The Mysteries And Ingenuity Behind Miami's Coral Castle

coral castle

Coral Castle

Coral Castle Obelisk

Coral Castle

coral castle tower

The tower at Coral Castle

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By: Shayne Benowitz

Made of 1,100 tons of coral rock, the Coral Castle Museum is one of Homestead's most unusual and fascinating attractions.

Built single-handedly over the course of 28 years, Coral Castle is both a feast for the eyes with its mind-bending sculpture garden carved of massive coral rock, and a legendary love story about the man who created it.

Coral Castle
Coral Castle was built from 1923 to 1951 by Edward Leedskalnin

The History of Coral Castle

In 1919, at the age of 31, Latvian-born Edward Leedskalnin moved to Florida City as a heartbroken man having been left by his betrothed Agnes Scuffs just a day before their wedding in Riga, Latvia. 

Leedskalnin spent about 18 years in Florida City before buying a plot of land in Homestead, 10 miles away. He’d already begun construction of his Coral Castle and spent three years painstakingly moving his sculptured carvings to what would become their permanent home.

Coral Castle Museum Entrance
Coral Castle Entrance through a 9 ton gate of coral rock

How Coral Castle Was Constructed

The engineering of Leedskalnin’s Coral Castle is shrouded in mystery. At just over five feet tall, he weighed only 100 pounds and is believed to have worked with more than three million pounds of oolite coral without the aid of modern mechanics or any collaborators. Theories abound, from the supernatural to his preternatural knack for ancient sciences.

Homestead’s Coral Castle has been compared to the mysteries and monumental accomplishments of the pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in England and the Taj Mahal in India. It’s believed that Leedskalnin was single-mindedly determined to build a monument to his lost love.

Primitive Ed Leedskin tools
Primitive tools Ed used to build Coral Castle by hand

Whenever he was questioned about the construction, he explained that he had a vast understanding of the laws of weight and leverage. While there was no heavy machinery to help move and place the coral perfectly, Leedskalnin moved each piece using basic block and tackle with primitive tools he created from old car parts. Some say Coral Castle is positioned on the earth’s natural harmonic grid, which helped him with his ability of magnetism, levitation and electrical current. Leedskalnin was known to conduct electrical experiments, even publishing his own textbooks which provided detailed instructions on how to recreate his findings.

Leedskalnin completed the coral rock carvings in the early 1940s. The oolite coral walls of the castle, which are eight feet tall, four feet wide and three feet thick, weigh more than 58 tons.

Coral Castle Tower
Coral Castle Tower is now used as a museum of Ed's tools and cooking utensils

Originally called Rock Gate Park, Leedskalnin conducted tours of his Coral Castle during the 1940s for the meager price of 25 cents. Leedskalnin lived until the age of 64. He bequeathed his monumental Coral Castle to a nephew in Michigan who eventually sold it to a family from Illinois. They continued Leedskalnin’s love of his creation and preserved Coral Castle as a museum for all to see and experience. Coral Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Coral Castle Obelisk and chairs
Coral Castle Obelisk and chairs

Visiting Coral Castle Today

Visiting Coral Castle today, visitors can explore the wonders of Leedskalnin’s accomplishments. Highlights of his structures include a nine-ton gate, a three-ton gate that moves with the touch of a finger, a Polaris telescope, and the world’s only sundial with seasons all carved out of coral rock.

Guided tours tell the tale of Leedskalnin and his inspiration behind not only Coral Castle as a whole, but also individual structures that still work even after nearly a century. The unique gift shop carries collectibles, science gifts, natural stones and jewelry.

Coral Castle is open seven days a week and is available for private events, such as weddings.

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