If you are transiting from the Everglades or the Keys to Miami (or vice versa) and you would like to make an intermediate stop, read here: maybe you have found it. What is the Coral Castle Museum? A castle? Yes, but not entirely. A house? Also. A museum? Yes, in part. A theme park? Not really. Together with the Bok Tower, Coral Castle is one of the most curious and unclassifiable attractions in South Florida: the idea of writing this article was born precisely to make you curious to go and see this place with your own eyes, exactly as we wanted to do after the testimonies of friends who , amazed, they had told us about this coral castle.
- How to reach us
- From Miami
- From the Everglades and the Keys
- Coral Castle: story of an incredible project
- What to see in the castle?
- Hours, ticket purchase and tours at the Coral Castle Museum
- Where to sleep?
How to reach us
Il Coral Castle Museum it is found at Homestead, a small, nondescript suburb south of Miami - the exact address is 28655 South Dixie Highway.
- Reach it from Miami it's very simple: just follow the South Dixie Highway for 40 km to the address indicated (50 min.).
- If, on the other hand, you just want to do a road faster (40 min.) but for a fee, from South Dixie take the exit towards FL-874 South (Ronald Reagan Turnpike) and go to Exit 5 (SW 288th St - Biscayne Drive). At the bottom of SW 288th St, just before crossing South Dixie again, you will find Coral Castle.
From the Everglades and the Keys
- If you want to stop at Coral Castle coming from Everglades, keep in mind that the park visitor center closest to the attraction is theErnest Coe Visitor Center. The distance is just 22 km and the way to go is very simple, as you just have to follow the Hwy 9336 to the junction with SW 328th St. This last road then leads to the main South Dixie Highway, which you must take north to the address indicated. If you want to take a refreshing stop after the Everglades, you'll find the booth on 9336 Robert is Here, one of the most popular fresh fruit retailers in the area.
- From the Keys it really is very easy: to the north, the Overseas Highway is none other than the Dixie Highway. For this reason, just pull straight from Key Largo to the address indicated in Homestead (53 km).
Coral Castle: story of an incredible project
The history of Coral Castle it doesn't start in Florida or even in the United States of America, but in Latvia. The protagonist of this story is in fact the enigmatic Edward Leedskalnin, born in Riga in 1887 and moved to the USA around 1913, famous for some interesting theories on magnetism (how magnetic was his mysterious personality). Just over a meter and a half tall and "heavy" 45 kg, Edward was capable of an incredible feat: build by yourself un castle made of huge blocks of coral rock (heavy tons) with the strangest shapes. But how did we pass from Latvia to southern Florida? Why did Leedskalnin take on such an incredible feat?
Let's go back to 1913: Edward was in love with a girl ten years younger, Agnes, who asked in marriage. She agreed, but within hours of the wedding she changed her mind and didn't show up at the altar, claiming that Edward was too old for someone like her. Wounded by Agnes' refusal, Edward left Europe and went to seek his fortune between Canada and the USA. He worked in California and Texas as a lumberjack worker and as a cattleman. Then, falling ill with tuberculosis, he decided to reach Florida City (south of Homestead) in 1918, to take advantage of the warmer weather. Here he bought a piece of land for $ 12 and laid the foundations for his business: building a castle for Agnes ("Sweet Sixteen", as he liked to call it). Who knows, maybe she would have changed her mind. In great secrecy and without explaining anything to anyone, Edward began to move, cut and sculpt huge and very heavy blocks of coral rock. He did it at night, within the walls of his own castle, without electricity, in the light of a lantern, with methodologies that are still shrouded in mystery: there were those who - to explain the prodigy - spoke of levitation, not believing Edward when he claimed that he simply applied the lever system and understood the method of construction of the pyramids, applying it to Coral Castle. Mystery revealed!
At some point, for unknown reasons, Edward decided to move his castle to Homestead, 10 miles north of Florida City. He transferred his monumental rock works with the help of a friend, who provided him with a truck. He continued to work on his project tirelessly, also writing 5 books, one of which (entitled "A Book In Every Home“) Dedicated to 3 themes that can be traced in the“ concept ”of the castle: his beloved Agnes, family relationships in the home and politics. In 1951 he fell ill and was transferred to a Miami hospital, where he died of cancer a few days later at the age of 64. It is said that Agnes never came to see Coral Castle, the unlikely but incredible open-air palace that Edward had built for her for love.
What to see in the castle?
The dimensions of the castle are rather modest, but the various areas designed by Edward deserve an in-depth visit especially for the symbology behind it. The references are numerous: from politics to astronomy, from the fable tradition to esotericism, to philosophy and ancient art.
- The Gate: a gate in which a design representing the journey of the earth around the sun is carved. During the work, Edward always kept it closed.
- The Bell: on the gate it says: "Ring Bell", while on the wall "Ring Twice". If you rang once or more than twice, Edward would not open you. If he rang twice, he would open you up by taking you on a short tour for 25 cents… as long as he wasn't busy. In that case, you stayed out.
- Ed’s Insurance Policy: semplicemente una roccia con su scritto: “Notice be careful. Anything you do on these premises is at your own risk”.
- Three-Ton Gate: another triangular shaped rock weighing 3 tons. The rock is on a rotating mechanism that you can turn yourself!
- Rocking Chairs: coral rock boulders weighing 5 quintals each, carved in the form of chairs. Sit back and marvel at how comfortable they are! Obviously the shorter you are, the more comfortable they will seem ...
- Florida Table: a table carved in the shape of Florida (the proportions are respected and there is also Lake Okeechobe in the central part!) complete with chairs for guests. According to Edward, they had to be distinguished guests: that head of the table was for the Governor of Florida, who could sit with the council to decide the best strategy for raising taxes.
- Polaris Telescope: built so that, looking in the right direction, you can see the Polar Star in the hole dug in the upper part of the monolith placed outside the walls.
- Moon Fountain: a fountain composed of three pieces of coral rock called to represent the phases of the moon. On the sides there are two quarters of the moon, in the center the real basin has the shape of the full moon.
- Sun Dial: no, you have never seen a sundial of this type. The hours indicated by the sun were 9-16: they were used to mark the hours of daily work (when he did not work at night).
- North Wall: to the right of the telescope. Not the best monument in the castle, but the center piece weighs in 27 tons. When he managed to carve it and place it, Edward was so enthusiastic that he placed another sculpture on it with the stylized shape of the crown ("The Crown").
- Planets: the most beautiful and ambitious sculptures of the castle. Mars, Saturn and the Moon ("Crescent of the East") will hit you immediately and unleash your imagination. These pieces were among those moved from Florida City to Homestead!
- Throne Room: Edward built the throne room because it certainly cannot be missing in a castle. It matters little if she never sat on the throne of Queen Agnes ... And to think that Edward had also built a seat for a child!
- Sun Couch: as anticipated, the castle is clearly in the open air. On this rock Edward could sunbathe (which beats strongly in those parts).
- Nine-Ton Gate: it is not the heaviest piece of the castle, but it had a particularity that made it unique. Just like the Three-Ton Gate, the boulder could be rotated thanks to a perfect mechanism… activated by the pressure of a finger. Today, due to a failure this is no longer possible: scholars and researchers from the University of Florida have tried to calculate precisely the balance of the rock, but in vain: only Edward could repair it and make it turn again.
- The Well: without running water and electricity, the brilliant Ed built this well to draw water and keep food cool.
- Bathroom: dug out of the rock and reinforced with concrete, there is also the tub in which Ed could bathe. There are ladders to reach it from the surface level.
- Bedroom: in the room, the two coral rock beds are separated: a somewhat sad solution for a love story that ended badly. Here too there is a cot for a child.
- Obelisk: right on the wall, there is a tall and very heavy obelisk. Built in Florida City, it was moved to Homestead by the usual mysterious methods. At the top of the obelisk there is a hole and above all a metal antenna that has sparked a thousand questions to the most curious.
- Repentance Corner: if Ed had become a parent, he would have been a strict father. This construction looked more like an instrument of torture: they were slits into which disobedient children would have to insert their heads to stay still and listen carefully to their father's words of reproach. There was one for Agnes too, but not for Ed ...
- Ed’s BBQ: a castle without kitchens has never been seen. And she cooked her hot dogs for the children who came to visit the castle in the BBQ built in coral rock.
- Feast of Love Table: a mammoth table (2 tons) in the shape of a heart, with a flower in the center. Perhaps the symbolic monument of the whole castle, a sign of love for the never forgotten beloved.
- Grotto of Three Bears: do you know the tale of the three bears? The father bear, the mother bear and the small bear, with objects and furniture to scale according to their size? Well, Ed has reproduced a rocky version of this nice idea of home life in the castle.
- Tower: made up of various blocks of varying weight, the tower is the only covered space in the castle and includes the room where Ed spent most of his day. There is also another room used as a museum where some of the work tools used by Ed are exhibited, strictly handmade.
Hours, ticket purchase and tours at the Coral Castle Museum
- orari di apertura are the following:
- Sunday to Thursday: 9 am-18pm
- Friday and Saturday: 9-17
Entrance to Coral Castle also includes a live tour in English conducted by very good and passionate volunteers, willing to solve doubts and answer questions (don't go too specific, even if they knew Edward's secrets they wouldn't tell you). The only "problem" is that you will not be able to have an exclusive tour for you, but you will have to add yourself to the previously formed groups that have already started the guided tour. Not bad, if you miss something you can make up for it by reading my guide or waiting for the next turn. Meanwhile, you can visit it independently (no one will prevent you).
There is also a small gift shop which sells quirky themed items at frankly a bit disproportionate prices.Visit tip The guided tour is all outdoors and lasts about an hour. So long as there is practically never a shadow, avoid going during the hottest hours or protect yourself with sunscreen, hat and appropriate clothing.
Where to sleep?
Coral Castle is perfect for one visit of passage to or from Miami, so for an overnight stay it's worth being based in the city, unless you want to choose Homestead or Florida City to still be closest to Everglades. Below are our tips for the overnight in Miami and for choosing the best neighborhood.
Advice on where to sleep in Miami