Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Castle
April 18, 2014 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Gorgeous castle, abandoned for 20 years. And, interestingly, it's a variation on a Calendar House, with 365 rooms--one for every day of the year. No idea what they did about leap years. Tent, maybe?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering (16 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
That is beautiful. It would be like living in a kaleidoscope.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:23 AM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

a Calendar House, with 365 rooms--one for every day of the year.

I kind of want a Calendar House. Each room with its own book collection and art and color scheme proper to the tenor of the day.

Whelp, new Minecraft project.
posted by Iridic at 8:36 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I want a true calendar house. 365 of something (plus a 366th), 12 of something else, 52 of yet another thing, and 7 of something. Probably windows/chimneys/rooms/grand staircases.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:39 AM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Holy God that is effing gorgeous; thank you so much for posting this! God DAMN but I love me some Moorish architecture.

In fact, because I love Moorish architecture a ton, I went to the Alhambra in December, something I've wanted to do since I learned about it in Spanish class in high school. The Alhambra guidebook is FANTASTIC, really interesting and very scholarly, like a super awesome very focused textbook but in an amazingly good way. One of the ideas it presented is that Islamic architecture is very different from a lot of Western architecture because it has such different ideas of space; in Islamic architecture, a room is useless if it has only one purpose, whereas in European architecture there are a lot of purpose-built rooms (I think this is correct; any errors here are mine and not those of the Alhambra guidebook which is seriously one of the best things).

Anyway, apparently a lot of this differing conception of space can be traced back to the nomadic lifestyle led by the originators of this form of architecture; you have a central space, like a courtyard, and then rooms leading off of it, much like you would have tents around a central area in a Bedouin culture. I don't know if this is completely true but it's an absolutely fascinating idea, to be able to trace these unbelievably gorgeous, ornate, carefully planned spaces back to the cultural roots of living in tents and see how that lifestyle helped define how an entire culture thinks of space now and uses that conception to plan these phenomenal buildings and complexes.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:42 AM on April 18, 2014 [12 favorites]

Thank you Mrs P. Personally I like the idea of a middle ground between the two--a kitchen will always be purpose-built, as will a bathroom. Bedrooms too, probably. But I love the idea of having a house where the rest of the rooms are mutable, and change to the needs of the situation.

One needs a large staff for that, I think.

Also I suppose a true calendar house would need 24 of something (balconies?) to really round it all out.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:55 AM on April 18, 2014

see this sort of obsessive compulsive craftsmanship is the upside of extreme income inequality, so it's not all bad. how else could one afford all that tile-work?
posted by at 8:57 AM on April 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

There's an uncomfortable truth in that,
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:59 AM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

What a pity that in order to "save" this remarkable building, it will have to be returned to its status as luxury hotel for the 1%. You probably have a better shot at seeing it now, in its decay, than you will in ten years when it's been fixed up - unless you get hired to wait tables or clean the rooms, of course.
posted by Frowner at 9:09 AM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is where the 1% trips balls.

Someone please rewrite that sentence to sound like an Upworthy post!
posted by oceanjesse at 9:51 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love me some Moorish architecture

Not that this is that, really. It's "moorish" in the way LA architecture is "Spanish Mission" or Washington DC's is "Classical."
posted by yoink at 9:55 AM on April 18, 2014

Those vandals really went to town with all those tiles.... Just destroyed the place.

Whenever I see interiors like this, it always reminds me of why being rich doesn't necessarily mean having good my taste.
posted by Debaser626 at 11:31 AM on April 18, 2014

Interestingly, it appears that the Marquis Ximenes de Aragona (omitted by the site presumably in error) descended from a Jewish aristocrat who left Portugal (despite the name) in the 16th century, possibly expelled I would imagine. The family is linked to other grand homes such as Florence's Sangallo [it wiki] and the Villa del Monte and married into both the French and Italian aristocracy (unclear when the Jewishness became a non-issue but at some point it must have been).

It appears that the Marquis was inspired to some extent by his family's Spanish origins, but also quite prevalent ideas of Orientalism, and travel books showing e.g. the Taj Mahal. So an accretionist architecture rather than authentic.

As far as the hotel/resort thing, it looks like the only operational site in that chain caters to conferences and weddings, and after all a hotel is one way that the non-1% get to experience that lifestyle for a weekend. Historic preservation is fraught with compromises as you need to create a viable revenue model that will cover maintenance and other ways to ensure restoration is not obliteration. I think this is about the best option for a site like this and it will probably be able to sustain itself on the high-end tourist circuit due to its proximity to Florence.
posted by dhartung at 12:31 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Really neat rooms, and I'm super glad it's going to be saved, but some pics from the outside would have been nice as well.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:31 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

pics from the outside

A couple of sites with more pix: Italian Wikipedia page. Varese News. Panoramio.
posted by Twang at 12:13 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks Twang.

I really wish it had been saved as a national treasure for tourism rather than being gobbled by the hotel industry. What an incredibly beautiful place.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:10 PM on April 19, 2014

That is beautiful. It would be like living in a kaleidoscope.

Every Morning, This Stunning Mosque Is Illuminated With All Of The Colors Of The Rainbow
posted by homunculus at 10:11 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

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