With upside down houses and buildings designed to look like skeletons, Europe is full of weird and wonderful architectural oddities. Here are some of the highlights.
Cube Houses in Rotterdam, Netherlands
The cube houses in Rotterdam
The canary-coloured cube houses of Rotterdam were designed to resemble a forest and each house represents an individual tree. Perched atop individual pylons, these cube houses are in fact, the size of a normal Dutch house that have been rotated by 45°. The overall effect is surreal, yet practical.
Look up and experience an Alice in Wonderland moment as the bright yellow houses peer down at you. Look down and you’ll realise that the narrow pylons take up much less space on the ground than an average house. While the cube houses are all occupied, a similar design was undertaken at the spectacular Inntel Hotel in Zaandam..
Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland
The spire of the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik
Designed to mimic Iceland’s dramatic mountains and glaciers as it towers above Reykjavik, Hallgrímskirkja or ‘the church of Hallgrímur’ was named after one of the country’s best known writers. Hallgrímur Pétursson wrote the Passion Hymns, 50 poetic sermons that have become an important part of Iceland’s culture.
Therefore, it is befitting that the building named after him would be as beautiful and imposing as his life’s work. The base of the church curves around as if to embrace visitors while the pinnacle of this icy white monument has an observation platform that takes in all of Reykjavik and its surrounding mountains. Treat yourself to a room with a view of the Hallgrímskirkja by checking into Freyja Guesthouse & Suites.
Casa Batlló in Barcelona, Spain
The mosiac walls of the Casa Batlló in Barcelona
Visitors in Barcelona may flock to the Sagrada Familia or Parc Guell, but for a true insight into one of Antoni Gaudí’s fantastical creations, it’s hard to beat Casa Batlló. Also known as The House of Bones, this imposing house is easy to spot thanks to its unique roof which was designed to resemble the back of a dragon – complete with jewel-coloured scales.
The walls of Casa Batlló are studded with fragments of ceramic tiles, creating a distinctive contrast against the gaping balconies. Its curved ledges are often likened to bones and at night, strategic lighting gives the impression of skeletal faces watching passersby. Beautiful and haunting whatever time of the day, make sure you see all sides of Casa Batlló by staying directly opposite at the Hotel Margot House.
Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki, Finland
The inside of Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki
At first glance, the striking Temppeliaukio Church looks like it’s been around for centuries. Carved directly into the side of a hill with an ice-age crevice for an altarpiece and exposed rock walls covered by indoor waterfalls, Temppeliaukio Church imbues visitors with a sense of ancient rituals.
Very impressive for a building that was only completed in 1969, the Temppeliaukio Church was designed by brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. Split-balconies give visitors a fantastic view of Helsinki, while showcasing the Suomalianens’ fondness for playing with perspective and proportion. For even more spectacular views of Finlandia Park, you can stay less than a 10-minute walk away at the Apartment Hotel Aallonkoti.
Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy
The leafy towers of the Bosco Verticale in Milan
While urban towers and lush greenery are not usually associated with Milan, the city has always embraced innovation (especially when it comes to architecture). Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) are two towers in Milan’s Porta Nuova district that are covered in 800 trees and 15,000 plants.
Designed to help revitalise this residential neighbourhood and help combat deforestation that large cities like Milan often suffer from, the effect is that of a leafy oasis. While most of the suites are permanently occupied, it is possible to spend the night in this truly unique building.