Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I finally saw the Castle!

After years of talking about it, I finally made it to the Coral Castle. It was even one of the things that had been on my 50 by 50 list. I'm so glad my daughter agreed to go with me. It was fantastic.

When we first pulled into the parking lot, I was a little leery. We had driven an hour and a half to get there, and the place looked way too small and somewhat shabby to be worth a three hour round trip. Especially since there was a $15 entry fee. Per person. But I've been wanting to see it for so long, and we had driven so far to get there, we decided to go on in.

Wow. The first sign that you see, says it all. In my opinion, it also sums up the personality of Ed Leedskalnin. Ed designed and did all the work for the Coral Castle back in the 1940s. Ed was a tiny man, only about 5' tall and 100 lbs, and yet he managed to carve out and move literally thousands of pounds of rock with only the machinery he built himself.

Seeing Rock Gate Park (Ed's original name for his sculpture garden) would have been wonderful on it's own, just for the beauty. But we were lucky to be taken around by an amazing guide. She knew her history, both of the Coral Castle and the world in general, and she was able to pull references from mythology, ancient and current religions, history, literature, and even the Free Masons as she discussed the various elements. She presented a lot of theories on how and why Ed created the Castle, and while I don't go along with the majority I thought it was very interesting. (It reminded me of literature classes - I'm still convinced that most authors would be surprised by the symbolism and themes that they are attributed with.) We really weren't ready for her tour to end, and were amazed to find out that we had been there over two hours without realizing the passage of time. It was that good!

One happy surprise was learning that Florida residents get a free pass to come back as often as they want for two years. I can't wait to go back!

The original ten-cents admission is a far cry from the $15 it costs today. But that was a lot of money in the depression, so Ed would barter with families, taking food that he would then turn around and sell as concessions. Smart man!

 Ed lived in a tiny one-room house above his rock garden, without any electricity or running water.

A view of the Coral Castle grounds.

This is one of the reading chairs. Ed carved three, placing them where he could get the best light following the sun's path in the morning, mid-day, and afternoon .

Cari, looking through the rock telescope.

The telescope lines up perfectly to see the north star.

Cari and our guide move the back gate. This weighed something like 5,000 lbs (I forget the exact weight), but because Ed worked out a pivot system it can still be moved today by a couple of girls. Ed had no formal education, so how he was able to design and build this is still unexplained. Although there are a lot of fantastic theories.

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