The great majority of the world’s most iconic and impressive structures took years upon years to complete, and huge teams of experts to plan and construct. There are limits to what one person can do, of course: Historians believe that the great Pyramids could never have been built with anything less than thousands of people. As technology progresses, of course, expertise is being channeled into the machines which facilitate building. As such, fewer people are needed to actually build certain constructions – the machines can do large parts of the jobs for us.
Some modern constructions, however, are so intricate and on such a large scale that it seems they could only have come into being with huge man power.
Yet, the following incredible buildings were each made by one very enterprising person. They may not be as grand as the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China, but they’re truly remarkable feats of human achievement. True, their construction takes much longer than it would with a team of people, but the result is astounding. The following constructions, labored on by one person, prove that there are few limits when passion and ability is combined.
10. The Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden was constructed by one elderly man, Samuel Perry Dinsmoor. He began to build the Garden in 1907 and halted in 1929 when he went blind. Located in Kansas, the Garden of Eden is a collection of sculptures that convey a wide assortment of messages. For instance, politics and religion both are found within the walls of the Garden.
A finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas, the Garden of Eden is a remarkable Sculpture Garden and popular tourist site. What makes it even more remarkable is what Dinsmoor accomplished on his own. He built a home first, using limestone logs, and then made 40 foot tall tress to house his sculptures. In addition to these constructions, the War Veteran also created a place for his remains when he died; a mausoleum for himself. It remains an important and popular art destination for the area.
9. Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain has been called many things. Bizarre and eccentric are common descriptions for the art site. Located in California, it is certainly an impressive site. Leonard Knight began construction on the Mountain with the Bible in mind. True to its title, Salvation Mountain has the message of “God is Love.” It includes religious scripture and messages as well as eye-catching colors and shapes.
The mountain was created by Knight as a kind of tribute to his religion. In total, the man-made construction is 50 feet tall and 150 feet wide and is made with local clay and donated paint. Leonard Knight died in 2014, however, his Salvation Mountain continues to attract countless tourists.
8. 3-D Printed Castle
This one-man construction is impressive both for its engineering and technological bearing. It was built using a 3-D printer and is the first of its kind. Andrey Rudenko has a background in engineering and construction work; he was also intrigued by the fairly new technology of 3-D design and printing.
To create the structure, Rudenko 3-D printed a mixture of sand and cement and put the castle together in his backyard. Although it didn’t take as long as some other structures, the castle is a milestone for the realm of 3-D printing and took much skill to build. Next, Rudenko plans to build a house with the technology.
7. Le Palais Idéal
Le Palais Idéal, or, the Ideal Palace, is the lifework of Ferdinand Cheval, a French Postman. The incredible structure was built by Cheval over the course of 35 years, from the time he was 43 years old. It began as a kind of accident. Cheval was making a postal round when he discovered a stone that spoke to him.
This stone was the first in many that awakened his vision and dream for the Palace. Over the next three and a half decades, the postman turned architect would create a structure of immense and intricate design. It remains standing today, and brings in tourists from all over the world.
6. Coral Castle
Edward Leedskalin, a Latvian American, reportedly created a sculpture garden in Florida single-handedly. Coral Castle, as it is named, was built over 28 years and contains stones that weigh several tons on their own. Myths surround the construction, mainly around how it was built by just one man.
While he created the Castle, Leedskalin did not allow any to watch him work, but some say he was able to build it using supernatural abilities. Teenagers from the area claim that they saw Leedskalin moving the massive stones; they say he somehow made them move like hydrogen balloons. No one is quite sure how they were moved and carved, even to this day.
5. The Watts Tower
The Watts Towers are one of the largest one-man construction in the world. There are seventeen constructions in total, and were built by one man: Simon Rodia. An Italian immigrant, Rodia bought the lot for the towers in 1921 and almost immediately began their construction.
While he worked, Rodia did not use more modern tools and techniques, such as bolts, welds, scaffolding or machines, rather, he elected to use only rudimentary tools. The towers took him 34 years to complete. The towers are also covered in glass, sea shells, tile and ceramics. In addition to their intricate details, the towers are also incredibly tall; the tallest tower stands at 99½ feet.
4. Filippo Bentivegna’s Heads
Filippo Bentivegna had an interesting life. A Sicilian native, he immigrated to the US in 1912, but later returned to Sicily disillusioned. When he returned, he was accused of escaping military duties, but was deemed mentally unfit to serve. Following these experiences, Bentivegna bought a plot of land outside his home town and began to carve the rocks on his property.
He carved these rocks into heads, and in total carved over one thousand of them. He said that he made them only for himself, even giving them names. For this, he was called Filippo di li testi, or, Filippo of the heads. Though the carvings were not considered great pieces of art while he was living, posthumously they began to become noticed. Currently, the heads remain on display as a tourist attraction.
3. Bishop Castle
Bishop Castle was built by Jim Bishop when he was 25 years old. Prior to this, the land for the construction was built by Bishop when he was only 15 years old. It was bought using saved up money, and his parents signed the land deal for him. After he was married, he decided to build a cabin on the plot of land, using stones in the area. What resulted was something far more impressive.
Jim and Willard alternated building the cabin. When a family member said it looked like a castle, Jim started really building it as such. Willard did not help with this part, but Jim continued on his own. Bishop Castle resulted, instead of a one room cabin that was originally intended.
2. Ra Paulette’s Caves
Ra Paulette has a passion for sculptural work, and decided to use this passion to construct caves. For 25 years Ra Paulette has been working on the caves, digging into New Mexico’s sandstone using only hand tools. Paulette only had a vision and passion for the construction of the caves.
He has no degree or experience in sculpting or architecture. Completely self taught, Paulette creates massive man-made caves covered in intricate sculptures. And he does it all on his own. The caves are centers of art that have drawn attention around the globe both for their artistic value, and their unique method of construction.
1. Don Justo’s Cathedral
Justo Gallego Martínez, a former monk from Spain, has been building this cathedral since 1961. It is not an official cathedral; it has no authority as such, yet it resembles one in many ways. Over the course of 50 years, the cathedral has been erected in Madrid, all single-handedly. Don Justo, as he is also called, has been using salvaged items to create the massive building for much of his life.
When he left monkhood due to illness, he began the construction on what would become his life’s work and passion. It was also entirely constructed in his head, with no formal plans. It is built with the idea of St. Peter’s Cathedral in mind, but does not completely resemble it. The Cathedral is not quite complete, yet it is still one of the most impressive and popular one-man constructions in the world.