Since childhood, baker José Paronella had dreamed of building a Moorish castle.
In 1913, the adventurous then 26-year-old left his village in Catalonia and moved to tropical northern Australia. There, he eventually found wealth as a sugar cane farmer, and was able to pursue his dream.
In 1929, Paronella purchased a plot of rainforest in Queensland and began building his castle by hand, using sand, clay, old train tracks, gravel from the nearby creek, and wood taken from abandoned houses.
By 1935, the structure had expanded to include a pool, cafe, cinema and ballroom, as well as tennis courts and villa gardens with a grand staircase – all open to the public.
After Paronella’s death in 1948, the building suffered decades of neglect, but conservation efforts mean the castle is alive again.
Lush tropical plants have encroached upon and mingled with Paronella’s hand-built stairs and fountains, making them look like they sprouted from their natural surroundings.
Colorado, San Isabel National Forest – the heart of what many call Cowboy Country. Yet stray of the beaten path and you come across Bishop castle – a 160-foot high structure that weighs in at an estimated 50 thousand tons.
Incredibly, it is the work of a single man – Jim Bishop. Strangely though, if you are a tourist to the state, you will not find a mention of Bishop Castle on any official brochure.
That’s a shame because the place is magnificent. You might be forgiven that for believing that you had stumbled upon the home of the Colorado branch of the Addams family or perhaps a set mock up for a Tolkien inspired movie.
With the wrought iron, dragon’s head and formidable masonry it even has the look of a post apocalyptic stronghold for survivors. Yet it is a family home.