Coral Castle Museum
There are few things as strange and oddly beautiful as Coral Castle in Miami. Consisting of over 1,000 tons of megalithic stones made mostly of limestone and coral and intricately organized in the form of walls, furniture, carvings, and even a castle tower, the Coral Castle Museum instantly resembles something out of antiquity. However, the grounds and stone structures located at Coral Castle only date from 1923 to around 1951, the years when a mysterious and eccentric Latvian-American by the name of Edward Leedskalnin built the massive structure with his own bare hands. Legends surround this structure, and in regards to the building of the site, some visitors claim that Leedskalnin used reverse magnetism or supernatural abilities to create the structures in secret. Visitors to Coral Castle can tour through the grounds and discover objects such as 9-ton gate that moves with just a touch of the finger, a Polaris telescope and functioning rocking chairs, all of which Leedskalnin built entirely out of stone.
Backstory and Context
History of Coral Castle
When asked about how he built Coral Castle all by myself, Leedskalnin would famously reply that he "discovered the secrets of the pyramids.” However, Coral Castle’s promotional material states that the history of Coral Castle dates back to Leedskalnin’s teenage years in Latvia when his 16-year-old fiancée, Agnes Skuvst, left him a day before the wedding.
Also, when he was leaving for America, Leedskalnin developed a terminal case of tuberculosis, which he claims was cured due to magnetic forces. Beginning in 1923, after Leedskalnin bought the land and built the original castle in “Rock Gate Park,” Leedskalnin worked in secret on the other objects and structures that would eventually become Coral Castle.
Refusing to allow anyone to see him work, Leedskalnin worked for more than 28 years on the project, up until his death in 1951. In 1984, after ownership of the Castle had changed hands a few times, his work was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and 2011 marked the name change from “Rock Gate” to “Coral Castle.”1
The Secret and Wonder of Coral Castle
Visitors to the Coral Castle are able to gaze upon the intricate beauty of the structure while listening to a narrative in English, Spanish, French or German from the audio stands. The narrative at these stands details the wonders surrounding Leedskalnin’s life and his work.
It is important to remember that Coral Castle features over 1,000 tons of coral rock, and the structures at the park were created without the use of machinery or outside assistance. Furthermore, Leedskalnin was only five-feet tall and weighed a mere 100 pounds. The coral in some areas can be upwards of 4,000-feet thick, and the short and skinny Leedskalnin was cutting and moving these huge rocks using only hand tools.
Part of the fun of visiting this impressive sight (which some compare to the Taj Mahal due to the labor of love forming the foundation of the story) comes from the inevitable dive into legend, wonder, and mystery.2