PARIS, FRANCE-A French postman Ferdinand Cheval who devoted 33 years of his life building an incredible limestone palace complete with pillars, buttresses and grottoes.
More than 120,000 people travel to the commune of Haut rives in southeastern France every year to see the “Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval”, a stunning palace constructed from hand collected pebbles.
Formerly called “The Temple of Nature,” the man made marvel was built one stone at a time from thousands of pebbles that he collected for 33 years. He combined the stones with mortar and limestone to create the perfectly detailed castle although he had no formal architectural and artistic training.
At 26 meters long and 12 meters high and 14 meters long on the other, the palace is complete with pillars, buttresses, a terrace, and animals constructed from the postman’s memories of the postcards he delivered every day.
The palace has a fascinating history. When Cheval was 43 years old, he stumbled across an oddly shaped rock while delivering mail on the same 18 mile route he took through Haut rives every day.
He was so captivated by the rock’s shape that he put it in his pocket and took it home.
“It was a stumbling block shape so curious that I put it in my pocket to admire at my ease I thought: since nature wants to do sculpture, I will do the masonry and architecture,” Cheval wrote in his paper.
That day began the next 33 years he spent collecting uniquely shaped pebbles to construct his palace, carrying them home first in his pants pockets and sooner or later in a wheelbarrow before beginning work alone whole night with an oil lamp for light.
Since then, it has been a valued destination for visitors and a famous site for concerts by popular musicians during the end of June and July.
But Cheval’s work with the pebbles did not end at his palace. You can also see the tomb he built for himself at the age of 78, known today as “The tomb of silence and endless rest.” The tomb is located 1 kilometer from the palace and free for visitors to see.
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