When stumbling through the internet, I love to come across weird and wonderful stuff. It could be everything from unique hotels to weird food that I would like to check out. Whenever I travel, I also try to check out the most interesting buildings a city has to offer, from really strange constructions to architectural masterpieces or buildings covered by cool street art. A building is not always just a building, they can have the strangest forms and functions. So here you have it, some of the oddest and most fascinating buildings I want to visit. The beautiful and the weird.

1. The shoe house – Pennsylvania, USA

Photo via theamericanroadside (CC)

I would have loved this house even more if the heel was a bit higher, but I’ll settle for this shoe. The shoe house was constructed in 1948 as an advertising gimmick by “Colonel” Mahlon N. Haines. It was used as a guest house where elderly couples could live like ‘king and queens’ on Haines’ expense. In 1950 honeymooning couples from any town with a Haines shoe store were invited to stay at the Shoe House. Unfortunately you cannot sleep over in the shoe, but you can get a guided tour and eat ice cream novelties (via Shoehouse).

2. Kansas City Library, USA

Photo by Jonathan Moreau (CC)

A library looking like a bookshelf, great idea! It would have been pretty cool to have a travelettes book up there though! The open book shape seems to be rather popular for buildings, represented by the City Hochhaus in Leipzig (Germany), The National Library of France, and the “House of Free Creativity” in Turkmenistan, ironically housing media organizations and dedicated to the free press, in a country listed as one of the world’s most censored.

Photo credit: Leibzig, Paris, Ashgabat (Turkmenistan)

3. The Elephant Tower in Bangkok, Thailand

Photo by Eke Miedaner (CC)

The building is one of the most famous buildings in Bangkok, obviously because it looks exactly like Thailand’s national animal, the elephant. The building is used as a condominium, office space, and houses a language school.

4. The House in the Clouds in Thorpeness, Suffolk, England

Photo by Richard Tanswell (CC)

This is what a house looks like if you put it on ‘high heel’. The House in the Clouds can be yours for a holiday with a guaranteed good view over Suffolk. The house was built in the 1920s in the holiday resort Thorpeness, that is supposed to be the ideal holiday village “for people who want to experience life as it was when England was Merrie England“.

5. The Flintstone House in the mountains of Fafe, Portugal

Photo by Feliciano Guimarães (CC)

The house was constructed in 1972 with the purpose of being a family’s holiday home. This house in the middle of nowhere was meant to be a place of relaxation away from everything, but the media interest (sorry for contributing) has made it a popular place for curious tourists to stop by. It really looks like the Flintstones house from the outside, so if you’re looking for a trip back to the stone age this is a great place to stop by (see here for a video in Portuguese showing the cozy  interior).

6. The Upside Down House in Szymbark, Poland

Photo by Ken Gordon (CC)

In addition to being a major tourist attraction, this house is meant to be a statement about the Communist era and the state of the world. The house in the tiny village Szymbark was a project by the Polish businessman and philanthropist Daniel Czapiewski. Fun fact: It would normally take 3 weeks to construct a house, but this one took 114 days because the workers were disoriented by the strange angles of the walls. Many tourists who visit complain of mild seasickness and dizziness after just a few minutes of being in the structure (via freshome).

7. The Basket Building in Ohio, USA

Photo by Addicted Eyes (CC)

This must be one of the weirdest office buildings around, and guess for what? The company sitting in here makes baskets. I wonder whether they have picnics every day. I would.

8. The Piano House in Anhui, China

Photos via Weird Asia News

Inside the see-through violin you will find the escalator up to the piano. I would automatically assume that this building would have something to do with music, but no, inside you’ll find urban planning information. You can look at city plans and development prospects that are kept inside this building to draw interest to the recently developed area.

9. Toilet-shaped house in Suweon, South Korea

Photo via Eyan.is

This house was build by the chairman of the organizing committee of the Inaugural General Assembly of the World Toilet  Association hoping that his house will highlight the global need for better sanitation (via Freshome).

10. Carhenge in Western Nebraska, USA

Photo via artificialowl

Carhenge is not technically a building, but a weird construction indeed. The construction is a replica of the famous Stonehenge, and consists of a circle of car wrecks. I think we should construct a mini high-heel shoehenge in our travelettes office..

Have you spotted any weird buildings while traveling?


Kathrine Opshaug Bakke Kathrine Opshaug Bakke, editor at Travelettes from 2009 to 2013, wrote this post. Originating from Norway, she has been living in Berlin, Lisbon, and Stockholm the past 6 years.

She loves cities with imperfect facades, photography, traveling by bike, vintage hunting, and everything that comes with cheese. Follow her visual diary at anchoredpaperplane.com.