The Coral Castle is one of the more intriguing attractions of South Florida that everyone should experience at least once if not several times. The castle has a long history going back many decades and is the creation of Ed Leedskalnin, who according to some had mystical powers or at the very least knew the secrets of how the pyramids of ancient Egypt were built. If you happen to believe those stories, then he used his skills or mystical powers to create a wide array of stone sculptures including a structure that resembles a castle itself.
Leedskalnin lived from 1887 to 1951 and spent over twenty-eight years creating the castle and all of the sculptures within, apparently with only homemade tools and his own special skills. Regardless if his knowledge and skills were actually magical or not, you will be amazed by what he accomplished as it would appear almost impossible for a single man with basic tools to create the pieces that weigh multiple tons each.
The castle is located in Miami-Dade County directly where S. Dixie Hwy. and Southwest 157th intersect in Leisure City.
When Leedskalnin was a young man in Latvia his wedding just one day prior to the event was suddenly called off by his fiancée. Feeling rejected by the turn of events Leedskalnin made his way to the U.S. almost immediately where he ended up in South Florida.
He apparently began work on sculpting the castle and the various sculptures within over the next twenty-eight years and refused anyone to see him do his work while he was in the process. There are rumors and old stories that claim he could move large blocks of stone around as if they were balloons and Leedskalnin never divulged any of the tools he used to make his creations except for something called a “perpetual motion holder”.
The Coral Castle originally carried the name Rock Gate Park back in 1923 and was named by Edward Leedskalnin himself when it was in Florida City. In 1936, Leedskalnin decided to move the castle to its current location to avoid pending development plans in Florida City and to protect his privacy. It took over three years to complete the move of just ten miles to the north, from Florida City to Leisure City.
Leedskalnin’s work never seemed to be done and he continued his work on the castle and its various structures all the way up to when he passed away in late 1951. He also gave tours of the property starting in 1940 onward and charged 10 cents for each person to view his magnificent and mysterious creations. In fact, the original signs are still in place to this day at the front of the property which say, “Entrance” and “You Will Be Seeing Unusual Accomplishment”. These signs like most everything else in the castle are carved from stone.
Leedskalnin never revealed how he managed to create the castle and the various sculptures within. If he was asked he would simply say, “It Is Not Difficult If You Already Know How”, keeping the mystery and rumors very much alive about his magical powers.
When Leedsklanin died in late 1951, no clues were found among his personal items as to how he accomplished such a feat, only a few thousand dollars which he had managed to make from selling a portion of his Florida City land and doing the tours of the castle.
Today the castle is owned by a privately held company and they offer daily tours where you can still enjoy the mystery and magic of Ed Leedskalnin’s creation, the Coral Castle of Florida.
The castle itself consists of castle walls, multiple types of carvings and sculptures, furniture and a castle tower as well. Most of the stone is actually oolitic limestone which can be found throughout South Florida as far south as the Keys.
The individual stones used to build the castle are fit together without the use of any mortar; they only use sheer weight to hold them in place and stay attached to one another. The stones are crafted with such expertise that light does not even show through at the joint areas where the stones connect, that by itself an amazing accomplishment. The stones that are used for the exterior walls are eight feet in height and all are uniform in fit and measurement. Through all the decades and even a few hurricanes in the area, none of the stones appear to have shifted or moved position from their very first and intended resting spot.
The property has a castle tower that stands over two stories tall and is said to have been Leedskalnin’s dwelling while he lived on the property. It contains several pieces of furniture, an obelisk, a well, fountain, barbecue and a telescope. The furniture is quite interesting as it includes 25 five rocking chairs and several tables. One table is shaped like the state of Florida and another is in the shape of a heart. There are also other chairs that are in various shapes like the moon and even a throne fit for a king.
The stones are quite amazing regardless of they are part of the castle itself of part of one of the sculptures. The large majority of the stones weigh fifteen short tons with only a few on the property that are smaller in size. The biggest stones within the castle structure are over thirty short tons in weight and stand at a staggering twenty-five feet tall each.
One of the most amazing sights you will see at the Coral Castle is its gate that stands at eight feet in height and perfectly fits the surrounding walls. The gate stopped working thirty years ago, but it is said it was so well balanced that even a small child could open the nine short ton gate with one hand and very little effort. The gate has been repaired several times over the years but it has never operated the same as when it was in its original form.
The mystery behind Ed Leedskalnin’s creation of the Coral Castle continues to this day. While engineers have uncovered some of the tactics and strategies Leedskalnin used to build the amazing structure they have not been able to reproduce it. The gate has never worked with the same type of effortless motion that it did in its original state and the precise measurements and fit of the stones still bewilder engineers.
However, you can see the mystery for yourself and see if you can figure out any clues as to how Leedskalnin created this masterpiece over 28 years. The Coral Castle is perhaps one of the best but least-known attractions in South Florida but it is well worth the trip to Leisure City to view the magnificent stones.
Ed Leedskalnin did make claims that he knew the secrets of how the ancient Egyptian pyramids were built and that understood the laws of leverage and balance. If you believe he had mystical powers and could move stones like balloons, you will have to decide once you see this magical castle.
The castle is open for tours daily, seven days a week. The cost is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $7 for children between the ages of seven and twelve and kids that are under the age of six enter at no charge. The tours begin each at 8 AM and the castle closes 6 PM, except on Friday and Saturday when it is open to the public until 8 PM. If you are looking for something truly unique and different, then the Coral Castle will surely give you what you are looking for in South Florida.