Europe's Most Unique Cinemas

With a rich history in film, Europe is the perfect place to explore some unique cinemas. We’ve picked some of the best for you to visit.

Kino International in Berlin. Photo credit: Kino International

I love a trip to the cinema. Since its inception, film in Europe has played the lead in a variety of roles, such as recording significant historical events, reflecting changes in society, artistic purposes and even propaganda.

With such a rich and vibrant history, Europe is the best place to explore some of the world's most unique and interesting cinemas. I've chosen some of my favourites, for you to explore on your next road trip around this magnificent continent.

Kino International - Berlin, Germany

Berlin's cinemas range from small-scale screenings in basements, to grand outdoor screens with audiences sprawling across fields of green. One cinema within the city that particularly stands out to me, however, is Kino International. This preserved heritage building stands today as a reminder of East Germany's socialist past, and is a fantastic structure to behold.

The stunning foyer at Kino International, Berlin
The stunning foyer at Kino International, Berlin

Just down the road from Alexanderplatz in central Berlin, the building's sandstone walls are decorated with authentic hand-painted film posters, and inside you'll find grand chandeliers and plush red seating. The cinema has become the place for glamorous events, whether they be hip parties or film premieres, and the cinema regularly shows films in English, for those of you who don't speak German. Whenever I visit this cinema, I feel like I've stepped back in time.

La Pagode - Paris, France

Paris is home to myriad cinemas, and I've visited as many of them as I can! Choosing just one was a really tricky task, but La Pagode stands out from the rest for its individuality. Of all the movie theatres in France's capital, La Pagode is the most unique. You'll find this gem at the corner of Rue Monsieur and Rue de Babylone, and it has become a favourite with local lovers of film, who flock here to see experimental cinema.

La Pagode - Paris, France
La Pagode - Paris, France

Established at a time when Japanese art was thriving in Paris, La Pagode developed to become a cinema in 1931, and the building is decorated with dragons and artefacts that have been imported directly from Japan. The screening room is stunning, with beautiful wallpaper and carved wooden detailing. Enjoy a drink in the beautiful Japanese-style gardens after the film, to get the full experience.

La Cineteca Matadero - Madrid, Spain

A former slaughterhouse, this building has been converted to create a vast screening and exhibition space, and today it's home to two cinema screens, a film archive, television studio and canteen, as well as an outdoor area for summer screenings. Throughout the inside of the building, fascinating basket-like structures are placed in each room, and are dimly lit to create a stimulating setting.

When I first visited Cineteca I spent hours walking around each room. The dark carpeting beneath the woven baskets causes them to appear as if floating, and the structures that line the screening rooms draw your gaze directly towards the screen. Other spaces feature dark wood and exposed brick, for a very contemporary feel. If you're into architecture, you'll love this place!

Cinematek - Brussels, Belgium

Also known as the Royal Belgian Film Archive, Cinematek is a must-see cinema, especially for film lovers like me. The building was renovated fairly recently, but was originally founded in the 1930s. Here you'll find screenings of classic movies, cult films and even works by up and coming directors. There's also a reading room, which is home to thousands of international film journals and books for you to explore.

Cinematek - Brussels, Belgium
Cinematek in Brussels has a fairly unassuming exterior, but what lies within is pure magic

Personally, I love coming here to watch classic movies, as these nights can be busy and I love the exciting atmosphere, but Cinematek shows more recent films, too. What makes this cinema unique is its comprehensive collection of European films from throughout history, as well as special screenings such as the mute sessions, where you can watch silent movies with live piano playing - a really authentic experience.

Inspired by this list of unique cinemas?

With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle you can get from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, so make a note of these unique places and add them to your itinerary!