Writers and directors of novels and films have a unique ability to create remarkable stories that have the ability to entertain and delight us, but not all of the magical worlds and interesting places that exist within these bodies of work have been created entirely from their imaginations. In fact, there are some fictional destinations that you can actually visit in real life, even if they seem so far-fetched that we can’t possibly imagine they exist (and in some cases, like the town which served as the inspiration for Silent Hill, we don’t want to imagine that they do).
Whether it is historic man-made structures from an ancient world, the natural scenery which inspired a fantasy land, or abandoned film sets, there are a number of places which fans can visit and retrace the footsteps of their favorite character or work of fiction. Or simply use the destination as an opportunity to take an out-of-this-world selfie. From childhood favorites like Winnie the Pooh, and the forest that inspired the setting for where the adventures took place, to the filming locations of Game of Thrones and Star Wars. Below are 20 fictional places that you thought only existed in fantasy realms.
20 'Game of Thrones' Pentos Can Be Found In A Beautiful Spot In Malta
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, in the series you would have seen Pentos, one of the free cities, and the place where Daenerys Targaryen lived for a time before her marriage to Khal Drogo, Fandom reports. But this place doesn’t just exist within the fantasy realm, and fans could actually see this spot in real-life, too, if they journeyed to the Azure Window in Malta. According to The Whole World Is A Playground, The Azure Window in Gozo was the scene for the wedding of these two Game of Thrones characters.
But be warned, this tourist attraction has been altered after heavy storms in 2017, which the Irish Times reports caused the 28 meter Azure Window to collapse into the Mediterranean.
19 Canyon City Is Not Just A Place From 'Indiana Jones'
The Canyon of the Crescent Moon is yet another place that people may have thought only existed in fictional works, but the place that housed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’s Temple of the Sun, or Grail Temple, can actually be found in Petra, Jordan. Well, sort of, because the fictional city was reportedly modeled on the eastern entrance to Petra.
According to National Geographic, for hundreds of years this prehistoric city, which can be found amid the desert canyons, was lost to the Western world, but in 1985, the Petra Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
18 Our Favorite 'Harry Potter' Castle, Hogwarts, Was Inspired By Alnwick Castle
Parts of the scenes for Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s famous school of witchcraft and wizardry, were filmed in Alnwick Castle, which is located in Northumberland, England.
According to a website for the castle, the first two films (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) used the castle as a location for filming. Among the most memorable landmarks are The Lion Arch, which was used as a way in and out of Hogwarts, and The Outer Bailey, which is recognized as the place were Harry Potter and other students learned to fly broomsticks as part of the sport, Quidditch.
17 The Beautiful Pandora From 'Avatar' Is The South Pillar of Heaven In The WuLingYuan National Park
The fantasy/science fiction film Avatar was set in the mythical land of Pandora, where the alien species Na'vi can be found, and although this Bioluminescence creature and planet does not exist in real-life, you can see the inspiration for the mountain scenes if you travel to China.
The inspirations were the pillars called South Pillar of Heaven, located in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in the Hunan Province, South Morning China Post reports. Tourists to this region are able to marvel at the natural beauty of this iconic mountain and have the opportunity to take their own photos at the eastern entrance to the park -- where they can take the tourist hop-on bus to the Bailong Elevator, and then ascend the mountain in a glass lift.
16 'The Great Gatsby's' West Egg Was Modeled After Oheka Castle In Huntington, New York
When F. Scott Fitzgerald penned The Great Gatsby, he is believed to have been inspired by a sprawling residence in Huntington, New York. This location, according to Medium, was The Oheka Castle, which was built in 1919 and was home to Otto Hermann Kahn (the website for the residence notes that at the time of construction, the home was the second-largest private residence ever built in America).
Kahn was apparently known for his lavish parties and celebrity connections during this time, and the publication claims that he and his home inspired Fitzgerald’s character, Jay Gatsby, and his fictional home on the West Egg of Long Island.
15 'Silent Hill' Was Based On The Eery Location Of Centralia In Pennsylvania
It may freak you out to learn that the Silent Hill town was actually based on a real-life place called Centralia in Pennsylvania. According to The 13th Floor, the town was a coal-mining town, with around 2,000 people calling it their home in the 1950s, but in May of 1962, the mine located underneath the town caught fire and for 16 years the inhabitants of the town tried to extinguish the fire that was still burning beneath their feet. But after multiple failed attempts and severe effects on their health, the people of the town were forced to abandon their homes and relocate.
In fact, according to Ranker, this fire is still ongoing and shows no signs of stopping, and smoke is constantly seeping out of cracks in the ground.
14 'Star Wars' Planet Tatooine Can Be Found Near Tozeur In Tunisia
Tatooine was the home planet of Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker, and fans of the film franchise can actually visit this desert world during a trip to Tunisia. According to Express, the film set still remains, preserved by the hot and dry climate (as well as nostalgic fans who have worked to restore the set) of this North African country.
As remarkable as this is, and as tempting as it may be for fans of the franchise to make a pilgrimage, in recent years the town has reportedly become increasingly unsafe, with The Guardian reporting in 2015, that it had become a waypoint for Isis fighters traveling to and from Libya.
13 The Shire Village, Hobbitton, Can Be Toured On A Visit To Matamata, New Zealand
While the film location for Tatooine may be a potential safety risk, there is no issue with visiting Hobbitton and experiencing the wooden homes lived in by the hobbits of the Peter Jackson directed films (from the adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien’s books), The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit.
Located in Matamata, in the small agricultural town in the Waikato region of New Zealand, fans can embark on a daily tour to the movie set, with some of the top sites including Bag End, the Green Dragon Inn, the mill and the Party Tree, Hamilton and Waikato reports.
12 'Frozen’s' Arendelle Was Inspired By Norway’s Nærøyfjord
Disney’s animated film, Frozen, was a huge success, and apparently, the Arendelle kingdom was inspired by the drama and beauty of a Norwegian fjord. According to The Globe and Mail, Arendelle was inspired by the UNESCO world heritage site, Nærøyfjord.
Nærøyfjord is part of a branch of the Sognefjord, and is 17 km long, with the narrowest point being just 250 meters wide, Visit Norway reports. Huffington Post reports that the success of the film increased tourism to Norway, and probably not just for adults because the publication notes that Nærøyfjord is on the Frozen-inspired Adventures by Disney Norway cruise.
11 'Batmans' Arkham Asylum Can Also Be Known As Danvers State Hospital In Massachusetts
Arkham Asylum is a fictional psychiatric hospital commonly featuring as part of Batman’s storyline, and it was reportedly based on Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts. According to Atlas Obscura, Danvers State Hospital opened in 1878, but by the 1930s the hospital was struggling to accurately treat its patients because of overcrowding and disrepair. In 1992, the hospital closed down, but not before serving as inspiration for horror writer H. P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanitarium, and later Batman’s Arkham Asylum.
As for the state of the building now? History of Massachusetts says it was turned into an apartment building, and then later sold to a real estate developer.
10 Winterfell, The Home Of The Starks, Can Be Found In Northern Ireland
There is a Game of Thrones tourist attraction located in Northern Ireland.
Castle Ward is found in the west of the village of Strangford, in County Down (just 40 minutes from Belfast), and this is the place where Game of Thrones built the set of Winterfell. The location now offers fans an opportunity to see some of the most memorable locations of the Stark’s homeland. And according to Visit Belfast, these include the Whispering Wood, Winterfell Archery Range (which has been recreated in the courtyard, where fans can practice their own archery), and the place where Bran Stark had a fall from Winterfell Castle.
9 Paradise Falls From The Adorable Animated Film 'Up' Was Inspired By Venezuela's Tepui
The heartwarming animated film, Up, focuses on the journey of an old man trying to fulfill one of his life-long dreams: to visit South America and see Paradise Falls. The destination was reportedly inspired by a real plane in Venezuela. According to ScoopWhoop while Paradise Falls doesn’t exist, the team who worked on the Pixar film visited the tepui of Canaima National Park in Venezuela -- and it wasn’t an easy journey, even if it was a worthwhile one.
As for the name Paradise Falls, Fandom reports that this name may have been taken from Angel Falls, which is the highest waterfall in Venezuela.
8 Radiator Springs In 'Cars' Was Inspired By Real Places On Route 66
Radiator Springs from the animated film Cars was created by the team who worked on the film, but is based off real locations from Route 66 in the United States -- one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. Interestingly, the buildings and even some of the characters have been based off real places and people, with Route 66 News noting that Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel is the real-life historic Blue Swallow Motel, and The Cadillac Range of mountains is inspired by the real-life Amarillo landmark, Cadillac Ranch.
And as for characters? Well, the publication claims that these include Fillmore, the VW microbus, who was inspired by Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire, and Sally the Porsche, who was based on a woman named Dawn Welch, owner of the Rock Cafe in Stroud, Oklahoma.
7 'Jaws' Fans Can Visit Martha's Vineyard If They Want To Be Closer To Amity Island
In Jaws, Amity Island is located on Long Island in New York, but Martha's Vineyard, which lies off the coast of Massachusetts, was the place that director Steven Spielberg chose to portray Amity.
Apart from the idyllic beaches that were filmed, Curbed notes that there are many places Jaws fans can visit, including the Amity Town Hall, which was filmed at Edgartown's actual Town Hall, and the wooden Jaws Bridge is located between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. Actually, fans can go on a one-hour walking tour to revisit places from some of their favorite scenes, and this tour is offered by the Edgartown Tour Company.
6 The Hundred Acre Wood From 'Winnie The Pooh' Was Created Thanks To Ashdown Forest
If you take a trip to Ashdown Forest in the in the High Weald Area of Sussex, England, you may feel as though you have taken a trip down memory lane, because this is the forest that is said to have inspired the setting for childhood favorite Winnie the Pooh. The author of the books, A. A. Milne, is said to have lived on the outskirts of Ashdown Forest (a 6,500-acre wood) and watched his son, Christopher Robin play with toys there, which inspired him to create the Winnie the Pooh books, and the Hundred Acre Wood, where the adventures of the characters took place.
5 'Game Of Thrones' Fans Want To Visit Dubrovnik To See King’s Landing
King’s Landing, the capital of the seven kingdoms in HBO's Game Of Thrones, is a unique place, and producers found the perfect spot to film it. Elite Daily reports that much of the filming was in the UNESCO World Heritage site, the city of Dubrovnik, in Croatia. Actually, fans of the series are able to go on a walking tour of the Old City walls of Dubrovnik and admire the spectacular views, but also see places where scenes were filmed, including the Lovrijenac Fortress.
According to King’s Landing Dubrovnik, the fortress is located just outside the Western wall of the Old Town.
4 Overlook Hotel From 'The Shining' Was Inspired By The Stanley In Colorado
Stephen King’s The Shining is a cult classic, and the main setting in this book (which was adapted to film by Stanley Kubrick) is the fictional Overlook Hotel, a secluded hotel which is located in the Rocky Mountains. But it turns out this place was not entirely imagined by King, and he is believed to have drawn inspiration from The Stanley in Estes Park, Colorado, which is located approximately five miles from the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, Fandom reports.
King and his wife reportedly spent a night in the hotel in 1974, and they were the only guests who stayed overnight. In the dining room, they ate, just the two of them, while the chairs of the other tables were up on tables, and canned orchestra music echoed through the empty halls.
3 The Island The Characters In 'Lost' Were Stranded In Can Be Found In Oahu, Hawai
When the survivors of a plane crash found themselves lost on a mysterious island, strange things start to happen, and this was the premise of the hit series, Lost. However, the island actually exists, and the filming took place in Oahu, Hawaii, with some of the more memorable sites on the island including Papailoa Beach, where the survivors camped for most of the show, and Waimea Valley Audubon Center, the place which Honolulu Magazine, reports is the waterfall and pool where part of the plane crashed. It was also to be the place Kate and Sawyer went swimming and found a locked case.
2 You Can Become A Duke Or Duchess Of 'Downton Abbey' In Highclere Castle
Downton Abbey is the drama series about the Crawley family, their domestic servants, and their beautiful home located in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey. But in actual fact, the filming for this series was done on the 1,000-acre estate, Highclere Castle, located in Hampshire, England.
The magnificent Victorian castle is closed for much of the year, only opening to the general public for around 65 days a year. But, during this time, visitors (and probably many Downton Abbey fans) are welcome to take a self-guided tour of the castle and the gardens, the Highclere Castle website reports.
1 Swan House in Atlanta, Georgia, Made An Appearance In 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
The Swan House in Atlanta, Georgia, was built in 1928 by architect Phillip Trammell Shutze, one of America’s most celebrated classicists, Huffington Post reports. It was home to the wealthy Inman family, who, after the Civil War helped rebuild the city of Atlanta with their businesses and industries.
But more importantly, the publication notes that it served as the set for President Snow's house in Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and this was done because of the classic architecture, and the original antiques.
According to the Atlanta History Center, visitors can enjoy a behind the scenes Swan House tour, which takes approximately 45 minutes and gives you a chance to explore the rooms of this historic mansion.