The 5 Most Impressive Things Built by One Obsessive Person

Where would the world be without the efforts of lone, obsessed people with lots of time on their hands? Well, we'd be without most of the world's great inventions, books, political movements and religions, for one thing.

But we'd also be without some of the most gigantic, mind-boggling works of art the planet has ever known. Is any of the stuff on this list particularly useful? Nope. Is it all impressive? Absolutely.

#5. Madrid's Cathedral of Trash

What could motivate a man to spend 50 years building his own cathedral out of garbage? Is there any reasonable answer to that? And we're talking life-size here.

It's the work of Spanish monk Justo Gallego Martinez, who had a personal crisis in 1961, when he contracted tuberculosis and then got kicked out of the monastery. So he started building. What Don Justo lacked in blueprints, engineering knowledge, building permits and forethought, he made up for in enthusiasm. Thanks to local donations and daily visits to brick factory yards, Don Justo accumulated enough materials to build a church standing 131 feet tall.

Dubasdey via HuffPost
It doesn't even need God to smite sinners. Just a stiff breeze.

The church features cupolas made of plastic food tubs, columns made of oil drums and towers that are nothing more than stacked paint buckets. Don Justo works without a crane or crew, and no one wants to even know what's going on with the foundation or bracing of the building (he'll legally never be able to allow worshipers inside, for fear of creating an extremely tragic headline the next day). So far, the city council -- and gravity -- have decided to turn a blind eye, both out of respect for his convictions and because of the tourists he attracts.
This is God trying to bring it down with white hot religion lasers. He was unsuccessful.

Now age 87, Don Justo realizes that he may never live to see his project completed. But he has no regrets. Other than inadvertently building what might possibly be a gigantic death trap, we suppose.

#4. Solomon's Castle

Edmund Fountain via

When most folks say that they live in a castle, they're either saying that they have a big house or they're being sarcastic about how many hours they work at White Castle. But when Howard Solomon says that he lives in a castle, he means that he lives in the actual castle he built himself in the middle of a Florida swamp. Because where else would you put one?

Solomon started out as a junk artist -- someone who creates projects out of recycled materials. But he had a hard time selling his works made out of maxi-pad wrappers and old answering machines, so all his art started to pile up. Most of us would have just built a shed or a teepee or whatever; Solomon started building a castle. And he kept building until decades passed and his glorified storage closet clocked in at three stories and over 12,000 square feet. By the time he was done, Solomon's castle featured a dungeon:

Roadside America
"Folks don't often get to see this part without a burlap bag over their face."

This is where he keeps his women captive.

... and a Spanish galleon in the moat:
Well, obviously. That's where you keep your Spanish galleons, right?

Not to mention 60 custom-built stained-glass windows:
"This is what I like to call 'The Jimmy Buffett Room.'"

And the castle itself is as shiny as a knight's ass, thanks to hundreds of aluminum printing plates that make up the exterior.

Solomon's Castle via Forbes
The rainbow is made out of recycled pixie farts.

And the best news of all is that the whole shebang can be yours for $2.5 million!

#3. Roden Crater Observatory


When most of us see a giant old crater in the ground, we only think, "Man, whoever was within a hundred miles of whatever made this got fucked up."

But others see the potential for something great. So in 1979, James Turrell bought a 400,000-year-old crater (left over from an extinct volcano) measuring 3 miles wide so he could turn it into art. Turrell has been digging and pouring concrete in his crater for 30 years. The result is a surreal, 2001: A Space Odyssey-ian network of viewing galleries for visitors to gaze up at the sky.

James Turrell
Although to be perfectly honest, the sky kind of pales in comparison to the actual complex.

Eventually it will have over a thousand feet of tunnels connecting seven underground chambers. Eventually. There are frequent pauses, often lasting years, as Turrell finishes other projects and finds donors to support the massive undertaking. Several completion dates have come and gone, so, much like Half-Life 3, Roden Crater will open "whenever it's done."

James Turrell
That's not two photos slapped together, by the way. That's a single room designed to look that way.

And until then, the only people allowed at the site are Turrell, his workers and a handful of friends and top donors. So short of doing flyovers in your personal helicopter, you may have to wait a while to see this one.

James Turrell
And no, he probably doesn't realize that it looks like a giant's toilet seat.

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