Arizona’s Mystery Castle is a true architectural oddity

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

On the outskirts of South Mountain Park lies one of the world’s strangest architectural creations. In a state famous for being the home of Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture, perhaps it is only fitting that Arizona also plays host to as weird a place as the Mystery Castle.

When Boyce Luther Gulley was told in the 1930’s that he had tuberculosis, he moved from rainy Seattle to sunny Phoenix to try to recover. Settling just outside of town, he began building a home out of things he found or could buy for very cheap. What resulted was an odd amalgamation of stone and driftwood, car parts and concrete. Perhaps the strangest detail is that the walls are held together by a mixture that includes goats milk.

All told, Gulley built a castle with eighteen rooms, thirteen fireplaces, arched entryways, and parapets straight out of the middle ages. It even has a chapel and a dungeon. Throughout the castle there are elements like tire spokes used to frame a window, and statues made of random materials. While Gulley died in 1945, he left the property to his daughter Mary Lou who soon moved in and made the odd wonderland her residence.

It is said that the inspiration behind Gulley’s castle was the sand castles he and his daughter used to build in Seattle. Tired of seeing his creations washed away, he moved to the desert to build a more permanent and lasting legacy. Today, visitors from all over the world can visit the Mystery Castle and it has been featured in dozens of publications. It has also been dedicated as a “Phoenix Point of Pride.”

When looking for things to do in Phoenix, Arizona, some of the best jewels lie off the beaten path. While there are splendid views to be found while hiking in the many trails throughout the city, visiting sites like the Mystery Castle can add a bit of wonder to your trip. And if you’re looking to truly get out into nature, there are plenty of options from ATV tours to guided desert explorations that you can check out as well. Regardless it is hard to run out of things to do in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area!

Taliesin

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