When you’re a tourist in a new city, visiting famous buildings and monuments to learn about their history (and maybe snap a few selfies) is part of the experience. But to locals, those landmarks can be sources of frustration. Whether it’s a sordid history or a flawed design aesthetic, iconic sites aren’t always beloved by the people who live around them.
Here are 10 famous sites that tourists flock to but locals can’t stand – or only recently warmed up to.
Montparnasse Tower — Paris, France
Architectural Digest called Montparnasse Tower “Paris’ most hated building” because of its imposing height in the city’s iconic skyline. Built in 1973 and standing at 59 stories high, the public outcry was so strong that Paris passed new zoning laws to prevent the construction of more high-rise buildings.
The building is currently undergoing renovations in order to appeal to the local population, including making the building more energy efficient, and adding green areas, according to The Local FR.
Peter the Great statue — Moscow, Russia
Comprised of 600 tons of copper, steel, and bronze, the 322-foot statue of Peter the Great was commissioned by Russian politician Yuri Luzhkov in the 1990s. Locals told the BBC they find it “disgusting,” “awful,” and “the ugliest statue of the end of the 20th century.”
The cost of moving the statue is estimated to be $US10 million, so it’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon.
Empire State Plaza — Albany, New York
The construction of Empire State Plaza in New York’s capital between 1965 and 1978 displaced 9,000 locals. When it was completed, people thought the design looked “forbidding,” and New York Magazine called it “a Daliesque nightmare,” according to Hudson Valley Magazine.
Local attitudes among Albanians have evolved into a “love/hate relationship” with the structure, according to Martin Daley of All Over Albany.
Vittorio Emanuele II Monument — Rome, Italy
Built in the early 20th century, Vittorio Emanuele II Monument has been given a host of nicknames by locals, according to Why Go Italy – “the typewriter,” “false teeth,” and “wedding cake,” to name a few. Italians consider it too large (it’s 230 feet high and 443 feet wide) and the wrong colour of marble, but tourists love it.
Centre Pompidou — Paris, France
Centre Pompidou opened in 1977 to the dismay of Parisians, who felt that the machine-like modern design clashed with the beautiful old homes from the 1400s surrounding it.
One Parisian woman was so angry about the building that when she encountered Richard Rogers, one of its architects, she hit him over the head with her umbrella, according to The New York Times.
But The Guardian reported that it eventually became a success, with visitor numbers at five times the predictions. Architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano simply said, “Making change is not easy.”
Palace of the Parliament — Bucharest, Romania
Romanian dictator Nicolai Ceausescu took advantage of a devastating earthquake in 1977 to flatten much of the city of Bucharest in order to build the Palace of the Parliament, displacing 40,000 people in the process, according to CNN. Every building within a four square mile radius was also demolished and rebuilt to match it, and much of the work was forced labour.
Ceausescu was executed in 1989, finalising the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, but the palace wasn’t completed until 1994. Today, it houses the National Museum of Contemporary Art, and locals give tours of the surrounding area to share their harrowing stories of living under Ceausescu’s brutal communist rule.
Sails of Scampia — Naples, Italy
Sails of Scampia, a series of housing projects, were built between 1962 and 1975 by Italian architect Franz di Salvo. They have been notorious for their obtrusive shape and frequent hosting of illegal activities ever since, according to IItaly. Director Matteo Garrone shot parts of his crime drama “Gomorrah” in the buildings, making the structures even more infamous.
Three of the housing blocks have already been demolished, but some will remain in order to be renovated.
Mount Rushmore — Keystone, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore was sculpted from 1927 to 1941. The Lakota Sioux Native American tribe considers the Black Hills sacred and part of their creation stories, and the mountain itself is known as “The Six Grandfathers.” They strongly opposed cutting into the mountain at all, and considered the carving of four presidents who condoned the genocide of Native American populations into the mountain especially offensive.
Despite their opposition, the landmark remains a popular destination – nearly 2.5 million people visited Mount Rushmore in 2016, according to the National Park Service.
Times Square — New York, New York
Times Square acquired its name from The New York Times’ move into Times Tower in 1904. In the aftermath of The Great Depression, it became known as a major center for drug trade, prostitution, and criminal activity. Rolling Stone called it “the sleaziest block in America” in 1981, according to the landmark’s official website.
In the 1990s, the combined efforts of Mayor Rudy Giuliani and investments by Disney in the area transformed it into a tourist-friendly destination. Local New Yorkers do their best avoid its congested streets full of slow-walking visitors and costumed characters at all costs, but it’s also a hub of Broadway shows and public transportation.
Valley of the Fallen — Madrid, Spain
Valley of the Fallen is a memorial monument in honour of the 40,000 people who died in the Spanish Civil War buried in the valley. It was built by political prisoners’ forced labour under the rule of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who is also buried there, according to The Independent. It remains a controversial site for Spaniards, some seeing it as a fascist monument and calling for the removal of Franco’s remains.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.