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Last weekend we headed out towards the town of Cayambe, about 45 miles north of Quito. The “fabled” castle we went to see, located just past the turn-off towards Hacienda Guachala, is well-known by many locals, and is far off the beaten path. It’s not fully completed and has been under construction for 10 years. Supposedly, the story is-like so many others-that the owner has run out of money without being able to finish construction. The owner, by the way, is a dentist from Loja, one of Ecuador’s southernmost provinces.
It’s not actually open to the public, but if you know the way up the cobblestone road to the gate and you offer the lady gatekeeper a couple of bucks, she’ll let you in. When we were there, at least 20 or so more visitors were also there too; the owner should finance construction by charging to come see it.
It’s a gaudy, ostentatious attempt at something like the Palace of Versailles, with a bunch of frightening and egregious Greco-Roman sculptures scattered throughout the grounds. These include a large chariot with horses, nymphs playing in fountain, Poseidon, Mermaids, Centaurs, and others.
Inside the unfinished main building, which is supposed to become a hotel, there are nude sculptures in the greco-roman style. But what really makes absurdly bad statues even worse, is that they are made of concrete and then painted in some olive green paint. The bodies are totally disproportionate and the detail leaves just a bit to be desired.
The buildings are located on several acres nestled back in the woods, which are increasingly rare in this part of the world. The whole place, despite not being abandoned, has that spooky, something-hiding-in-the-shadows feeling. The buildings are fully constructed, but there are no windows, handrails on the staircases, or finished floors, and the empty buildings echo. Birds are nesting in the cornices of the buildings, and trash lies scattered in some of the far corners of the rooms. Construction materials like wood, wire, steel rebar, and other items lie scattered about and the pace of deterioration is definitely outpacing construction, so it’s looking more old than new. Moss grows on the stairways at the building entries.
At the back of the property is an abandoned house with some interesting plants growing on the roof, and an area that looks like it’s been untouched for 50 years. Wildflowers grow abundantly, the grass is nearly waist high, and an adobe wall slowly crumbles away from the wear of rain and wind.