Alessio Carraro, an Italian immigrant, envisioned a luxury hotel as the cornerstone of his high-end subdivision, Carraro Heights. Between 1928 and 1930, he and his son built the hotel in just fourteen months. The structure was stunning, with Italian architecture and is a three-tiered pine wood and stucco structure that bears a striking resemblance to a typical wedding cake, earning it the nickname “The Wedding Cake” among locals.
The castle’s architecture is historically diverse and romanticized European, with parapets covering each tier’s roofline. Additionally, LED and incandescent light bulbs are scattered around the roofs and fences to illuminate the castle at night. It never opened, perhaps due to the stench from the nearby Tovrea meatpacking stockyards, or perhaps due to the Great Depression.
Carraro sold his castle and 42 acres to stockyard magnate Edward Ambrose Tovrea, who converted the huge hotel into a private home. Tovrea died in the castle after just a year and is commemorated by a massive steel pyramid on the grounds. Della, his widow, lived there until she died in 1969.
Tovrea Castle has created a mystique over time. The isolated mansion and its acres of desert gained a lot of attention as Phoenix expanded outward and the land surrounding the castle developed into a metropolitan area. The land (which had become derelict) was acquired by the City of Phoenix after Della’s death. The building was rebuilt, the cactus garden was replanted, and the grounds were redesigned.
The Castle is the site’s main attraction. It is a four-story, 5,000 square foot architectural marvel situated atop the granite-rich property’s highest point. Groomed cactus gardens and undisturbed natural Sonoran Desert flora provide scenic backdrops and viewing opportunities along the developed trail system.
The castle is easily visible from the surrounding area, and drivers on Loop 202, in particular, have a spectacular view of it. As a result, the castle has become one of the city’s most famous landmarks and has piqued the interest of Valley of the Sun residents. It is a Phoenix Point of Pride, an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Thanks to its unusual position – now in the center of the Phoenix metropolitan area – accessible to all, but secluded by the forty-four acres of protected desert surrounding the building – the “Castle” continues to pique the interest of passersby.
Phoenix, Arizona is blessed to be the home of so many amazing historical landmarks. Here’s a short list of our favorites:
- Camelback Mountain
- Arizona State Fair
- Heritage Square Phoenix
- Chinese Cultural Center
- Canaan in the Desert
- Gila River War Relocation Center
- Hunt’s Tomb
- Steele Indian School Park
All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location located at 7319 North 16th Street in Phoenix, Arizona! Stop by for a visit anytime!
By Azwatchdog – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5816262