A few years back, I made an Atlas Obscura submission for this wacky place in Greece – of which I have very fond memories of : I must have been 17 when I performed my first urbex inside this beautiful castle. I will always carry with me the excitement of scaling those walls under a full August moon. Still, I consider myself lucky I didn’t get shot at by the warden, sleeping with a double barrelled shotgun hanging on the wall above him while I toured the building with a torch at night, enjoying the shadow play and pumping on a huge adrenaline rush. Fact : the sea facing wall is well hidden from the nearby village and therefore a great place for kissing at sunset – but that’s another story entirely..
However, beyond the absurdity and undeniable kitsch quality of the castle, there’s the greater back story of the man who used his fortune, dedication and eccentricity to benefit this small corner of the world by leaving something special, almost personal, behind. Harry Fournier, I was always told by locals, was the weird, and a bit crazy, outlandish person – him being a Greek born American surgeon might helped in that assessment 60 odd years ago, you see – who built a useless, monumental eyesore. But then I also get the feeling that most of those who spoke thus have also been secretly proud of this unique, alternative landmark and still consider it a – yet unappreciated – part of their heritage. Understanding the concept of eccentricity, and how unconventional doesn’t always have to be bad, wasn’t a thing in the rural Greece of the 60s – and in many ways it still remains so.
And thus the always misunderstood and now abandoned Fairytale Castle becomes an object for the rest of us to understand and admire for what it is : A symbol of swimming against the tide and doing what you love, no matter what people say. Like the legend of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, it’s about becoming Conquistadors of the Useless, for the pure sake and pleasure of it and above all, for reaching out to and bonding with those who can appreciate it.
If you thought there might be a bit of explorabilia somewhere in all this, you’re probably right. Enjoy the full Atlas Obscura article here 😉