Palais Ideal du Facteur Cheval
"Le Palais Ideal," means the Ideal Palace. Ferdinand Cheval, a postman, built this Palace over a period of 33 years of his life. It is located in Hauterives, in the southeastern part of France and is made out of hardened sandstone. Today it is a cultural landmark and protected as such. An unassuming, untrained Postman, Cheval did not know anything about construction or architecture. This is an amazing story.
Here's Cheval's story and how he came to build this wonderful place. In 1879, he was walking quickly through an area when his foot caught on something that caused him to stumble. He discovered it was a strangely shaped stone and captured his curiosity, so he took it home with him.
Cheval went back the next day, and gathered more stones in the same spot. He learned the stones were sandstones, that were shaped by water and overtime became very hard. He decided, "since Nature is willing to do the sculpture, I will do the masonry and the architecture."
Years previous to this discovery of Cheval's, he had a dream about building a palace. Then, 15 years later, he stumbles over these rocks and his dream comes back to him. He was so obsessed with building this palace, he spent 33 years working on it.
As a postman, he often came across these rocks and would pick them up and use them in constructing the Palais. He built the outer walls first, using lime, mortar and cement to adhere them together.
In time, other artists such as Picasso and Breton began to openly appreciate Cheval's work. The Palais was inspired by the different religions such as Christianity and Hinduism. People wrote about Cheval and his project and, although this architecture is unusual and different from anything I've ever seen, it was a labor of love and is a work of art.
About a year before Cheval died, he built his own mausoleum in the Hauterives cemetery. It was built similarly to the Palais and he was buried in it in 1924.
The Ideal Palace Website describes Ferdinand Cheval as follows: "Ferdinand Cheval aka Facteur Cheval (1836-1924) was a postman who built his dream : Le Palais Idéal. An amazing and imaginary castle. Stone by stone, he imposed this harsh discipline on himself to show that willpower could triumph over all manner of physical and mental difficulties, and also achieve a more perfect understanding of the nature of things and the nature itself."
On an inscription on one of the walls states it took "more than 10,000 days or 93,000 hours over the period of 33 years" to finish. Talk about dedication and inspiration. He had it.
A wonderful quote from Cheval: "Whatever your age, whatever your wish to achieve, if you are courageous, persistent and hard-working, you are sure to succeed."