Usually when someone asks “Do you want to see something really unique?” you really don’t think that what they have to show you is really going to be ‘unique’. That was my thinking anyway when my dad asked me that question while out driving through Colorado recently. Playing along, I said “Sure” and about a half an hour later after winding our way through the twisty turning roads through the mountains he pulled off the side of the road in front of what truly qualifies as a unique building. The building is known as Bishop Castle.
Before I say what really makes this place truly unique, take a look at some of the photos of this place.
This place is big. The tower on the left rises up to a height of over 160 feet, and you can go up to the upper parapets via a series of spiral staircases.
If you go up the staircase shown in the picture above you will find yourself at a side entrance to what I refer to as the great hall. If this building consisted of just this room alone it would be impressive. The room is built like the interior of a cathedral with a large vaulted ceiling and with stained glass windows on each end. I estimate the peak of the ceiling in this room to be about 30 to 35 feet high. The ceiling is supported by dozens of braces made of ornamental scroll work along with the giant stone arches that converge at the center of the ceiling.
The site is open for free to the public (with some exceptions) and is open all year long. They do have a place to make donations to help further the construction and development of the property. They also allow weddings to be conducted in the great hall – again for a small donation fee.
If the great hall wasn’t impressive and unique enough; on the front of the building at the peak of the great hall is a metal dragon’s head made of stainless steel – and it breathes fire through the installation of a burner from a hot air balloon mounted inside of it.
I’ve saved the most interesting piece of information for last. This whole place was built by hand by it’s owner Jim Bishop. The whole story of it’s construction can be found online at their website: http://www.bishopcastle.org The short version is that Jim Bishop started building the place when he was 15 years old, and over the last several decades has been slowly adding onto the castle as time, weather and funding has allowed. There have been setbacks along the way from various fights with the local governing bodies, and there are signs located on the property that give Mr. Bishop’s opinion on the matter.
Politics aside, this building definitely fits the description of unique and I’m glad that my dad took the time to show it to me. I only regret that this place is so far from my home town; because I can see a ton of potential for some astonishing portrait opportunities in and around this quirky castle in the woods; especially in the great hall with all of the natural light that floods that room at different times of day.