France is packed with a number of lavishing palaces, but there’s one – Palais Ideal – stands out above the rest of architectural masterpieces. A French postman- Ferdinand Cheval- collected pebbles in a wheelbarrow during his 18-milepost route to create a lavish palace. He did not have any formal architectural or artistic training.
Left his school at the age of 13 to become a baker’s apprentice, Ferdinand Cheval ended up working as a postman in the Hauterives area.
The idea to create an intricate cathedral came to him when he stumped over an oddly shaped rock in his 30s. However, to fulfil his dream of constructing a palace did not materialise in a day. Cheval dedicated around 33 years of his life building an astonishing limestone palace, which is adorned with fanciful statues and completed with buttresses, pillars and grottoes.
He created this beautiful 33-year project without taking any outside help. It is written in his journal that he would often have to work well into the night, by the light of oil lamps, but nothing deter him to finally accomplish his mission.
The postcards he delivered and the teachings from Hinduism and Christianity inspired him to create an array of marvellous sculptures illustrating unusual animals and imaginary creatures.
The postman died in the year 1924; just one year after his palace was finished. His last request was to bury him at the mansion when he died. Sadly, it was not allowed to bury a brilliant architect at a local cemetery, in a mausoleum he built himself. The minister of culture proclaimed the Palais as cultural sight in 1969.
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