Leedskalnin, Edward - Coral Castle - 20th Century Wonder [Feb 1991]
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Coral Castle - 20th Century Wonder [Feb 1991]
One of the most awe-inspiring stone creations is the Coral Castle of Florida, created single-handedly by the late Edward Leedskalnin, an obscure Latvian immigrant. Located 25 miles south of Miami on U.S. Highway 1, it is breathtaking in scope and imagination, unbelievable for skill and patience required. Constructed in complete secrecy, it baffles engineers and laymen alike.
The story of this fantastic castle began more than 50 years ago when Edward Leedskalnin came to South Florida. He chose this sparsely settled section of Florida because he "wanted to get away from the world." Here he began many years of self-induced hard labor in order to forget his unrequited love for his one and only sweetheart.
This young girl who he always referred to as his "Sweet Sixteen," jilted him for another on the eve of their wedding day in his native Latvia. An extremely sensitive soul, he was deeply hurt and made the decision to leave his native country and seek solace elsewhere.
Here on the edge of the Everglades he apparently felt he was far enough away from people, and settled down on a small plot of land which a generous neighbor permitted him to use.
He built a house from logs cut from the surrounding pine trees and coral rock which he quarried on the premises. Thus began the strange and unusual project he set for himself, interrupted only by his moving to a larger plot of ground three miles north of Homestead, which after 25 years of continuous labor culminated in the completion of what can only be described as one of the strangest works of man in all history.
The Coral Castle is no ordinary structure. It is set on a 10-acre tract of land, the castle proper being surrounded by an eight-foot- high wall made of huge blocks of coral rock, each weighing several tons.
The tower contains 243 tons, the first floor of which Leedskalnin used as a workshop and the second floor housed his living quarters. An air of mystery prevailed about these quarters since no one was permitted entry.
Behind the huge walls of the castle in beautiful settings are fantastic pieces of coral rock furniture and movable objects which he created from his fertile imagination. There are rocking chairs weighing thousands of pounds so delicately balanced they move at the touch of a finger.
Couches, beds, chairs, tables of all sizes and shapes, including one table hewn from solid coral rock into the shape of the state of Florida, and another cut into the shape of a heart with a beautiful ever-blooming floral centerpiece growing out of the center of this rock table.
There are huge crescents atop walls 20 feet high, an obelisk reaching up to the sky weighing 28 tons that Leedskalnin set in place by the use of simple hand tools. There is an ingenious Polaris telescope carved out of the coral rock standing 25 foot in height. As in most castles there is a subterranean well, with a circular staircase carved out of the rock leading down into the water. Leedskalnin's famous nine-ton gate is in the east wall.
The Coral Castle has become a familiar sight over the years to travelers on US Highway 1 on the way to the Florida Keys. Many, intrigued by this coral edifice have taken the time to explore it, while others raced by wondering at its incongruity in this modern world of ours.
Those who stopped were met by the man who constructed this monumental work, and guided around while he explained its many mysteries. But one thing he never told anyone was how he ever was able to move the huge coral rocks weighing up to 35 tons which he excavated single-handed. When asked, he replied simply that he knew the secrets used in the building of the Pyramids of Egypt.
Whatever the secrets or principles of construction he used, they died with him when he passed away in a Miami hospital in December, 1951.
Altogether there are approximately 1000 tons of coral rock used in the construction of the walls and tower alone, a stupendous achievement for one man, unequaled in all history. In addition more than 100 tons of coral rock were used in the carvings of the artistic objects throughout the entire castle.
Recognition of Edward Leedskalnin's masterpiece has grown steadily over the years. Acknowledged today as possibly the best example of native or primitive art in the United States, it is also acclaimed as one of the finest examples of massive stone construction in America. It is considered by many as one of the true wonders of the world.
For more than 50 years it has been a landmark of South Florida, and Leedskalnin has become a legendary figure. Thus, although he never again saw the girl who inspired him, the Coral Castle of South Florida stands as a monument for all to see and marvel at the genius, imagination and skill of this strange but brilliant man.