Taj Mahal Meets Stonehenge in Miami's Creepy/Romantic Coral Castle
Feeling restless this summer? Y
ou don't have to travel half-way around the globe to witness something awesome. Just take a drive in the 305. Coral Castle in Homestead is just creepy, weird, and wonderful enough to lure in both locals and tourists.
Like the Taj Mahal, the Castle is a monument to a woman. Edward Leedskalnin built it in 1923 as an homage to his long lost love, Agnes Scuffs. The woman who he called his "Sweet Sixteen" left him the day before they were to get married. Leedskalnin then devoted 28 years of his life building this coral rock monument for Agnes. The freaky thing is that this five-foot-tall man sculpted and moved over a thousand tons of this rock all by himself. His superhuman feat fueled on love and heartbreak inspired Billy Idol to write "Sweet Sixteen" about Ed and Agnes. The rock star then filmed the music video in Coral Castle (video after the jump).
As Billy sings "And I do anything/For my sweet sixteen/Oh, I do anything/
For little run away girl." In this case, "anything" for Leedskalnin meant constructing a megalithic limestone castle. According to the Coral Castle Museum, this is how he did it:
With no outside assistance or large machinery Ed singlehandedly built the Coral Castle, carving and sculpting over 1,100 tons of coral rock, as a testimony to his lost love, Agnes. What makes Ed's work remarkable is the fact that he was just over 5 feet tall and weighed only 100 pounds. In this part of Florida, the coral in some areas can be up to 4,000 feet thick. Incredibly, he cut and moved huge coral blocks using only hand tools. He had acquired some skills working in lumber camps and came from a family of stonemasons in Latvia. He drew on this knowledge and strength to cut and move these blocks.
Ed Leedskalnin moved, carved, and quarried all this coral by hand without the aid of power tools.
flickr via Simon Davison
Jimmy Carr: The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour
TicketsFri., Mar. 31, 8:00pm
Illusionist Rick Thomas
TicketsFri., Mar. 31, 8:00pm
Katt Williams: Great America Tour
TicketsFri., Mar. 31, 8:30pm
Friday Night Live
TicketsFri., Mar. 31, 9:00pm
TicketsFri., Mar. 31, 10:00pm
The same way we wonder about how the pyramids got built or how Stonehenge was erected applies to Leedskalnin. Even though he only had a fourth grade education, he built an AC current generator, which is still on display at the Castle. And according to the lore, when asked how he moved the blocks of coral, Leedskalnin said that he simply "understood the laws of weight and leverage well."
He must have. After all, he erected walls that weighed 125 pounds per cubic foot by using only hand tools. These walls were eight feet tall, four feet wide, three feet thick, and weighed over 58 tons. He also installed a gate, which is basically a ginormous piece of coral, which weighs nine tons, but can be spun open with the tip of a finger. Even today no one knows how he did all this. He only worked at night and alone, and reportedly hid his tools when he has a visitor.
Here's a video about the marvels of Coral Castle and the mystery that is Ed Leedskalnin:
Some say that he had supernatural powers and some say he knew the secrets of the Egyptians -- Leedskalnin even claimed he had such "secret" knowledge. Either way, the Coral Castle is considered a hotbed of energy and hosts Psychic Saturdays on the first Saturday of every month, with palm readings and fortunes told. All in all, it makes for a very creepy/romantic/interesting experience.
Coral Castle (28655 South Dixie Highway
Miami) is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for adults, $7 for kids ages 7 - 12; kids six and under get in free. Visit coralcastle.com or call 305-248-6345.
Latvian American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Miami and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.