Places (not) known by AI

Gepubliceerd op 7 april 2023 om 10:00


Of all places in the world there are pictures on the internet, but of some more than others. Think first of all of the places where many tourists come, and also of the places that play an important role in films and series on TV. What's on the internet can also end up in the AI, but I've already found that only the truly globally famous places are accurately represented. Below is a sample from very well known to apparently not so well known. I have been guided by songs and events. There is no conscious pattern to its distribution around the world; I scraped together the examples from five months of experimentation.


New York

New York is almost the most famous city in the world, so we can indeed expect an AI to know the associated images well. A successful example on the right is Central Park in New York. I wouldn't dare say that exactly those buildings surround the park, but the park is big enough to make it true: it looks convincing.

Even with such a famous city things can go wrong if we ask for the Statue of Liberty in New York; suddenly it is no longer on an island in the bay, but in the middle of Manhattan.


Philadelphia is best known to me by Bruce Springsteen's song "Streets of Philadelphia", soundtrack to the 1993 movie Philadelphia. The towers depicted on the pictures are quite similar to pictures I can find on the internet. The facades on either side are in the style of other Philadelphia photographs. Don't count on accurate details.

New Orleans

I know Bourbon street in New Orleans (Louisiana) from the song 'Moon over Bourbon street' by Sting. Of the four images generated with Stable Diffusion v1.5, this one seemed to best capture the atmosphere of this street, according to someone who had been there. When I compare this with pictures on the internet, I have to agree with him.

Puerto Rico 

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory (look up what this means for yourself) of the US in the eastern part of the Caribbean Sea. In a search for mythical monsters, I tried to depict a chupacabra in the mountains of Puerto Rico. The stratification of green mountains corresponds well to reality. The plants are part fantasy. And no one has ever caught a real chupacabra, so who knows...

Middle East


We regularly see Jerusalem on the TV news when something is wrong again. The picture seems a bit greener than I'm used to, but that could be due to the seasons. The architectural style is certainly correct.


The pyramids of Giza in Egypt are accompanied by a sphinx that is just as old. I was unable to depict this as realistically as the pyramids themselves, so I left the sphinx out.

The Pyramids are at a considerable distance from the Nile, so that they cannot flood, as happened in the second picture. The risk of being buried by sand is actually much higher.



New Delhi is a big city, but on the internet it seems to be mostly known for its monuments; the rest of the city is little shown. In the generated image, I asked for a flooded New Delhi, hence all the water. It surprised me though that the boats in the picture below right look suspiciously like Dutch botters.


Japan is known for its temples and associated temple gardens. Few buildings are so famous that they can be accurately depicted; it is more the general style with curved roofs and walls/windows of rice paper shoji screens that show well.

An exception to this is Himeji Castle, a style icon of Japanese architecture. This one is rendered pretty consistently by the AI.

Tokyo is, of course, a style icon of its own. I was confused for a moment by the Eiffel Tower-like tower, but it turns out to really exist: it is the red and white Tokyo Tower, which also serves as a transmission tower. An attempt has been made below to represent Tokyo in Japanese ink.


China is such a large and versatile country that I have tried to generate very little of it. As a lover of natural beauty, I could not ignore the Zhangjiajie mountains. Visitors can visit Hunan Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

Another world famous monument in China is the Terracotta Army of the first Qin Emperor in Xi'an. At least 8,000 baked clay sculptures have been excavated and can be viewed. The images are all unique, but when the AI generates them, they start to look much more alike. (AI are not good at unique faces.)



Australia is on the other side of the world. Inspired by reports of disturbed Aboriginal art, I tried to make Koonalda Cave. The result below does give an Australian vibe, but it really doesn't look like the intended cave. After some googling I found another cave with a similar environment, namely the Buchan Caves in the state of Victoria. So the AI is a bit off.



A natural phenomenon closer to home is in Ireland and is called the Giants Causeway. It is a rocky stairway of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The exact construction of this natural phenomenon is not completely correct on the picture, but more than enough to be recognizable.


What would London look like with more solar panels? Just about like this. It is striking that iconic monuments such as Big Ben are simply crammed somewhere in the picture. Cranes also seem to be iconic for London, according to the AI.


The Mull of Kintyre was made world famous by the song of the band WIngs featuring Paul McCartney. Read the chorus and maybe you won't have to go there yourself to see if the image is correct: Mull of Kintyre / Oh mist rolling in from the sea,/ My desire / Is always to be here / Oh Mull of Kintyre. Whether the geography is entirely correct, I doubt, but the atmosphere is captured well.


Although not all Catalans agree, Barcelona is inextricably linked to Spain. And Gaudi's buildings are inextricably linked to Barcelona. I myself really enjoyed the architecture in Parc Guell. The rendering of its distinctive parts in the generated images is completely consistent with my memories, both in terms of color and architecture, as well as the environment and view.


'Winter in Hamburg' is a song by the Frank Boeijen Group that inspired me to generate the following picture. The atmosphere of a wintry Hamburg around the Christmas period is good. However, the church towers should all be pointed and not spherical as in more southern parts of Germany.

The Netherlands

Dutch places naturally have my special interest, so I have tried extensively to get a recognizable picture of a number of places.

Amsterdam is extensively photographed by tourists, but I dare not attach street names to the generated images. The general image of a canal house comes into its own.

Rotterdam is already much less well known. Here's an attempt to get a picture of the historic town hall on the Coolsingel. None of the four really come close, although all these buildings could be in the Netherlands. Apparently this building is not shared worldwide.

From Utrecht I tried to get a good picture of the Dom tower, but this was also not easy. It became a generic brick church tower, but never the Dom Tower itself. Then tried an aerial photo of Utrecht with extra green. Here too, all houses are a brick fantasy with a general Dutch atmosphere.

Delft is a different story, because it was immortalized by Vermeer. By referring to his 'View of Delft', something comes of it. Here too, the church towers are not correct and buildings are not in the right place, but the image comes close.

The world

Of course, the world has many more places, but depicting all of them I like to leave to others. Above all, don't expect too much accuracy outside the world's best known places. As Delft shows, it matters whether we can link a well-known painter or photographer to it, because that way we can make the result much better than shown here.

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