“A network of catacomb gardens!”
Fresno's best kept secret, The Forestiere Underground Gardens. Built over a century ago. A hand-built network of underground rooms, courtyards and passageways reminiscent of the ancient catacombs. Unique fruit producing trees, shrubs, and vines growing underground -- some over 90 years-old... -Ancient Roman architecture - arches, vaults and stone-built walls -Underground micro-climates -- temperature variations of 10 to 30 degrees -Underground home of Sicilian visionary and self-taught artist/builder Baldassare Forestiere The Underground Gardens are the life-long devotion and hobby of Baldassare Forestiere (1879-1946), a Sicilian immigrant who came to America in 1901 to escape the iron rule of his wealthy father and pursue his own dreams. The Gardens are a subterranean complex of patios, grottos, and garden courts interconnecting with passageways that encircle the living quarters of the self-taught artist and builder who sought to escape the brutal heat of Fresno summers. Forestiere patterned his underground world after the ancient catacombs, which he so admired as a boy. Arches and passageways dominate the underground landscape while the stonework provides stability and beauty. But unlike the dark catacombs that protected the remnants of the lifeless, Forestiere designed well-lit courtyards and grottos to bring forth the radiance and vitality of life. No plans were put on paper; each room and passageway originated in Forestiere’s mind as he worked. With the simple tools of a farmer—a pick, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow—the young immigrant dug, chipped, and carved the unforgiving hardpan land for 40 years (1906-1946) in his spare time. By the time he was 44 years-old, he had excavated and planted over 10 acres. But the humble immigrant’s genius did not stop there. Incredibly, Forestiere planted multiple varieties of fruit-bearing plants at different underground levels. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits—many on a single tree—as well as more unusual varieties like kumquat, loquat, jujube, strawberry, quince, and dates could be easily plucked from the surface by simply bending down. Wine and table grapes also grace this sanctuary, and dangle lusciously in great clumps every-where---truly an oasis in a modern-day desert of pavement.
When we visited, I didn't know what to expect. When the tour began, immediately I was blown away by how smart and creative this man was! I recommend this place to everyone. The tour last's about 45min and every room you are brought into is awesome and different.
This place blew my mind. Somehow it's remained a relatively undiscovered spot despite how stunning the architecture is, and how cool it is to see this much plant-life thriving underground.
This place is just amazing!!! They have underground rooms reminiscent of the ancient catacombs, they have fruit producing tree.. It's close to the freeway.. If it wasn't because of this app I would never of known of this place!!!
Pretty cool spot to stop off and explore. Really surprising how much work one man put in and what he achieved within that time. Definitely recommend it.
This place is incredible! Great for family or by yourself. Pretty amazing.
I loved this place! It is so well built and has a great history to it. Definitely a must see attraction.
Love this tour. A must see attraction.
On a hot day stop in here. Underground it's nice and cool. This is a great place to stop and check out a home and garden that was successfully built underground. It's fantastic, and did I mention it's nice and cool.
Difficult to locate
While we where staying on Fresno, we heard about this fantastic architectural house and we had to visit.
It was built by Balthasar Forestiere, who was a Sicilian immigrant, who tried to bring cool breeze and natural fresh air at the underground construction he built.
The entrance fee was $15 but it was so worth the money. The gardens created are fantastic and especially if you think that it was all based at this mans vision.
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Forestiere Underground Gardens
- Sun, Wed - Sat: 10:00 am - 4:00 am
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