Tovrea Castle

Historic Building Fact Sheet

tovrea castle phoenix

Tovrea Castle illuminated by the late day sun. (Oct 2010) Photo credit: Jeff Brunton

Need to Know Info

Built1931
Address5025 E. Van Buren Street, Phoenix, Arizona
Coordinates33.4509°N 111.9732°W
Date Added to NRHPMarch 28, 1996

Originally intended as a hotel centerpiece for a resort, the wedding cake-shaped Tovrea Castle in Phoenix became a deteriorating private residence until massive restoration efforts transformed it into a vibrant public space boasting expansive desert gardens, architectural splendor, and a rich history now on display to all visitors.

Today, Tovrea Castle is operated through a nonprofit and city partnership, hosting tours and events as one of Phoenix’s most iconic and beloved landmarks.

The In-Depth Story

Phoenix’s Beloved “Wedding Cake Castle”

Tovrea Castle is a historic structure situated on 44 acres about 5 miles east of Downtown Phoenix. Completed in 1931 and built in the Italianate architectural style, the castle was intended to be the hotel centerpiece of a planned destination resort. However, it became a private residence in 1931 when purchased by E.A. and Della Tovrea. Though once deteriorated, the landmark is now part of the Phoenix Parks System after extensive restoration.

The property is named Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights in honor of both its original builder, Alessio Carraro, and later owners, E.A. and Della Tovrea. Contrary to popular belief, it was not built by Tovrea as a duplicate of his own wedding cake. The Tovreas purchased the castle from Carraro in 1931. After finalizing its purchase of the surrounding 44 acres, the City of Phoenix began efforts to restore the building and grounds to make it suitable for use as a public park. Significant work started in 2006 removing diseased vegetation, rehabilitating surviving plants, and replanting cacti and desert wildflowers. The project was completed by February 2012.

In style and appearance, Tovrea Castle resembles an Italian stone castle. It has four tiers built of granite, wood, and stucco fashioned like a tiered cake. The structure features architectural details such as parapets, Art Deco lighting fixtures, and LED lights along the rooflines and fences. Despite its medieval look, the building lacks true castle architectural features. Still, its unique design and hilltop location make Tovrea Castle one of Phoenix’s most visible and prominent landmarks.

Tovrea Castle is now operated through a partnership between the Tovrea Carraro Society, a local non-profit, and the City of Phoenix. The castle grounds boast over 5,000 cacti in 100 varieties and are open to the public for guided tours. The Society also hosts special events in the gardens and on the first floor of the structure. After years of work, Tovrea Castle remains both an iconic Phoenix landmark and popular community space for residents and visitors alike.

NRHP Reference #: 96000309