20 Destinations That Belong in Middle-Earth

J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was a massively influential piece of literature, one that assembled stray bits of mythology, history, cultures, and even other art into a wonderful, cohesive whole. These real-life locations look just like Middle-Earth (and the rest of Arda) in a variety of ways—whether they inspired Tolkien or stood in for Middle-Earth at the movies.

Sarehole (The Shire)

Tolkien's family was from Birmingham, England, though he was born in South Africa. Birmingham may not have the epic sweep of Middle-Earth, but the influence is strong. Consider Sarehole, the small hamlet where Tolkien spent most of his childhood. The lush green scenery is very evocative of the Shire. Nearby Moseley Bog is widely-held to be the inspiration for the Old Forest. The secret tunnels under Spring Hill College could have inspired Bag End, and the Sarehole Mill is almost certainly the mill at Hobbiton—young Tolkien could see it from his house.

(image via Instagram)

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