Park of Monsters in Bomarzo, Italy, is a surreal sculpture garden filled with frightful statues, created by a 16th-century Italian prince named Pier Francesco Orsini.

A Surreal Sculpture Garden Filled With Frightful Delights, Created by a 16th-Century Italian Prince

A Surreal Sculpture Garden Filled With Frightful Delights, Created by a 16th-Century Italian Prince

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Dec. 14 2015 12:30 PM

Italy’s Park of Monsters

bomarzo
The gaping maw of Orcus.

Photo: Alessio Damato/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons

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In a small town called Bomarzo, Italy, 42 miles north of Rome, the woods are full of monsters.

Created in the mid-16th century by Prince Pier Francesco Orsini, the Park of Monsters is a surreal sculpture garden filled with frightful delights. Much of the park's creation story is shrouded in mystery, but what is obvious is that the rough-hewn sculptures, carved directly from the rocky outcroppings, were most unusual for their time. Some have speculated that after returning home from a brutal war only to have his wife die on his arrival, the prince created the park as a way of expressing his grief. 

Left to ruin for over 300 years, the park was rediscovered by Salvador Dalí in 1938 and restored in the 1950s. Today, tourists roam among the giant stone creatures marveling and wondering about what dark influences led the prince to create his park of monsters. 

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