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Where some see an architectural flaw, others see beauty — or at least a photo op. While the Leaning Tower of Pisa may be the most famous of the world's tilted towers, it's far from being the only piece of off-kilter construction humans have created. From the Balkans to East Asia, check out these four other leaning buildings for a new and slightly slanted perspective on the world.
Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic
If Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were a building, they'd be the Dancing House in Prague — and no, we're not making that up. The modern, whimsical towers were inspired by the famous theater couple, with Fred represented by the leaning stone tower and Ginger represented by the curved glass one beside it.
The Dancing House was a tandem project by two world-class architects, Vlado Milunić and Frank O. Gehry. It stands on the property of a house that was destroyed by air bombing during World War II. Debuting in 1996, the structure is home to a hotel, gallery, and restaurant, and is today one of the most popular sights in the Czech capital.
The building and its terrace offer stunning views of one of the most visited European cities and, in particular, of Prague Castle. The enormous palatial complex is more than 1000 years old and blends architecture from the Romanesque, Baroque, and Gothic periods with gardens and courtyards across 70,000 square meters of well-preserved history.
The vibrant history of Prague doesn't end there, though. From Charles Bridge over the Vltava River to various galleries, museums, and more, the entire city is a prime sampling of centuries of art and architecture. Modern sights like the Dancing House stand side by side with Gothic spires, for a stunning mishmash of styles and a singularly beautiful city.
The Leaning Temple of Huma in Odisha, India
Dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the Leaning Temple of Huma is located along the Mahanadi River in eastern India. The prominent white domed shrine and the other buildings in the temple complex all tilt in various directions. What's uncertain, though, is why the buildings are leaning — and, in fact, how they came to be built at all.
Little is known about the construction of the temple, aside from a legend that says it rests on a spot where a milkman offered a daily offering to Shiva. As a result of its holy heritage and rare appearance, however, Huma has become a destination for pilgrims and tourists alike.
Regardless of how the lean began, the angle of the buildings has remained constant over the last 50 years, so there is fortunately little cause for concern that the construction is collapsing. While you're in the area, check out the popular Kudo fish in the local river. These supposedly sacred swimmers are friendly and will eat directly from your hand.
Odisha is home to other famous temples, including the Sun Temple with its intricate carvings and sculptures, and the uniquely layered shapes of the Lingaraj Temple. The latter, like the Temple of Huma, is dedicated to Shiva and is one of the most popular attractions in Bhubaneswar, Odisha's capital city. In addition to religious sites, the region also has some of the country's most lush and vibrant displays of nature in the Bhitarkanika National Park, which is most famous for its crocodiles.
Tiger Hill Pagoda in Suzhou, China
The Tiger Hill Pagoda is one of the most exquisite remnants of the Song Dynasty and has stood on Huqiu Hill for over a millennium. Built from brick, the seven-story tower was constructed in the style of earlier wooden pagodas from the Tang Dynasty centuries prior and has a distinct, octagonal shape.
The Tiger Hill Pagoda — or Huqiu Tower, as it's also known — was not intentionally built at a slant, but it has leaned consistently for the last 400 years. Today, the base has been reinforced to prevent any further tilt, and the entire structure is one of the most iconic sights in Suzhou, in addition to being the oldest pagoda in the region.
The pagoda isn't the only attraction at Tiger Hill, though. Visitors can explore the city's largest bonsai garden, wander along canals and overgrown embankments, and gaze into the murky depths of the Sword Pool, which is said to contain the 3,000 swords of legendary warrior King He Lu.
Elsewhere in Suzhou, you can find a dizzying array of temples, gardens, and more from the area's more than 2,500 years of history. The city is also home to one of the most picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Sites and has been called the "Venice of the Orient" for the various canals and bridges that crisscross the city.
Church of Our Beloved Ladies of the Mountain in Bad Frankenhausen, Germany
The steeple of the church in Bad Frankenhausen was constructed in 1382 and has had a documented lean since 1640. Today, with an angle of 4.8 degrees, the spire's slant is more dramatic than the Tower of Pisa. Every year, moreover, it moves a bit further, thanks to the unstable ground on which the church was built.
Bad Frankenhausen, like other German cities whose name begins with "Bad," is a spa town. The saline springs that have made it a therapeutic destination for centuries are also the cause of the church tower's lean, as the underground salt has led to sinkholes that erode and shift over time. Aside from that unfortunate consequence, however, the springs and their healing waters have been a longstanding asset of the area and form the town's primary tourist attraction.
Bad Frankenhausen's geological rarities aren't limited to its salt mines, though. Nearby Barbarossa Cave, another of the area's popular spots, is unique for being an anhydrite cave, as opposed to the far more common limestone cave. These anhydrite rocks turn into gypsum, which creates unique, growing lobes on the ceiling, alabaster formations in the walls, and even crystalline underground lakes.
Outside Bad Frankenhausen, the surrounding region of Thuringia is known for its myriad cultural sites. From the medieval Merchant's Bridge in Erfurt to the luxury of Wartburg Castle, the area is a history lover's paradise.