Inspiration is often unpredictable, sparked randomly by the sight of something beautiful or a mindset craving a new perspective on something ordinary. Writers, painters, sculptors, and filmmakers travel the world with their creative eyes on, moved to immortalize their experiences with works of art. These visitable locations around the world are real-life inspirations for noteworthy masterpieces of all kinds.
10 Fingal's Cave, Scotland
There's something magical lingering within the walls of Fingal's Cave. The cave itself is named after an epic poem written by James MacPherson. Imposing hexagonal columns formed by lava gives the sea cave its unique handcrafted appearance. The sight alone inspired a painting by J.M.W Turner of the geological wonder shrouded in mist and steam, a boat heading away from the cave towards a hazy sun.
The cave's inspiring effects don't end there, though. Fingal's Cave is also known for its naturally impeccable acoustics. After a visit, composer Felix Mendelssohn completed "Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave)," a piece of music celebrated for bringing the sea to life with song. English rock band Pink Floyd also journeyed to the location, the trip resulting in an eerie and slightly uncomfortable song called "Fingal's Cave," which captured the feelings they were left with after their visit.
9 Mount Roraima, Venezuela
What's not inspiring about a mountain so tall that even the clouds bow around its summit? The flat-topped Mount Roraima rises almost 10,000 feet from the ground in Venezuela, its rocky walls crowned in lush green flora. Hiking enthusiasts spend multiple days summiting the peak, met along the way by a series of waterfalls, abundant vegetation, and colorful natural jacuzzis. The otherworldly landscape inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's highly celebrated novel, The Lost World, centered on a South American expedition in which explorers encounter prehistoric animals.
8 The Olson House, Cushing, Maine
Sometimes all it takes to rouse creativity is the feeling a person gets simply from looking at something ordinary. Perhaps it was the way the wind blew through the golden tallgrass field. Or how the house in the distance looked at once close and far away. American painter Andrew Wyeth used the Olson House as inspiration for many pieces, perhaps most notably capturing a feeling of longing, or maybe despair, in Christina's World.
The iconic painting depicts a woman in a pink dress lying in the grass with the home in the background. Christina's World will live on forever in New York's Museum of Modern Art. Though the scenery has changed some, the house still motivates visitors eager to recreate the original painting through photography.
7 Abiquiú, New Mexico
It's unsurprising that the diverse landscapes of New Mexico could prompt an artist to capture its essence in a painting. Rock formations smeared in an array of eye-catching colors are illuminated by the bright sun in a cloudless, blue sky. Expanses of barren desert scenery ignite all sorts of feelings, from loneliness to amazement and everything in between.
Famous watercolor painter Georgia O'Keeffe was impressed by the stark scenery and regularly visited her two homes in northern New Mexico. One of the homes sat on the edge of the Ghost Ranch, a former dude ranch transformed today into a retreat center that offers guests the chance to absorb the same energy that inspired O'Keeffe's New Mexico paintings.
5 Yosemite National Park, California
"But no temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life…as if into this one mountain mansion Nature had gathered her choicest treasures," John Muir wrote in his book, The Yosemite. He was so inspired after his initial visit that he dedicated much of his life to preserving its awe-striking beauty in both action and written art, playing an integral role in getting Yosemite named a National Park in 1890.
Without Muir, it's possible that one of America's most beloved national parks may have never been what it is today. Visitors to Yosemite can see the cabin Muir built along the creek and take in the same soothing waters that lulled him to sleep.
France has long attracted artists of all kinds, its romantic atmosphere igniting the hearts of visitors from around the world. Celebrated Impressionist painter Claude Monet found his home in Giverny, where he spent years crafting the property to serve as inspiration for some of his most famous paintings.
Visitors to his home can walk across the wooden footbridge immortalized in his Water Lily Series, a stroll sure to make art lovers weak in their knees. The house has been restored and the gardens kept alive to preserve the landscape responsible for some of the world's most-loved Impressionist masterpieces.
4 Figueres, Spain
Eccentric painter Salvador Dalí returned to his hometown of Figueres, Spain, after a whirlwind life filled with fame garnered from his mastery of Surrealist art. The painter focused his energy on the construction of the Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueres for over a decade, stating, "I want my museum to be a single block, a labyrinth, a great surrealist object. It will be [a] totally theatrical museum. The people who come to see it will leave with the sensation of having had a theatrical dream."
Dalí exceeded expectations, creating a building more quirky than his curly, upturned mustache and considered by many to be his last masterpiece. The structure itself is a work of art, the vibrant, red exterior topped with strangely ornate egg sculptures. Guests can admire the most extensive collection of the artist's works in an interior designed by the man himself.
3 The Dibble House, Eldon, Iowa
A small town in Iowa might seem like the last place someone would find inspiration, forgetting that ordinary life is responsible for numerous masterpieces throughout history. A modest, white house sits on a patch of green grass in Eldon, serving as the background of Grant Wood's iconic painting, American Gothic.
The artist used his sister and dentist to portray the recognizable farmer and daughter standing in front of the house, stating, "I imagined American Gothic people with their faces stretched out long to go with this American Gothic house." As expected, visitors to the home hold nothing back in their attempts to recreate the masterpiece using themselves as the subjects.
2 Snæfellsjökull, Iceland
Iceland is known for its breathtaking scenery, with eerie black sand beaches, mesmerizing mountains, and stunning seascapes. Much of the land has been shaped by volcanoes, creating the rugged terrain that inspired Jules Verne's novel, A Journey to the Center of the Earth. The science-fiction book takes readers on an adventure into the Snæfellsjökull volcano, where the characters face several obstacles along the way. Though Verne never actually visited Iceland, it's no wonder the volcano's rugged peaks stirred the writer's imagination.
1 Paronella Park, Australia
It's easy to see how a visit to Paronella Park led to the creation of the fantastical world depicted in Hayao Miyazaki's animated film, A Castle in the Sky. The dreamy tourist attraction is brimming with fairytale landscapes. The property contains a stone castle surrounded by tropical flora, lush ferns, and wild growth. A grand avenue of towering trees creates a luxurious natural hallway, and the gardens attract a variety of butterflies that float through the skies of the storybook environment. Paronella Park is a popular destination for idyllic wedding celebrations, inspiring photographers to capture the magic of love and nature in the gorgeous setting.