You know the saying “a man’s home is his castle?” Some folks out there take it very seriously — setting out to build their own medieval fortresses. Carlos Zahumenszky from Gizmodo en Español collected some of the most fascinating castles, all with one thing in common: they were all begun as one-person projects.
Hay individuos que se toman muy en serio esa frase hecha de ‘mi casa es mi castillo’. Tanto que les …
Castillo de Cebolleros, Burgos (Spain)
Let´s start with a unique, modernist beauty: the Cebolleros Castle, or Cave Castle, in Burgos, Spain. Serafín Villarán started building it in 1978 on top of an old winery. Serafín died in 1998 without seeing the castle finished, but his family completed the project.
The castle is built completely from river stones. It has 5 floors and over 3,200 square feet of space. And it looks like something from a fairy tale.
Coral Castle, Florida
The story around Coral Castle is a mystery in itself. It was built by Edward Leedskalnin, a Latvian immigrant to the United States.
The castle is built using huge coral limestone blocks. Leedskalnin constructed it on his own, without any outside help. He undertook the project mostly at nights, which gave way to all sort of strange stories about the place and Leedskalnin himself. He finished building it in 1923, but took it to its actual location, stone by stone, in 1936.
Bishop Castle, Colorado
At the age of 15, Jim Bishop paid $450 for a two and a half acre parcel near San Isabel National Forest in southern Colorado. Ten years later, in 1969, he began to build a family cottage surrounded by rocks.
The Cottage grew into a manor and, since then, Bishop and his family have been working on this amazing mini-castle. Visitors are encouraged to explore the castle on their own as there are no guided tours. The building has an incredible amount of iron work — even the dragon head on top of the roof breathes fire on weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Photos: Wikipedia, under Creative Commons license.
Fidler Castle, Surrey, UK
This tiny but beautiful castle built in mock-Tudor Style might not be around much longer. It was built in secrecy by Robert Fidler and his wife on their own land. Unfortunately, they didn’t have local permission to build it, so they concealed the growing building behind bales of straw.
As soon as the castle was revealed, a legal fight broke out between Fidler and the local council. In February, an inspector denied the farmer’s bid to declare the building retroactively legal. Far from done, Fidler has vowed to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
** Unfortunately Fidler was made to demolish his beautiful castle by order of the courts in 2016
Taródi Var castle, Sopron, Hungary
The story of this family castle is similar to Bishop’s. Stephen Taródi bought a parcel near the village of Sopron in 1951, and began building a castle without any formal plans. First on his own, and later assisted by his family, Taródi’s castle now stands 65 feet tall, with 3,760 square feet of space.
The construction took 50 years. Nowadays, Taródi Var Castle is still inhabited by Taródi’s siblings. They kindly admit visitors curious enough to take peep inside.
Mistery Castle, Phoenix
After learning he had tuberculosis, Luther Boyce Galley moved from Seattle to Phoenix in pursuit of a better climate for his disease. Boyce began to build this strange castle in 1930 for his daughter Mary Lou. Boyce used basically whatever he found to build the castle, from discarded bottles to old car tires.
The building gained some notoriety and was even featured in Life magazine. After that, Mary Lou and her mother began offering tours of their now famous home.
Le Palais Ideal, Hauterives, France
Ferdinand Cheval was a French postman that stumbled upon some odd rock while taking a walk. Any other person would have just kicked it aside and walked away, but not Cheval. Next day, the postman began to stockpile the stones for a project, and 33 years later, the Palais Ideal was completed. The building has an out-of-this-world style and enough carved stone to make a sculptor drool.
Cheval’s final wish was to be buried in his own castle, but that is illegal in France. So he decided to build his own mausoleum in the same astonishing style. He completed his final resting place just a year before he passed away. The Palais Ideal has been a tourist attraction since 1986.
Eben-Ezer tower, Lieja, Belgium
This 109-foot tower is the strange legacy of Robert Garcet. Garcet was fascinated with the Bible, numerology and ancient civilizations, all reflected in the building itself. The roof is topped with four huge statues of biblical beasts, and the plans of the tower reveals many references to numbers with alleged mystical properties.
Garcet claims that he found a 70-million-year-old village buried beneath the construction site, where he discovered many fossilized species unknown to science. Today, the Eben-Ezer Tower hosts the Le Musée Du Silex (The Flint Museum), a place where Garcet displays an impressive collection of books, historical and biblical relics.
Photos: Wikipedia, under Creative Commons license.
Braylsham castle, Sussex, UK
Apart from being a orthodontist, surgeon, inventor and classic car driver, Professor John Mew is also a DIY Castle Builder. Braylsham Castle is a tiny but charming castle paired with a medieval manor. Both were built on an island also created by Mew and his wife in a quiet pond of Sussex.
Nowadays, Braylsham Castle is one of the most unusual and exclusive hotels in Britain. The place can be rented (butler, cook and maid included) for groups up to six people.
Chateau Laroche, Ohio
Also known as Loveland Castle, Chateau Laroche was created in 1929 by Harry D. Andrews, a veteran who named the castle after a French military hospital where he spent time recovering during WWI.
Andrews was also a boy scout troop leader. After spending 50 years building his castle with carved stones from a nearby river, this veteran willed the castle to his troop, the Knights of the Golden Trail. The Knights have managed the place successfully ever since.
Bonus 1: La catedral de Justo, Madrid, Spain
It’s not a castle, but it is also the insane and amazing project of only one man: Justo Gallego Martínez. After being cast away from a monastery because of tuberculosis, Justo begun to work in his own temple. At first, Mr Gallego built the walls with any kind of stuff he could find, and following a detailed construction plan found only in his head.
Spanish church authorities are still waiting to consecrate the building to La Virgen del Pilar. The Cathedral is 115 feet tall today, but is not a lone wolf project anymore. Justo is far too old to keep moving heavy stuff, so the elder builder is assisted by many enthusiastic volunteers. Justo’s Cathedral can be visited in the city of Mejorada del Campo, near Madrid.
Photos: AP Images
Bonus 2: Castello di Amorosa, California
Castello di Amorosa is a vision from a medieval dream nestled among the vineyards of Napa Valley. Although the designer didn’t built it with his own hands, he doggedly pursued its construction to honor his Italian ancestry.
That man is Darío Sattui, founder of V. Sattui Winery. After spending many years sleeping in a van to save money, Sattui struck it rich, and built the Castello in the traditional XIII Century Florentine style. The castle is a trendy and popular place for weddings and music festivals.