Carcosa*

*This location is undisclosed to help prevent further vandalism and damage to the property.

In the True Detective television series, Carcosa is referenced cryptically throughout the series. Located in the deep south, it was said to be a place where devil worship took place by a mysterious and powerful cult who were suspected of countless child murders throughout Louisiana. Its leader is mentioned only as being “The Yellow King”.

What they were referencing was a collection of short stories titled, The King in Yellow, written by Robert W. Chambers, and named after a fictional play with the same name. The play is comprised of two acts, with the first act being quite ordinary while the second is said to drive the reader completely mad.

Carcosa is mentioned many times throughout the stories, being described as a mysterious, ancient and possibly cursed city located on the shores of Lake Hali in the Hyades. The King in Yellow is said to reside within, described as being a thin, floating man covered in tattered, yellow robes. In later years, he’s described as a hunched figure clad in tattered, yellow rags, who wears a smooth and featureless “Pallid Mask”, where upon its removal induces a sanity-shattering experience. The King’s face is said to have “inhuman eyes in a suppurating sea of stubby maggot-like mouths; liquescent flesh, tumorous and gelid, floating and reforming”.

In the final episode of True Detective, an overgrown stone temple, presumably a long abandoned military fortress, is hinted at being Carcosa. That portion of the episode was filmed at the ruins of a Civil War-era fortress in Louisiana. Though its not as mysterious as its fictional counter-part, it still has a dreary atmosphere about it due to it’s heavily decayed state. Fog rises from the waters that surround it and the citadel stands firm in the endless overgrowth.


Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.

Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.

—”Cassilda’s Song” in The King in Yellow Act 1, Scene 2

Carcosa | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

Carcosa | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

Carcosa | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

Carcosa | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

Carcosa | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

Carcosa | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

Carcosa | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

Carcosa | Photo © 2015 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

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