Baring a striking resemblance to the off-kilter cave dwellings at Cappadocia in Turkey, Casapueblo is a warped, archaic hotel on Uruguay’s southern coast that you have to see to believe.
The brains behind this eccentric masterpiece was Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, who was a a buddy to Pablo Picasso and Brigitte Bardot back in the day. In 1958, Vilaró purchased a sea-front property in the then-quiet town of Punta Ballena on Uraguay’s scenic eastern shore. What began as a small wooden lodge for Vilaró to reside in and use as a studio soon transformed into a sprawling compound complete with 70 different rooms and 50 adjoining apartments.
What stands today took Vilaró about 36 years to complete, with the artist regularly adding on to the existing house bit by bit. Vilaró referred to the house as his own “liveable sculpture” that’s both extraordinary, peaceful and awesome at the same time.
Possibly the weirdest part of Casapueblo is what Vilaró characterised as his “struggle against the straight line” – there are no straight lines anywhere on the property, instead the artist has creating curved ceilings and walls with concrete. The whitewashed walls of the building are reminiscent of cave buildings from Santorini, but Vilaró insists he was inspired by the region’s native hornero birds that are known for building mud nests to house their eggs.
The building has 13 floors, each stretching across cliffs and built without any structural plan. Rooms at the hotel aren’t identified by numbers either – rather, the artist has drawn symbols on each door, so get ready for a bit of mindless wandering around the compound just to find your room.
Known as one of South America’s best man-made wonders, visitors can enjoy a daily affirmation from the late Vilaró himself that plays just before sunset. Soft Spanish guitar echoes through the compound’s sound system with Vilaró’s voice reading out his own ode to the sun. The poem crescendoes at the exact moment the sun falls below the horizon – perfectly timed each day by the hotel’s staff. You’ll feel like you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole into some weird and wonderful world – it’s all pretty magical.
(Lead image: Felipe Tocchetto/Flickr)