Destinations

13 Breathtaking Real-Life Places That Inspired Disney Movies

These locations that your favorite Disney films are based on will make you believe in magic.
IMAGE DISNEY/ GETTY
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These locations that your favorite Disney films are based on will make you believe in magic.

MOVIE: The Sultan's Palace in Aladdin


Located right in the center of Agrabah near the Jordan River, the Sultan's Palace is visible no matter where you are in town.

INSPIRATION: Taj Mahal in Agra, India


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The Sultan's Palace was loosely based on this architectural wonder in Agra, India. Although the Taj Mahal is a tomb, not a palace, we can see the inspiration come through in the movie's storyline as well: For example, Aladdin has a pet monkey and Jasmine has a tiger—two animals Agra is known for.

MOVIE: The Beast's Castle in Beauty and the Beast


After a spell is cast on this Baroque-style castle, it becomes a dark and mysterious place—until Belle breaks the curse, that is.

INSPIRATION: Château de Chambord in Loir-et-Cher, France


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The Beast may have been cursed, but his castle was modeled after quite the elegant abode. This stunning château in central France is characterized by its distinctive French Renaissance architecture.

MOVIE: Small Village Square in Beauty and the Beast


Belle lives in a peaceful, secluded village filled with charming local vendors, such as a flower shop and a book store.

INSPIRATION: Alsace, France


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Belle's hometown features many architectural details reminiscent of the northeastern region of France. And while the town's inspiration is unconfirmed, the movie offers small hints of Alsace culture beyond the town square, like the design on the wine bottles featured in the film, according to Disney Wikia.

MOVIE: Elsa's Ice Palace in Frozen


Created by Queen Elsa as a place she could live in isolation, the Ice Palace is quite the sight to behold.

INSPIRATION: Hôtel de Glace in Quebec City, Canada


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If you spend the night in Quebec City's ice hotel, we won't blame you for belting out a verse or two of "Let it Go." Being surrounded by snow vaults and crystalline ice sculptures will truly make you feel like a snow queen.

MOVIE: DunBroch Castle in Brave


Located in the Scottish Highlands, Princess Merida resides in this stunning fortress with her royal family during the Medieval period.

INSPIRATION: Eilean Donan Castle


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Brave may be a fairytale, but the places that inspired Disney are very real. This iconic castle overlooks the sea on one side and rolling Scottish highlands on the other—just like DunBroch.

MOVIE: Pacha's Village in The Emperor's New Groove


As the leader of a poor village, Pacha lives in a hut at the top of a hill—the very spot Kuzco wants to build his ginormous summer home, Kuzcotopia.

INSPIRATION: Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru


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While Incan influence is evident throughout the movie, Pacha's village may just be the most obvious—the hill is actually based on a very familiar looking mountain: Machu Picchu.

MOVIE: The Royal Castle in Sleeping Beauty


After being cursed by Maleficent, Princess Aurora is placed under a sleeping spell inside this towering castle.

INSPIRATION: Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany


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Not only did this striking castle provide inspiration for the movie, you can see a real-life version of Sleeping Beauty's castle inspired by the German palace at Disneyland.

MOVIE: The Kingdom in Tangled


Rapunzel was born in Corona, an island topped by a towering castle and surrounded by the sea.

INSPIRATION: Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France


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According to Disney art designer Laurent Ben-Mimoun, the movie took literal inspiration from Mont Saint-Mitchel to create a renaissance castle on an island that emulates the "peinture galante" style.

MOVIE: Emperor's Home in Mulan


Not only is real-life architectural influence evident in Mulan, it's also based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan.

INSPIRATION: Forbidden City in Beijing, China


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Mulan is thought to be set during the Han Dynasty, based on the traditional clothing the characters wear. However, Disney sought inspiration from this stunning landmark that would be built over 1,000 years later.

MOVIE: The Cathedral in The Hunchback of Notre Dame


It's safe to say that Bell ringer Quasimodo's home is a very literal reinterpretation of a real-life Parisian landmark.

INSPIRATION: Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris


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You guessed it: Producers visited France while they were developing The Hunchback of Notre Dame to explore every last nook and cranny of the famous cathedral.

MOVIE: Prince Eric's Castle in The Little Mermaid


Located on the shores of a mountainous region, Prince Eric's castle overlooks Ariel's underwater home.

INSPIRATION: Chateau de Chillon in Lake Geneva, Switzerland


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This historic monument dates back to the twelfth century and is thought to be the inspiration for Prince Eric's Castle, given its lakeside location.

MOVIE: Queen's Castle in Snow White


This classic fairytale castle is where the Queen plots to surpass Snow White as "the fairest in the land."

INSPIRATION: Segovia Castle in Spain


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Raised high above a rocky terrain, the Alcázar of Segovia has a distinctive shape that resamples the bow of a ship.

MOVIE: City in Atlantis: The Lost Empire


In this animated science fiction film, a young man and his crew journey to find the lost city of Atlantis.

INSPIRATION: Angkor Wat in Angkor, Cambodia


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If you'd like to journey to the fabled lost city of Atlantis, visiting this temple complex would be your best best. While the movie blends together architectural characteristics from around the world, the aerial view of Atlantis is said to resemble this Cambodian destination.

*This article originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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