Many people are compelled to make things despite their informal (or complete lack of) training. In these cases, it’s often the result of an undeniable feeling of kismet or a vision they can’t ignore. Justo Gallego Martínez, aka Don Justo, is one of these extraordinary folks. At 91 years old, the former Trappist monk has spent the last 56 years constructing his own cathedral completely from scratch in Mejorada del Campo, Spain. This is despite the fact that he had no prior experience in architecture; rather, the cathedral is built on faith.
To begin the shrine, Don Justo first leveled the ground and mapped it out on site. There were no blueprints drawn, but rather, the structure is dictated by “opportunity and inspiration” and includes recycled materials and tools. Unconventional items are also a staple of Don Justo’s construction. Old gas drums, for instance, found a second life as building columns. They’ve help to form the series of dramatic spires and domes that all together, spreads over 24,000 square feet.
Although Don Justo is solidly a nonagenarian, he still actively works on Nuestra Señora del Pilar. Open to the public, you might just see him climbing scaffolding.