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Into the Jaws of Doors: The Open-Wide World of 11 Mouth-Shaped Portals

Goa Gajah
The screaming face of Goh Gajah. (Photo: mastahanky on Flickr)

Have you ever looked at the face of another person and thought, “Man. I wish I could walk into their mouth.” Well judging by the abundance of doorways that have been sculpted to look like gaping maws, you are not alone. From ancient temples to abstract sculpture parks to whimsical bridges, we just can’t seem to help ourselves from creating entryways that look like humanity’s oral fixations writ large. Take a look at some more of the world’s most jaw-dropping portals.

 


GOA GAJAH
Ubud, Indonesia     

Goa Gajah
Those eyes… (Photo: Daniel Roy on Flickr

India’s Elephant Temple, has little to do with elephants but everything to do with the little shrine tucked in the mouth of a grimacing demon.


BUDDHA PARK
Vientiane, Laos  

Buddha Park
This door looks pretty upset for being in a Buddhist park. (Photo: Mark Fischer on Flickr)

The Buddha Park in Laos is a sprawling complex of Buddhist figures of all shape and size, but this screaming tunnel mouth inspires anything but peace and tranquility.


GARDEN OF BOMARZO
Bomarzo, Italy

The Monsters of Bomarzo
The altar in his mouth looks like a little tongue.  (Photo: Erin/Flickr)

 

The sculpture work in Italy’s “Park of the Monsters” ranges from classically-inspired to nightmarish. The beastly door leading to a little stone altar clearly falls in the latter category.

 
Notice the light red etching around the lips. (Photo: Alessio Damato/Wikipedia


GHOST CITY OF FENGDU
Fengdu, China 

Fengdu
Don’t roll your eyes at me, demon door! (Photo: Michael Lusk/Flickr)

Chinese folklore surrounding ghosts and spirits is elaborate to say the least. The Ghost City of Fengdu is a sort of amusement park centered on these beliefs, where a demonic gateway (like the one above) fits right in.  


ZUCCARI PALACE
Rome, Italy 

Zuccari Palace
The grumpiest door in the world. (Photo: pboduch/Atlas Obscura)

Alternately known as “The Monster House,” this 16th century mansion is covered in architectural grotesques surrounding all of the doors and windows. It seems that the intended effect was whimsy, but the result leans closer to horror.  

Zuccari Palace
The happiest window in the world. (Photo: pboduch/Atlas Obscura)


LA SCARZOULA
Montegabbione, Italy

(Flickr/FrancescaV.com)
Despite how this looks, this door does not turn its nose up at visitors.  (Photo: FrancescaV.com/Flickr)

La Scarzoula was originally established as a monastery for Franciscan monks, but after it was taken over by an artist in the 1950s it became a surreal sculpture complex. The surprise on this doorway’s face is probably not far from what the monks would look like if they could see their monastery today.


THE DRAGON ESCALATOR
Beijing, China

Dragon Escalator
This also has an exit that’s attached to the dragon… but that’s a different list. (Photo: Damien Day/Atlas Obscura)

Nearly every fantasy story involves some instance of escaping a dragon’s jaws, but this Chinese escalator thumbs its nose at tradition by asking visitors to walk right in.  

Enter the dragon
Cool dragon, bro. (Photo: Damien Day/Atlas Obscura)


DIAMONDBACK BRIDGE
Tucson, Arizona

Diamondback Bridge
Indiana Jones never made it all the way across Tuscon. (Photo: Bill Morrow on Flickr)

This Arizona bridge is shaped like one the deadly local snakes, a giant version of which seems a bit monstrous. Nonetheless anyone trying to cross the roadway that runs under its belly will need to mosey on between its massive fangs.


CATOOSA BLUE WHALE
Catoosa, Oklahoma

Smiling blue whale of Catoosa
That’s a mighty big smile for something that’s been abandoned. (Photo: Caveman Chuck Coker/Flickr)

From the Bible to Pinocchio, people have been dreaming of being swallowed by a whale for as long as we’ve known about the gentle giants. This abandoned amusement attraction has its mouth open wide to make those dreams come true.   

The whale's pond has gotten murky over the years
The belly of this whale isn’t so bad. (Photo: breeps/Flickr)


 

KINDERGARTEN WOLFARTSWEIER
Karlsruhe, Germany 

Kindergarten WolfartsweierLook out, kids! (Photo: presse.karlsruhe.de)

While a lot of the entryways on this list have been somewhat sinister, not all mouth doors are bad. Take for instance this German kindergarten that is shaped like a friendly cat! It still eats children though…