The world is full of weird and wonderful attractions. Some are worth planning trips around; others are best enjoyed en route to someplace else. You might think America has a monopoly on strange roadside attractions, but there are a quite a few wacky landmarks in Europe as well. From unusual sculptures to bizarre architecture, here’s a list of curious sights to keep you entertained on your next European road trip.
1. The Fork of Vevey in Vevey, Switzerland
There are a lot of spectacular lakes on the planet, but only one has an eight-meter (26-foot) utensil sticking out of it. This giant fork rises over Lake Geneva like something out of a Lewis Carroll story, and has held the Guinness World Record for tallest fork since 2014. It was created by artists Jean-Pierre Zaugg and Georges Favres in 1995 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Vevey’s food-themed Alimentarium museum. You can get a good look at the stainless steel installation from chairs secured by the water’s edge. Just be sure to have snacks on hand if you decide to stay for a while in case the supersized cutlery starts making you massively hungry.
2. The Headington Shark in Oxford, England
2 New High Street would be a perfectly normal Oxford residence if not for the large fiberglass shark protruding from its roof. Although it looks like a prop from the Sharknado franchise, the sculpture was actually intended as a political statement on nuclear power. It was designed by John Buckley in 1986 and erected 41 years after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Today, the Headington Shark is an iconic local attraction that you should mark on your road map of southern England.
3. The Tuborgflasken in Hellerup, Denmark
The Danes love a good Pilsner, as is evidenced by the gigantic Tuborg bottle that towers over Hellerup. The Tuborgflasken was created for a national exhibition in 1888 and later converted into a functional observation deck. It did a brief stint in Copenhagen but has since returned to Hellerup, where the Tuborg brewery was founded in 1873. You can’t go to the top anymore, but it’s still worth snapping a photo with the impressive 26-meter (85-foot) brew.
4. The Snail House in Sofia, Bulgaria
As you might have guessed, this strange structure on the outskirts of Bulgaria’s capital was made to look like a giant mollusk. But what the site’s name doesn’t give away is its awesome psychedelic paint job. Rainbow-colored stripes and swirls cover the five-story house from the tips of its tentacles to the bottom of its colossal shell. Better still, the Snail House was made entirely out of eco-friendly materials, so it’s doing its part to protect the planet, not to mention the critter that inspired its one-of-a-kind facade.
5. Woinic the Boar in Saulces-Monclin, France
It makes sense that the world’s largest boar lives in France, birthplace of delicacies like pâté and saucisson. Equally fitting, the more than 50-ton attraction rises over mustard fields just off the A34 highway near the Belgian border. Woinic was installed in 2008 and takes its name from sculptor Eric Sléziak’s parents, Woidouche and Nicole. The giant pig is an icon of France’s Ardennes department, which considers boars a symbol of strength, and even inspired a beer by the Ardwen microbrewery.
6. The Casa do Penedo in Fafe, Portugal
If the Flintstones had a summer home in the Portuguese countryside, it would look something like the Casa do Penedo, or “House of Stone.” This unusual abode was constructed out of four boulders in 1974, but it could easily be mistaken for a relic of prehistoric times. It sits on a hill between Celorico de Basto and Fafe, Portugal, and although it has been fenced off as private property, you can still admire the Casa do Penedo from below.
7. The Osborne Bulls in Spain
As soon as you learn about the Osborne bull billboards, you start seeing them all over the Spanish countryside. The advertisements, which resemble bulls in silhouette, were erected on hilltops and beside highways across Spain starting in 1956 to market the Osborne’s Brandy de Jerez. There are around 90 bulls still standing around Spain, which is more than enough to invent a car game around on your next long-distance trip.
8. The Kelpies in Grangemouth, Scotland
Twin horse heads stand guard over the Forth and Clyde Canal in Grangemouth, Scotland. Designed by figurative sculptor Andy Scott, this installation celebrates a mythological Scottish spirit known as the Kelpie, a shape-shifting water creature that often takes the form of a horse. The heads are around 30 meters (98 feet) tall each and look particularly striking in the evening, when they’re illuminated by bright red lights. A testament to local lore, The Kelpies are located in the Falkirk District about 45 minutes by car from both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
9. The Hill of Crosses in Šiauliai, Lithuania
The Hill of Crosses is something you should see regardless of how you decide to get around Lithuania. It’s a holy pilgrimage site where people have been planting crosses and crucifixes, as well as rosaries and other Catholic articles, for at least 200 years. The Hill of Crosses is located just north of Šiauliai in Jurgaičiai off the A12 highway, so be sure to add it to your itinerary if you’re planning a drive through northern Lithuania.
10. The Giant Clothespin in Chaudfontaine, Belgium
Designed by Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysal, this large clothespin appears to be pinching together a grassy mound in Chaudfontaine Park. The piece was created for the Festival of Five Seasons and exemplifies Uysal’s style, which relies heavily on trick imagery and distorted perspectives. Stop by next time you’re passing through the area and enjoy this fun small-town attraction in the fresh Belgian air.
11. The Giant Royal Heads in Oakley Green, England
Queen Elizabeth II’s likeness has appeared on everything from currencies to thimbles, and she’s been the subject of many statues and sculptures, but one royal tribute stands out among the rest. Not far from Windsor Castle, massive terracotta heads depicting the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh adorn Oakley Green resident Ben Bennett’s lawn. The quirky busts measure roughly four meters (12 feet) and have fake grass arranged on their heads to look like hair. They’re visible from the B3024 on the way to Windsor, giving you the opportunity to see Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip up close on the off chance you don’t bump into them outside the royal residence.
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