Picchu itself. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and it was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Beautiful, mysterious and full of history this ancient Inca site is well worth the trip for dreamers and history enthusiasts!
3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Situated in Paris, the Notre Dame Cathedral is as beautiful as it is imposing, and famous worldwide for its Gothic architecture. The Cathedral itself took almost 200 years to complete! Originally written by Victor Hugo in 1831, also the author of Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was A sudden descent into darkness for Disney and featured topics like religious genocide. Not exactly child-friendly, but more in line with the original story. Hugo continued his career writing about social and political issues in play and novel form. It is believed that Hugo got inspiration for the story by watching a real hunchback working on the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral. Despite keeping the dark themes, Disney’s version of The characters are quite different to Hugo’s original and his take suggests a more tragic outcome, unlike Disney’s. Awe-inspiring and haunting, the Notre Dame Cathedral is a must-see!
Instantly recognizable as the origin of Corona in Tangled, Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy is an island commune with a population of around 44. The island was a strategic fort and In the 8th century it became a monastery. It is cut off from the mainland by tidal waters periodically, making it easily defensible. Today, however, it is a popular tourist attraction due to its intriguing appearance. Laurent Ben-Mimoun is a French artist who produced concept art for a variety of Hollywood films including Peter Pan, The Fellowship of the Ring, and The Day After Tomorrow. His love of animation and Disney’s positive environment for artists attracted him to Tangled, originally known as Rapunzel. He designed the castle and surroundings, Drawing significant inspiration from Mont Saint-Michel for the renaissance castle on an island. Mont Saint-Michel is also said to have inspired Prince Eric’s castle in The Little Mermaid.
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1. Cinderella’s Castle
This enchanting castle at Disney World in Florida was influenced by some of the most enchanting castles in all of Europe. The chief designer of Cinderella Castle, Herbert Dickens Ryman was a personal friend of Walt Disney who combined the most beautiful elements of storybook castles from France, Germany, Poland and Spain that you can actually see in real life! One of the most iconic castles in the world, Chateau de Chambord is the largest castle in the Loire Valley.
It’s architecture blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. If Cinderella were real, she definitely would have lived here! Constructed as a hunting lodge by King Francois I he used it to show off his wealth and power, most notably to his archenemy, Emperor Charles V. It is now open to the public and has inspired many architects around the world.
It is also said to be The main influence for the Beast’s castle in the Beauty and the Beast. Another castle in France, Chateau de Chaumont, was a 10th century French fortress castle that inspired the elevations of Cinderella’s castle, especially with its pointed turrets and rounded towers. The original fortress was burned down by King Louis XI as a punishment for Pierre d’Amboise
who had led an anti-Royal revolt against him. Work on the castle started again in the 15th century when his properties were reinstated, its a long story…As the years went by and construction progressed it became more of a renaissance chateau rather than a fortress. A hundred years later, The castle was bought by the notorious Catherine de Medici. Considered a Monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1840, the castle Now holds a Garden festival every year between April and October.
The Castles Are: (Slideshow)
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