One day, Ferdinand Cheval, a French postman, came across a stone atHauterives near Lyon, and was fascinated by its strange, evocative shape.He spent the next three decades collecting stones, shells, and fossils,and used them to build the Palais idéal. Cheval's palace is one of many works of architectural fantasy in thisbook, the result of over 20 years' research by celebrated architecturalphotographer Deidi von Schaewen. Like Cheval, the creators of theseextraordinary worlds simply started building, with no rules to guide themand, in most cases, no previous artistic experience. These fantasypalaces, bizarre sanctuaries, and colorful sculpture gardens seldom followa plan. Often the artists continued building for many years, sometimesuntil their dying day. Their work is impossible to categorize: Art brut, architecture withoutarchitects, self-taught art, fantasy architecture in the tradition ofPiranesi, non-academic architecture, Outsider Art - none of thesedefinitions quite encapsulates this worldwide phenomenon. Eccentrichideaways like the Tour de l'Apocalypse in Belgium, the Junkerhaus atLemgo or the Owl House in South Africa appear alongside Simon Rodia'sWatts Towers, which dominate the cityscape of Los Angeles. To venture intothis world is to immerse oneself in the collective unconscious. The addresses of sites open to the public are listed in the appendix.