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Big, bold, weird architecture sometimes pays off — especially when it comes to tourism. One of the most famous buildings in the world, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, receives over one million visitors per year, and they come as much for the building itself as they do the art it holds inside. Designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and opened in 1939, the curved building is iconic for its beauty and design achievement.
It's far from alone, though, when it comes to interesting and astonishing architecture. If you want to see other examples of fantastically out-there buildings, here are six more notable sites to visit around the world.
Casa Batlló, Barcelona, Spain
You'll find the designs of architect Antoni Gaudí all over the city of Barcelona. While there are numerous incredible examples that could make this list, Casa Batlló is a clear standout. This former residence sits at 43 Passeig de Gràcia surrounded by gorgeous buildings on either side, famous in their own right. You'll know Casa Batlló when you see it, though. Gaudí decorated the front of the house with a kaleidoscopic paint motif in blues, greens, and purples. Curving balconies eerily mimic the appearance of skulls while bones hold each floor aloft.
The inside of the house might be even more intriguing. Gaudi designed the entire building to feel like an underwater seascape, employing a sea-inspired color palette and wavy ceilings throughout the house. Light floods the house thanks to a smartly-designed lightwell. The pièce de résistance of the building might be the roof, however. Visitors can step out to colorful chimneys, a dragonlike roofline and panoramic skyline views.
Krzywy Domek, Sopot, Poland
You may not trust your senses when you first come upon Krzywy Domek. The name is Polish for "Crooked House," and it's an appropriate one. This building bends and twists to distort the idea of what a building should look like. Walls warp in and out, bulging in some areas and appearing to collapse in others. A roof of blue and green shingles tops the structure, looking suspiciously like the back of a dragon.
The end result? Something that looks like it came straight out of a fairytale. That makes sense, too, as the building designers wanted to pay homage to a famous Polish children's illustrator Jan Marcin Szancer. Inside the building, you'll find a shopping center complete with bars, stores, and restaurants. Our advice: Stick to the outside of the building for the best selfies.
Atomium, Brussels, Belgium
At first glance, you might think the Atomium is nothing more than an impressively large piece of beautiful sculpture. But what appears to be a giant atom molecule is indeed a functioning (albeit strange-looking) building. The city erected the Atomium in 1958 for Brussel's World Fair as a tribute to the power of science and, in particular, nuclear power. Reception for the building was so favorable, though, that city officials decided to keep it open long after the fair ended.
Today it's one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city. Visitors can enter the building's nine silver spheres and travel through the connecting tubes. In one of the spheres, you'll find a restaurant offering Belgian fine dining — the panoramic views of the city might be as spectacular as the food.
Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, USA
Book lovers, rejoice. There's a building made just for you sitting in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri. Even better? It's a part of the city library. Visit the Central Library on West 10th Street and stroll across to the parking garage for a pretty incredible sight — what looks more like a giant bookshelf than a place for parked cars, with book spines measuring 25 feet high and nine feet wide.
You'll find classics like "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Fahrenheit 451" among the 22 titles represented. Residents call the structure the "community bookshelf." That's because it was the community's input on the beautification of the parking garage that eventually led to the book-spine idea. It makes for a pretty spectacular photo background for any book lover visiting the area.
Cayan Tower, Dubai, UAE
Known for its jaw-dropping architecture, Dubai is home to famous buildings like Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. But there is nothing quite like this helical skyscraper towering 75 stories above the skyline. The luxury residential building — imagine waking up to panoramic views like these each morning — opened in 2012 as the world's tallest twisted skyscraper (later superseded by Shanghai Tower).
The tower rotates a full 90 degrees from top to bottom, and to achieve this, the architects designed each floor to rotate 1.2 degrees around a cylindrical elevator and service core. Soon it may not even be the most striking building in Dubai's skyline — a 80-story rotating tower that constantly changes shape is planned for construction in 2020.
The Piano House, Huainan, China
Looking for the visual equivalent of "music to your ears?" Then head to Huainan, China, where you'll find this impressive instrument-shaped building. Opened in 2007, the building is an accurate 50:1 scale of a grand piano and a violin, made entirely of transparent and black glass.
Architectural students at Hefei University of Technology designed the building in the hopes it would bring more tourism to the region. And it seems to be working. In addition to an influx of tourists, the site has become a popular place for wedding photos. Inside the building, accessed by elevators in the violin portion, there are concert halls and rehearsal spaces for musicians. There are also displays of different government-planned projects aimed at — you guessed it — promoting additional tourism in the region.