Photograph from Facteur Cheval
Wow. Just wow.
Photograph from Tangle’s Bones
This is the masterpiece of Ferdinand Cheval, a rural postman from a town just south of Lyon. He had no artistic or architectural background, he was just really, really talented! Apparently his idea began when he tripped over an unusually shaped pebble, and from there he began collecting small stones on his postal route, starting with filling his pockets, then baskets, and finally a wheelbarrow. Starting in April 1879, he spent the next 33 years building his amazing palace by hand, often at night by oil lamp.
His had hoped to be buried inside his palace, but when his wish was denied, he decided to build himself an equally extravagant mausoleum, and he was laid to rest there in 1924, aged 88.
Photograph from Wikipedia
This is definitely somewhere that I have to see for myself. The detail is incredible, and I love the dramatically different sources of inspiration. He claimed that the tutelary spirits of the place were Julius Caesar, Archimedes and Vercingétorix. Among the various detailed monuments scattered across the palace, there is a Hindu temple, a Swiss cottage, the Maison Carrée in Algiers, an Arab mosque, and Egyptian tomb, Oriental pagodas and a Medieval castle. The three giants have faces reminiscent of the Easter Island heads.
I have to go there this summer and see it for myself.
Information on visiting the Palais Ideal can be found here.