The Castle Made of Stones a Mailman Picked Up On His Route

From far away, Le Palais Idéal looks like a cross between a Cambodian temple and a Roman church, but up close it’s more like a Monet painting, with small pebbles and stones replacing the intricate brush strokes. Pillars, flying buttresses and grottoes carefully crafted of stones form the 85-foot-long and 32-foot high palace. It all began in 1879, when French postman Ferdinand Cheval tripped on a rock along his mail route. He picked it up and was so fascinated by its peculiar shape that he was inspired to build the imaginative palace. Over the course of 34 years, he endured criticism and mockery from his neighbors as he continued building. Pushing a wheelbarrow along his expanded mail route of 26 miles, he collected stones and completed the building with no outside help. The criticism eventually turned into admiration, and tourists began flocking to see the unusual palace, 30 miles from Lyon, France. Today, it's still a favorite tourist site.