Jim Bishop is known for singlehandedly building his palace in the U.S., and it has become the biggest self-created architecture project in the world.
Over 6 decades and with no blueprint to guide him, Bishop built the palace as a result of his own expansive imagination and building style.
In one interview, Bishop said “I just build, I don’t measure,”
The palace, known as Bishop’s Castle was constructed on a 1-room cottage and used over 1,000 tons of rock from a nearby forest.
Visitors that tour the palace today are advised not to shake the rocks as no regulation was used so the rocks could potentially collapse.
Still, decades later, visitors arrive from all over the world to marvel at the human-made creation.
Why Did Bishop Build It?- It all began with a purchase of land when Bishop was 15 years old. He dreamed of building a family cabin so he and his dad went camping every summer to make building plans. Those plans stayed as dreams until Bishop got married and decided to implement those plans and make them a reality.
To continue his initial plan, Bishop set out to build a one-room cottage. He and his father had to work fast as the changing seasons would alter their plans. He constructed it from stone, including his 40-feet water supply. When neighbors would pass by, they would ask if he was building a cottage or a castle.
The neighbors’ questions sparked his imagination, pushing Bishop to want to create a castle. Bishop’s father had already finished the main cabin and said he wasn’t going to sign up for his son’s castle idea but encouraged him to build “his heart’s content.”
Bishop learned by himself how things came together. He dug foundations, chopped trees, and milled them into lumber. He created scaffolding and pulley systems.
According to Bishop, he would imagine a certain part of the castle he wanted to build, he would do it and then the next idea would pop into his mind and he would build that part too.
The second floor of his castle is marveled at by engineers as “one of the palace’s best examples of precision geometry.” The support of each trusse was large and hard to imagine being built and put in perfectly by one man. But that is what happened. The whole castle was built by the Bishop.
One of them would say: "Built by one man with the help of God."
One of the features was a fire-breathing dragon that was made of recycled warming plates and a donated hot-air balloon warmer.
As the months passed, the castle kept growing and more visitors would appear to see it. Bishop kept the visit free of charge and still today, it can visited for free.
Bishop made it a legal issue that the visit always remains free and nobody can ever charge admission. However, he did set up a donation box.
The Colorado Chamber of Commerce refused to list the castle as an attraction in their pamphlets because of a dispute between the state and the Bishop. Additionally, no insurance company in the state wanted to be responsible for this ongoing palace construction as the Bishop had no coddles attraction.
Today the castle stands at 160 feet tall and construction has slowed as Bishop got older. Bishop’s oldest son, Daniel, handles the upkeep of visitors to the palace. He put his own business on hold to help his parents as they move into the old age. Bishop’s wife passed away in 2018.
The palace wasn’t always a happy place. Bishop and Phoebe suffered from the loss of their four-year-old son, Roy, after a tree-falling accident. They have also gone through palace fires including a gift shop, which they had to rebuild.
Sometimes Bishop goes to talk with tourists. He sometimes goes on anti-government rants, as evidenced by the signs on his property, but he is truly humbled that people go miles from their homes to see his life’s work.
He added memorials to Phoebe and Roy inside and maintains he built the castles for others, not himself.
"Them walls, them buttresses, arches, towers. If there wasn't somebody to climb on them, be inspired by them, get married up there, and use them, and have fun screamin', hollerin', and climbin', there'd be no point in doing it, Bishop said. “It would be like the noise in the forest. Did it happen? Was there a noise? Oh yes, there was, but how can you prove it? Well, the castle's is proof."
Check out the rest of the photos: