Minecraft, the best-selling video game of all time, has been around for more than a decade. The procedurally generated survival sandbox is constantly evolving, playing host to everything from speedrun challenges and political dramas to lessons. But it’s best known as digital Lego— and it’s seen some incredible creations over the years.
Inventive and gifted builders, often working in teams, craft reconstructions of real-life buildings, fantasy or sci-fi settings, and even whole cities. For most, it’s a time-consuming hobby, but a few have parlayed their passion into a professional career. Here are some of the most spectacular Minecraft creations that took years to build.
J. R. R. Tolkien arguably created the greatest of all epic fantasy worlds. Fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy have recreated some of the highlights of Middle-Earth in Minecraft form. There are so many impressive builds in Minecraft Middle-Earth, from Helm’s Deep to Isengard to the mines of Moria, it’s hard to choose a favorite, but Minas Tirith is truly breathtaking. Around nearly as long as Minecraft itself, the map now covers an area equivalent to Dallas, Texas. You can join the server as an adventurer, get a guided tour and learn the lore, or sign up as a builder to work on expanding the world.
Heavily influenced by the Pacific Northwest, this modern city combines elements of Vancouver and Seattle, though you can also find references to New York. It’s a gorgeous,sprawling build with distinct commercial, residential, and industrial districts surrounded by beautiful countryside. There are some landmarks here, including the Space Needle, and the imposing skyline features countless skyscrapers. Devised and constructed by a Finnish architecture student named Matias, Mattupolis has been redesigned and reorganized several times since its original release a decade ago and is still growing.
This enormous fictional city, inspired by Los Angeles, is extraordinarily detailed. It’s not the prettiest of maps, but what Greenfield lacks in looks it makes up for in scale, and most of the realistic-looking buildings boast fully modeled interiors you can explore. There are beautiful beachfront apartments, skyscrapers, and even a football stadium. But Greenfield is a warts-and-all city, so you’ll find busy docks, an industrial zone, and some shady neighborhoods too. Designed on a 1:1 scale, where each block is equivalent to 1 meter, it has an authentic metropolitan feel. The city is all about exploration, and there are several weird and wonderful easter eggs to discover. It’s still growing, and you can apply to help at the Greenfield website.
The Uncensored Library
Conceptually, this is our favorite Minecraft, build because it gives journalists battling against repressive regimes a place to make their voices heard. The Uncensored Library features news from countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Vietnam, and Egypt. This vast working library is constantly growing and offers many books, even some music discs to play while you read. It’s not the best format for long reading sessions, but you can dip in and find important articles about the state of press freedom and what oppressive regimes are doing. Built by Blockworks, a team of professional Minecraft builders for hire, it’s also an interesting structure to explore.
Witchcraft and Wizardry
Designed by The Floo Network, the inspiration for this build is no mystery. The Witchcraft and Wizardry map brings the world of Harry Potter to life with locations like Hogwarts and Diagon Alley painstakingly realized block by block. The original was simply a map to download and explore, but the makers continued working to create an adventure map that allows you to experience the magic of J. K. Rowling’s famous books. It features several characters to meet, proper cut scenes, a storyline, and plenty of side quests.
Fans of Game of Thrones can visit Winterfell, King’s Landing, Highgarden, and many other places mentioned in George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series in the vast WesterosCraft map. Under construction for close to a decade, this map covers a staggering 485 square miles. We first visited WesterosCraft in 2013, but it has been revamped and has grown significantly since then. Even after the disappointing ending to the wildly popular TV show, WesterosCraft still has a very active community. The eventual aim is to build every city, castle, and landmark that encompasses Westeros—all 500 of them!
Cyberpunk 2077 caused a stir for all the wrong reasons and failed to impress, but the game does feature a gorgeous futuristic city that serves as the inspiration for this astounding map. Built by a French team, Elysium Fire, this glowing neon megacity has incredibly tall and densely packed skyscrapers awash in lights, holograms, and billboards. The scale of the Cyberpunk map and the skill of the building team can hardly fail to impress. Fans of CD Projekt Red, the developer behind Cyberpunk and The Witcher games, owe it to themselves to check out Elysium Fire’s Novigrad map too.
The Kingdom of Cipher
It’s tough to choose a map from visionary builder Circleight, because she produces some truly astounding builds with complex constructions and incredible colors. The Kingdom of Cipher might just be the most memorable. It features nine pillars representing different gods or goddesses standing before an incredibly ornate cathedral. A flying dragon, or “soul serpent,” ferries the souls of the dead across the sky. This ethereal world is amazingly vibrant and packed with little details that make it a joy to explore. Circleight passed away last year, but her wonderful creations live on in Minecraft.
The home of deities like Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and Aphrodite, Mount Olympus is an important place in Greek mythology. Olympus builds are common, but this map, from the German ChaosOlymp team, stands out. It takes some inspiration from the game God of War. There are countless details beyond the massive statue of Poseidon that make this map fun to fly or walk around. It’s not very big compared with others on this list, but it’s a terrific piece of sculpture that nails the essence of Olympus.
Riffing on the Cosmic Turtle, which carries the world on its back, the Atropos map is a beautifully imaginative build. It has an industrial, steampunk-feel with cogs, machines, and canons amid medieval buildings, all crammed onto the back of an enormous clockwork tortoise. It is impressive enough as a sculpture, but you can also go inside and explore the fully built interiors. The work of Minecraft builder carloooo, you can see how Atropos evolved from sketches and learn more about the concept at Planet Minecraft. It also happens to be a great place to discover more inspiring builds.
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