Just when I think I’ve seen it all, another crazy, wonderful, inexplicable piece of mankind’s imagination comes along. There was Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, Salzburg’s Love Locks, Chicago’s Bean, and now South Florida’s Coral Castle.
Aside from the fact the castle looks more European than typical roadside kitsch along Florida’s South Dixie Highway (US 1), there’s the aura of UFO’s, magnetic grids, harmonic levitation, and perpetual motion machines (and a gecko/agama or two) that comes with this monument to one secretive man’s life’s work.
No one really knows how one slight Latvian immigrant standing a mere 5’4” and battling tuberculosis managed to single-handedly dig up thirty ton stones from a South Florida oolitic limestone quarry, then fashion those stones into an ‘unusual accomplishment’ he called home for over thirty years.
Okay, maybe Edward took the ‘every man’s home is his castle’ a little too literally, but what else is a jilted lover to do when he’s left at the altar?
I can see this meticulous stonemason needing 28 years to create his own castle in southern Florida, a fiefdom in which he could be the undisputed lord, right down to his own throne (no, not the porcelain kind). It took Jimmy 9 months to remodel our master bathroom, and while he carved out the original space down to the studs before removing a few and rebuilding the entire area, he didn't have to spend time chiseling stone before installing the sinks, cabinets, shower and toilet.
Sitting in Edward’s throne room among the constellation of stars just over my shoulder, I could imagine this diminutive man looking out over his fiefdom, beaming with pride. Protected inside the 8-foot walls he’d crafted with little more than his bare hands and a few primitive tools, he was truly king of his castle, his world, his fate, where once he'd failed.
Was it simply the physics of leverage that allowed Edward to position the 40-foot, 28-ton obelisk that is centered along the east wall of his castle? I could use that kind of leverage to persuade Jimmy to fly first class next time we travel.
It took a six-man team of engineers five days to reset the gate using a twenty-ton crane and a laser beam. The gate, however, still does not spin as easily as it did with Edward’s magic touch.
I could use a bit of that magic for a few of my own rusty joints!
Some people speculate when Edward literally picked up and moved his castle 10 miles north, to Homestead, Florida, in 1936 (moving up that corporate ladder makes for some less than desirable relocations), that he was simply drawing on the power from the earth itself. It took him three years to dismantle, transport, and reassemble his castle!
Surely you’ve heard the theory behind the earth’s energy grid?
No? Where have you been?
Obviously nowhere near the ley lines, the intersection points of that energy grid, where several other megalithic monuments have been positioned, including the Dragon’s Triangle off the coast of Japan, the temples of Baalbek in Lebanon, and the Moai heads on Easter Island.
I’m ready to rest my case.
Never mind his castle was just about the only thing left standing after Hurricane Andrew, a category 5 storm, demolished the entire Homestead area in 1992.
The castle is still intact; the walls, the two-story tower where Edward slept,
Far from home, alone and sick, I hope Edward found a measure of peace in the castle of his dreams.
What about his princess, his lost love?
Was he obsessed with his loss, and his pride, or simply a gifted man destined to discover the secrets of the universe?
The more I travel, the more I realize I'm never going to see it all, much less understand all that I see. But that fact only serves to increase the wonder of what I see, the wonder of this beautiful, wide world I choose to call my home.
The bottom line on the Coral Castle:
Verdict: If you're into architectural wonders, roadside tourist kitsch or mysteries, you'll love Coral Castle. It was well worth a view into Edward Leedskalnin's world.
How to Get There: Head south from Miami on US 1 for approximately 25 miles, to Homestead, Florida. The Coral Castle will be on the east side of South Dixie Highway.
Insider Information: Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to visit. The noonday sun was a killer, even in the milder, mid-January months.
Nearby Food: There's a small snack bar on the premises, otherwise you have your pick of fast food joints along US 1.