Did You Know: Phoenix Has Its Very Own Castle

September 06, 2013

The house was built in 1929 as a resort. After years of restoration, the castle that sits on a hill in the middle of Phoenix has become a visitors' destination, Tovrea Castle.  

castle The path leading up to the front of the castle. (Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)

It can be seen from nearby streets and freeways. The wedding cake-shaped castle sits on a hill. It is about 85 years old and it is part of the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation. Did You Know Tovrea Castle is designated a local and national historic property?

“This was originally built as a hotel. It was going to be a boutique hotel with the hope that people would fall in love with the desert and buy homes sites,” said Tamera Zivic, the vice president of the Tovrea Carraro Society, the group that operates the property.

On the drive up to the castle on a golf cart,  Zivic gives a tour of the property. Tovrea Castle was built by Alessio Carraro, an Italian immigrant who came to Arizona from the Bay Area. He originally purchased 277 acres of desert land around this hill and named it Carraro Heights.

Carraro and his son created the lush desert garden with thousands of cactuses around the castle. Over the years, the city of Phoenix has tried to maintain the original look.

From the castle entrance there is a perfect view of the valley. The roar of planes from Sky Harbor Airport and the hum of cars on the nearby Loop 202 surround the property.

“We enter the original door, and we enter an area that would have been a guest great room. It’s all art deco, original stencils, beautiful maple floors," Zivic said. 

Carraro developed the art deco, but the Tovrea’s enjoyed it. Carraro never got the chance to make his dream come true. After the castle was built, his neighbor, Edward A. Tovrea began expanding cattle pens closer to Carraro’s property to supply his national meat packing business.

Fearing the resort business would never take off, Carraro sold the property to the Tovreas. The family lived there until 1969 when Tovrea’s wife, Della, died. For 20 years the property was in the Tovrea family trust, until the City of Phoenix purchased it.

“The 1989 bond issue gave us some money to be able to make the first acquisition, which was the castle,” said Zivic. “And then eventually by 2010 purchased the last piece of property.”

The city of Phoenix has been restoring the castle and the property since 2005. In 2012, Tovrea Castle was opened for limited public visits. The official name of the property is Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights, in honor of the family who lived in it and the man who developed the land for it.

To tour Tovrea Castle visit the ticket section of the website.

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