Like so many things in the strange and fantastical state of Florida, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction when discussing the origins of Coral Castle. Coral Castle is a stone sculpture garden constructed by a heartbroken Latvian immigrant named Edward Leedskalnin. Legend states that in 1919, Edward Leedskalnin was abandoned by his fiancé one day before they were slated to be married. A devastated Leedskalnin left Latvia for Florida and dedicated the remainder of his life to carving stone statues in an attempt to soothe his lovesick heart.
For nearly 30 years, Edward Leedskalnin spent countless hours carving nearly 3 million pounds of a limestone rock known as oolite into stone gates, chairs, and crescent moons. Edward was scarcely 5 feet tall and weighed a little over 10o pounds. There was a great deal of speculation about how scrawny Edward was able to move slabs of rock that weighed over a ton.
Edward Leedskalnin never did reveal his secrets, but many onlookers speculated that he somehow used magnetic forces to move heavy stones around his property. Edward claimed to understand the “secrets of the pyramids.” After Edward passed away in 1951, Coral Castle groundskeepers did determine that simple tools fashioned from old car parts played an important role in Edward’s sculptures.
After Edward Leedskalnin’s death in 1951, his Coral Castle estate was purchased by a family from Illinois who turned the sculpture garden into a thriving tourist destination. Since the mid-20th century, visitors have been captivated by the otherworldly stone garden that Edward Leedskalnin carefully crafted. Many visitors consider a small but sturdy castle which features a rampart wall to be the centerpiece of Coral Castle.
Travelers can spend the afternoon freely wandering the grounds of Coral Castle or take a guided tour to learn more about Edward Leedskalnin’s legacy. Coral Castle features a stone sundial, a well, and an outdoor bathtub that often fills with rainwater. Many of Edward’s stone creations are now covered in colorful flowering vines or shaded by palm trees.
Coral Castle is also home to a collection of curious and primitive tools that Edward Leedskalnin built out of spare car parts and other odds and ends. Edward Leedskalnin’s quirky and timeless stone garden never fails to inspire inventors and creators. Edward’s sage advice would surely be if life gives you lemons, craft your own tools and build an enduring stone garden that will forever be shrouded in mystery.
28655 S. Dixie Hwy.
Homestead, Florida, 33033
Photos by demerzel21/depositphotos.com, SharpShooter/depositphotos.com
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