MAIL ONLINE/UCAN REPORT
Labor of love has taken 50 years so far
Pictures: Mail Online
- Steve Nolan for Mail Online
- With its giant spires and magnificent dome to rival that of St Peter's Basillica, Mejorada del Campo's impressive cathedral looks like it has been skilfully crafted by a team of architectural experts.
It's impossible to believe that it has been single-handedly built by a former trappist monk who had never laid a brick in his life.
The as yet unfinished building, a little over 12 miles outside of Madrid, has been painstakingly built piece by piece over 50 years by 86-year-old farmer Justo Gallego Martinez.
He had no prior knowledge of architecture and no experience in the construction industry, but instead has spent five decades collecting junk and discarded building material in order to build the 131ft tall structure.
After working as a farmer and bullfighter, deeply religious Mr Martinez - or Don Justo as he is known - spent eight years at a Trappist monastery.
But he was forced to leave when he was struck down with tuberculosis in 1961.
During his illness, he vowed that if he survived it he would build a chapel and name it after the Virgin Mary to whom he prayed while he was sick.
True to his vow, Don Justo began building what he describes as his act of faith in 1963 and despite his lack of skills or building materials, is still working on the project today.
Despite the scepticism of many friends and locals, Don Justo has remarkably managed to build the place of worship without using so much as a crane.
The vast columns of the structure are made from empty oil drums, while the covering on one of the domes is made from discarded food tubes.
But, with Don Justo working on his own aside from occasional help from his six nephews, the cathedral is far from finished with windows left unpainted, one of the domes to be covered and the floor to be completed.
The inspiration of St Peter's Basillica with its huge central dome is plain to see, but Don Justo's ideas were also taken from the White House, and a variety of European castles and churches.
SHARED FROM UCAN/DAILY MAIL