10 Magical Places That Inspired Fairytale Movies

year ago

Imagine a place so beautiful that it makes you think it doesn’t belong in this world. There are places in every country that seem to have been taken straight out of a fairy tale. These charming villages, ancient castles, and deep forests have served as inspiration for movie designers and producers to create kingdoms that marvel us on screen, and today we’re taking a tour of some of them.

Let Bright Side show you that there are magical places on Earth. Here are some of the most amazing places that have served as inspiration for fairy tale movies.

1. Beauty and the Beast

Say bonjour to Alsace, the French region famous for its picturesque villages. The film was based on the original story written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, a French writer from the 17th century. So Belle’s “small provincial town” is, in fact, a small provincial town. The producers picked villages like Colmar and Eguisheim to portray Belle’s town and we can only say the result would’ve highly pleased Miss Barbot de Villeneuve.

2. Moana

John Musker, one of the directors, got the idea for the movie from a book describing the Polynesian mythical hero, Māui. He had the tough job of traveling to many of the delightful South Pacific Islands to do some research, learn about the indigenous people’s culture and traditions, and reproduce the breathtaking landscapes of Motunui, Moana’s island.

3. Pinocchio

Disney based the film on the children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Lorenzini, whose mother’s hometown was the Italian village of Collodi. It was so close to Carlo’s heart that he began to sign his name, Carlo Collodi. Its tiny houses, narrow stone-paved streets, and arches made this Tuscan village the perfect starting point for designing Pinocchio.

4. Brave

It’s no secret that the movie is set in the Scottish Highlands, Disney even registered Merida’s clan tartan with the official Scottish Register of Tartans. The medieval Dunnottar Castle that is surrounded by the greenest countryside in the world serves as the perfect place for Merida’s adventures to take place. It seems only obvious to expect magic spells, archery competitions, and a Scottish English accent here.

5. Frozen

The landscape is taken from Norway’s rural towns and its magnificent fjords. You can see the resemblance in the natural scenery, wooden churches, brick architecture, textile patterns, and even the animals (think of Sven). Why? Because the story was inspired by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. So it seems only natural that Michael Giaimo, the art director of Frozen, traveled to Scandinavia to look for inspiration.

6. Cinderella

You can’t get any closer to a fairytale castle than this one. It was Herbert Ryman who designed Cinderella’s original castle. His main inspiration was the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany. It was originally constructed by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a summer castle. Its high pointy towers, arched entrance, and surrounding forest perfectly match those of Cinderella’s Prince’s castle.

7. Mulan

Mulan’s ancestors must be proud. The movie is an adaptation of the old Chinese folk tale, The Ballad of Hua Mulan, which dates back to the 5th-6th century. Producers did historical research and placed the story where it should’ve taken place, between the Ming and Qing dynasties. The famous scenery portrayed in the film, like the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City of Beijing, were already built by that time.

8. The Little Mermaid

The Swiss castle of Chillon, on the shores of Lake Geneva, was the inspiration for Prince Eric’s home sweet home. The castle is surrounded by water, its wide towers correspond to those in the film, and the narrow windows complete the look. Sadly, though, that there’s no prince Eric to welcome us inside.

9. Aladdin

Where is this — India? Arabia? The fictional city of Agrabah is located someplace in the Middle East. The song Arabian Nights confirms this. But Jasmine’s palace and the Taj Mahal in India are exceptionally similar. This is because it was constructed during the Indian Mughal Empire, where the culture was similar to that of Middle East and its architecture prevailed.

10. Tangled

Yes, those towers exist. Rapunzel’s was an adaptation of the French Medieval towers, like the ones in Chenonceau. For the castle, on the other hand, the designer’s idea, to have it on an island similar to the one on Mont-Saint-Michel in the Kingdom of Corona, was definitely a winning one.

Do you know a place in your country that’s so amazing it could inspire a fairytale? Describe it in the comments!

Please note: This article was updated in July 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.


Well, I knew that Moana's landscapes were probably inspired by Tahiti or some other exotic islands. I mean, what else could that be? :D
Taj Mahal inspired many people around the world, I'm so glad! ?
Rapunzel is my favorite Disney princess, and now I would love to visit her "real" castle! :)

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