High above the northern coastal town of Sosúa sits the twisted edifice of a singular artist’s bizarre vision. A tangle of cement, stone, and Caribbean artistry, Castillo Mundo King (World King Castle) is nestled completely out of place on a hillside in a quiet Dominican Republic neighborhood. Cryptic murals, sculptures, and architecture adorn its multi-leveled halls, making this an urban explorer’s fantasy.
A German immigrant to the Dominican Republic, Rolf Schultz arrived in Sosúa in 1990. Best friends with Poppy Bermudez, an Argentinian-born developer with close ties with the former dictator Rafael Trujillo, Schultz somehow acquired the funds to build his Caribbean Castle. He would spend the rest of his life completing the castle until his death in 2018.
According to living local artists, Schultz would describe his thoughts and dreams to local artisans who would then create corresponding murals and sculptures in a workshop on the lowest level of the castle. The process, along with the bizarre architectural build of the castle itself, would continue over the course of 30 years. The result is a towering, twisting, otherworldly castle that embodies Schultz’s singular vision. Filled with a mix of African, Caribbean, and modern art, the castle houses one of the most surreal collections ever curated.
Three years after Schultz’s death in 2018, the castle has fallen into ruin with the murals and sculptures inside. For just $2 U.S., paid to a seemingly random Dominican man named Juan claiming to be the curator, you are given free rein to tour the entire castle yourself. The pieces range from political (WWII bombers spread fire while skeletons dance beneath) to alien (spaceships consumed by demons) to downright disturbing (various sex acts between humans and animals).
The castle itself has five levels and is completely without power or upkeep. Descending into the crypt, all light is lost. Unseen creepy crawlers scurry about, wooden skeletons hang from the walls, murals depict death and demons. Above, the main courtyard is adorned with a host of strange statues flanked with twisting spires of the castle itself. The walls of each room are completely covered with murals, painted with an assortment of alient invaders, satirized famous art pieces, political commentary, and mythological beasts.
The sheer assortment of mystifying imagery combined with the warped architecture of the castle itself is truly disorientating. As you ascend to the second and third floors, the motifs only become more bizarre. St. Paul’s cathedral is consumed by fire while dinosaurs roam the foreground. A supersized rock star sings a ballad over a graveyard. Life-sized, cast-iron UFOs stand in the patio in the back. African wooden carvings depict a woman’s mid-transformation into a series of animals.
As you climb distorted stairwells to the fourth and fifth floors, the castle reveals an expansive throne room and an irreverent, borderline sadistic chapel. A peek through a window will reveal the ornate bedroom where Schultz slept amongst his abnormal creations. Clambering up crumbling stairs, the upper sixth story parapets of the castle offer breathtaking 360-degree views of the Caribbean Sea and town of Sosúa below.
The castle and art within may leave you confused, disturbed, or perhaps even inspired. Castillo Mundo King represents one man’s feverish, bizarre dream brought to life in impressive, tangible form. His legacy—a unique opportunity to walk through the physical embodiment of a singular artistic mind.