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Mystery Castle, Phoenix
(3.8/5 based on 220+ reviews on the web)
Mystery Castle is located in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, in the foothills of South Mountain Park. It was built in the 1930s by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter Mary Lou Gulley. After learning he had tuberculosis, Gulley moved from Seattle to the Phoenix area and began building the house from found or inexpensive materials. Boyce Gulley died in 1945, and Mary Lou and her mother were notified by attorney that they had inherited the property. Shortly after, the mother and daughter moved in.Their story attracted attention, giving the home some notoriety as well as its exotic name: A Life Magazine story (January 26, 1948) used the headline "Life Visits a Mystery Castle: A Young Girl Rules Over the Strange Secrets of a Fairy Tale Dream House in the Arizona Desert." The photograph featured Mary Lou posing atop the cantilever staircase leading to the roof of the house. That same year, Mary Lou and her mother began offering tours of the home.ConstructionSaid to be held together by a combination of mortar, cement, calcium, and goat milk, the sprawling 18-room, three story castle is built from a wide range of materials — stone, adobe, automobile parts, salvaged rail tracks from a mine, telephone poles, etc. It features a chapel, cantina, and a dungeon. Parts of the castle remain unfinished, and electricity and plumbing weren't added until 1992. As the housing boom progressed in Phoenix, new development encroached close to the castle and its grounds, making it far less isolated.
A visit to Mystery Castle represents just the start of the adventure when you use our Phoenix holiday planner to plot your vacation.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • We debated whether to visit this spot due to the reviews on other sites (castle's quirkiness). Worth finding if you have the time. There is quite a story to the building of this castle and I just wish...  more »
  • As you would expect this is an very eclectic place, it costs $10.00 a head to get in. The staff is great and give a good tour and are happy to answer your questions. The view out of the valley is grea...  more »
  • Mystery Castle has a fascinating history and is made from some of the most unusual materials you will ever see in a home. Mr. Gulley, diagnosed with TB and only 6 months to live, left his family in Se...  more »
Google
  • This place is so cool!! The story behind it and it's history are one of a kind. You can read all about it, but it's so much better to visit in person and hear about it from somebody who knew the longtime inhabitant.
  • We had an awesome time visiting this little piece of Arizona history. The story behind it is both sad and amazing. The tour guides are so friendly and knowledgeable about the house and it's history. The views are beautiful as well. We really enjoyed visiting and will definitely be back again someday!
  • Wonderful true fairytale about the labor of love! Absolutely fascinating to gaze upon this piece of architecture and think that it was built by one man with a duration of 15 years in the making! My kids really enjoyed it and we will definitely return! One of those places where you see something new every time you go and we are fortunate enough to reside close to this castle! Historical Phoenix gem and the stunning views of South Mountain and downtown alone are worth the trip!
  • Enjoyed a wonderful backstory while guided through a beautiful stone mansion. The views are great over the valley while the artsy mansion is even more creatively unique. Insipiring and creatively uplifting little place to visit, definietly a Phoenix bucketlist item.
  • A little pricey but a very cool tour.