Castles in the Sand: 11 Inspirations for Beachside Builders

These monumental works of art demonstrate that beautiful architecture can be created in even the most ephemeral mediums.

  1. Saint Basil's Cathedral

    Sand Castle

    Saint Basil’s Cathedral, in Moscow, is a breathtaking piece of architecture. Its distinctive towers and colors make it a popular tourist destination, instantly recognizable around the world. But if Moscow is a bit too distant, then this remarkable sand replica will let you enjoy the cathedral's iconic design—at the beach!

  2. La Sagrada Familia Basilica

    Sagrada Familia Sand Castle

    This incredible replica of Antoni Gaudí's still unfinished Sagrada Familia was built at the annual sand sculpture festival in Weston-super-Mare, in Great Britain. This seaside resort is one of few places in the world that has near-perfect sand conditions for sculpting. Judging by this extraordinary miniature of Barcelona's biggest tourist attraction, conditions were primo., Grete Howard

  3. It's All in the Details

    Sand Art

    This sand castle, built near St. Helier, New Jersey, is proof that when it comes to construction, it's all in the details. The incredible attention the sculptor lent to this structure—patiently carving each miniature stone in the castle walls—renders this original design a true masterpiece.

    Flickr / Xlibber

  4. Size Matters

    Jarret Sandcastle

    Built by Ed Jarrett and volunteers in Connecticut, this massive sand castle was created using wooden forms. The structure weathered the elements for more than a month—no small feat when you're working with sand. At 37' 10", the Jarrett Sand Castle ranks as the tallest in the world. Its construction required 1.6 million pounds of sand and water.

  5. Tipsy Colosseum

    Sand Coliseum

    Danish scientists have found that for sand structures, the ideal water content for the sand is 2%—a ratio the builder of this gorgeous, stylized Colosseum must have known when he expertly distorted the arena to give us a glance at the fighting gladiators inside!

  6. My Precious

    Lord of the Rings Sand Castle

    Calling all Lord of the Rings nerds! This awesome replica of Gondor's stronghold, Minas Tirith, the location of one of the biggest battles in J. R. R. Tolkien's monumental trilogy, is sure to excite one and all—man, elf, dwarf or hobbit.

  7. Fairy Tale Castle

    Fairytale Sand Castle

    Many little girls dream of living in their very own castle. This delicately crafted sand castle perfectly captures that fairy tale ideal. Thinking of building a similar one? The pros suggest sculpting from the top down, essentially carving your castle out of a mound of sand.

  8. Sydney Opera House

    Miniature Sydney Opera House

    The Sydney Opera House has become a worldwide symbol for creative and distinctive architecture. Its innovative design was the winning submission in a 1957 design competition, which secured Danish architect Jørn Utzon a £5,000 prize and international fame. His design continues to captivate today, including (apparently) the creators of this impressive miniature beachside replica.

    Paulo Juntas

  9. A Cubist's Dream

    Modern Sand Castle

    Built by Calvin Seinbert as part of a series of minimalist, geometric sculptures, this is a sand castle creation on the cutting edge.

  10. Fishin' Shack

    Sand House

    What's a trip to the ocean without a little fishing? This incredible "Fishin' Shack" was made completely out of sand and boasts astounding detail, including the minute graining on the shack's "wooden" planks.

    Flickr / Jentim

  11. Hollywood Sign

    Sand Sculpture

    The Hollywood sign is one of the most recognized pieces of signage in the world. To replicate it is a big enough challenge, made much more difficult here with sand as the medium. This replica, however, is positively boffo, if we do say so ourselves.

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