The Seven Strangest Spots in Miami

The Seven Strangest Spots in Miami
Miami New Times Archive

It's safe to say Miami and its people are strange. But, hey, strange is good. Strange is what makes Miami the crazy, over-the-top, lavish, and outlandish place that it is. Our city oozes character, from the outfits on our backs to the places and structures we proudly call home.

So we're celebrating the strange with these seven places that emulate Miami's beautifully wacky culture. From 800-year-old structures to houses propped on stilts in the ocean and castles both above and under the water, get ready to get weird.

The Seven Strangest Spots in Miami
Photo provided by St. Bernard's Episcopal Church

7. Cloisters of the Spanish Monastery
One of the oldest buildings in the Western Hemisphere is right in our backyard. The Cloisters of the Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach is more than 800 years old. But the ancient construction wasn't always located in the 305. It was built in northern Spain and later dismantled and sold after a social revolution in the 1830s. In 1925, William Randolph Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery's outbuildings and shipped them to the States. It took nearly 40 more years for them to land in Florida and to be rebuilt, earning the structure the nickname “the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history.” Now the site, which is open to the public, is an active and growing Episcopal church.

The Seven Strangest Spots in MiamiEXPAND
Miami New Times Archive

6. Coral Castle
This isn't the type of castle your favorite fairytale described. Said to be carved from 1,100 tons of oolitic limestone and built by one man, this castle is a colossal expanse of coral. It took nearly 30 years to build the site, which includes beds, chairs, tables, and fountains, all made from coral. Edward Leedskalnin, who stood just over five feet tall and weighed only 100 pounds, is believed to have built the castle as a tribute to his long-lost love who left him a day before their wedding. Before he died, Leedskalnin would lead tours of his castle and charge only 10 cents per person for admission. To this day, however, it remains a mystery as to how he built such a massive structure. What is for certain, though, as written on a sign at the front entrance: "You will be seeing unusual accomplishment."

Moorish architecture of Opa-locka City Hall.
Moorish architecture of Opa-locka City Hall.
Courtesy of OLCDC

5. Opa-locka City Hall
The city of Opa-locka, which was the vision of aviation pioneer Glen Curtiss, was originally named by Native Americans as “Opa-tisha-wocka-locka,” meaning “a big island covered with many trees and swamps.” The city, shortened to "Opa-locka," featured structures based on an Arabian Nights theme, which is plainly obvious thanks to a collection of Moorish architecture throughout the city and street names such as Sabur, Sultan, Ali Baba, Sharazad, Aladdin, and Sesame.Curtiss and architect Bernhardt Muller designed 105 buildings, including city hall, with an array of domes, minarets, and exterior staircases. The September 1926 hurricane badly damaged the city, but many of the Moorish-style buildings survived, giving Opa-locka its unique appearance today.



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