Miami’s Coral Castle is an eerie attraction

A view of the sculpture "Solar System" and a thirty-ton rock arch created by Leedskalnin as one of the many psychedelic sculptures he designed. Courtesy Donatela Vacca

As if the story of a tiny, 5-foot Latvian man who somehow single-handedly lifted huge stone blocks to create a coral fort isn’t already remarkable, his castle also reveals an uncanny collection of strange, inexplicable sculptures that give life to a South Florida mystery.

Coral Castle, located just north of Homestead, offers a twisted glimpse into the bizarre and lonesome life of Edward Leedskalnin, a solitary and strange man who emigrated to America after his 16-year-old fiancé refused his love.

Leedskalnin and his castle are great enigmas, since nobody really knows how this fragile man was able to build this monolithic shrine all on his own, or even how his deadly tuberculosis disappeared a few months after he moved to Florida. According to him, his illness was partly cured due to the effects of the magnetic energy the Coral Castle area had.

Matthew Potts, a junior majoring in marketing at the University of Miami, visited the castle in search of spontaneous, fun and new things to experience. He explained that weird is sometimes cool.

“My first impression of Coral Castle was that it was extremely weird but in a cool way. I was mostly surprised that it was located in the middle of a residential neighborhood,” he said.

Surrounded by bushes, flowers and a terra cotta floor, this castle looks like a painting taken from Salvador Dali’s world. Full of psychedelic figures like crescent moons, obelisks, telescopes, sundials, bathtubs, tables and even a well, this marvel fits what seems to be normal floor plans of a regular house.

Potts was drawn in by the enigma that Coral Castle has become.

“I really enjoyed learning about the history of the castle and about the mystery behind how he moved such big pieces of rock all by himself,” he said. “It was definitely a unique experience because it’s a one-of-a-kind structure.”

It is precisely this eerie and bizarre mystery that draws most visitors into this dreamlike fortress.

Juliana Moncada, a 30-year-old tourist who considers herself a “queer” traveler, said she didn’t just stumble upon the castle. Instead, before venturing into Miami, she decided to look up the strangest things to do, and this came up.

“I didn’t really know this existed, but I came looking for it,” she said. “I’m attracted to all things eerie, and it is obvious the place itself already carries a certain unearthly hunch, so it’s a must-see.”

Some people wonder how Leedskalnin accomplished this, and for what purpose, but most simply wonder about the meaning behind the strange sculptures inside the castle grounds. Some visitors are even taken aback by the fact that such a strange and peculiar place is located in the middle of a dull suburban neighborhood.

“I really enjoyed the story behind Coral Castle as well as the structures and plants that make it up,” Potts said. “I think the castle is a mildly psychedelic place. The nature and the textures of the castle itself are probably its most psychedelic qualities. Also, the mere fact that such a strange place exists is pretty trippy.”



WHAT: Coral Castle Museum

WHERE: 28655 S. Dixie Hwy., Homestead, Fla. 33033

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

COST: Seniors 65 and up pay $12; adults between the ages of 13 and 64 pay $15, children between 7 and 12 years old pay $7 and those under 6 years enter for free.