In the 1920s, a Latvian-American man named Edward Leedskalnin began building a castle out of giant stones in between the towns of Homestead and Leisure City, in South Florida. He spent his entire life honing the structure, where he also lived, and gave cagey answers when asked how he could be building it all by himself. From the day Ed started building Coral Castle to modern times, people have been fascinated by the man and his work, as is often the case with unique structures that have never been explained.
Supposedly in secret and under the cover of night, Leedskalnin managed to carve, lift and move into place up to 1,100 tons of stone blocks on his own, with such skill that the blocks perfectly align and have remained intact for decades. It might look like a fanciful stone garden today, but really, Coral Castle is even more impressive than it looks.
UPDATE: 2022/08/06 14:42 EST BY KAT BELLO
Beautiful structures surrounded by whimsy and mystery enliven the curious spirit that exists in many travel lovers. Coral Castle is a place that has fascinated people for nearly a century, from its artistic aesthetic, the secrets of its construction, and the eccentricity of its builder. To aid curious travelers in separating the facts, the myth, and the misconceptions about this amazing place, we have updated this article with fresh info and sources.
Today, owned by a private company, Coral Castle is a popular tourist destination in South Florida that brings in a ton of people each year. Before you book a flight to Florida to explore for yourself, read on for the truth behind the ever-mysterious structure.
10 Coral Castle Could Be Made Of Coral... Sort Of
Coral Castle might not rank among the most epic, Disney-esque castles out there - in fact, it's technically not even a castle, but it is made of coral... sort of. Coral Castle is actually made from a sedimentary rock called oolite limestone, a porous type of rock made of layered carbonate, which can contain fossilized corals and shells. The rock used in Coral Castle was quarried from areas near the Florida building site, and as folks apparently took to calling it Coral Castle in its later years, the name stuck.
9 The Creator Didn't Call It 'Coral Castle'
The first castle Ed Leedskalnin built in Florida, was originally named Ed's Place. Later, when he moved and took the castle (and its giant stone blocks) with him to its current location, Leedskalnin named the finalized castle Rock Gate, after the literal rock gate that formed the entrance. It's commonly agreed that "Coral Castle" was the catchiest of the names it had.
8 The Original Castle Moved Over Ten Miles
The original Ed's Place castle was in Florida City, Florida. Ed Leedskalnin bought the property in 1923 and began building his castle from nearby sedimentary rock. But when plans for a new subdivision emerged in his neighborhood in 1936, Ed began moving his castle over ten miles away, to Homestead, Florida. Piece by piece, he moved the existing stones. Once the new place was set up, Ed added to it over the years, never stopping until his death in 1951.
7 No One Really Knows How Leedskalnin Did It
Tons of fanciful guesses surround the story of how Ed Leedskalnin built his epic castle, from levitation to magnets to outright magic, many theories have come and gone over the years. However, when asked about it, Ed would offer explanations such as he had a vast knowledge encompassing leverage and weight, or his knowledge of the "secrets of the pyramids". Other times, he'd say he harnessed the secrets of the pyramids. All excellent ways to skirt the question, and no one's entirely sure how he built Coral Castle on his own.
6 Likely, The 'Magic' Was Just Physics
That being said, a lot of the myth that surrounds Leedskalnin himself and the construction of Coral Castle is just that - a myth. It's nice to imagine Ed Leedskalnin, who was reportedly five feet tall and 100 pounds, levitating alongside his limestone rocks, but much of the "magic" at Coral Castle is just physics. And while Ed Leedskalnin never expressly detailed his process for building Coral Castle, he wasn't that secretive about it. His tool shed contained pulleys, hand tools, and everything you'd need to work with rocks.
Plus, as experts point out, while heavy, limestone is also rather porous. So, it's not as difficult to move as you might assume. Overall, the castle is comprised of 1,100 tons of rock, which involved hard work, but probably not magic. Mechanical know-how for the win!
5 Coral Castle Is A Registered Historic Place...
These days, Coral Castle is a registered historic place in Florida. It's revered for its design and size, and its significance for art, sculpting, and engineering. The castle has held the distinction since 1984, long after Leedskalnin's death. Of course, the site is also a museum, which the current owners advertise through their website. Proceeds from tickets go toward running the place.
4 Leedskalnin Probably Wouldn't Be Happy About The Price-Gouging
Since it's a historic landmark and all, you can expect to pay to visit Coral Castle these days. Essentially, it's a stone sculpture garden that you can walk through. Tickets cost $18 per adult, which is a far cry from Ed Leedskalnin's original ten-cent fee. In fact, Ed only started charging a fee when people trampled his shrubs and were rude visitors. Ultimately, his price for a guided tour reached 25 cents in the '50s.
3 Ed Leedskalnin Only Finished Fourth Grade
What's really astonishing about Coral Castle and Ed Leedskalnin is that this genius only finished fourth grade. He did not grow up wealthy and was a sickly child, and if the rumors about his lost love are true, that's a lot of strife to overcome. Leedskalnin also suffered from tuberculosis multiple times, though he eventually died of kidney problems. For a man with such a rough life, he definitely accomplished a lot.
2 Billy Idol Wrote A Song About Coral Castle
The lore behind Coral Castle even inspired Billy Idol. In 1986, the artist penned a song called "Sweet Sixteen" about Coral Castle. Apparently, Leedskalnin would say that he built the castle 'for' his sweet sixteen. People interpreted that to mean his possible fianceé, who would have been sixteen. However, in Leedskalnin's writings, he called 'sweet sixteen' an ideology rather than a reflection of true-life events. Of course, no one ever found out the details, and there's still speculation on who his former fiancée was if she even existed at all.
1 You Can Host An Event At Coral Castle (For A Fee)
While a lot of Coral Castle's intrigue lies in its past, one cool thing about it is that people can rent it out for their own events. It is an amazing attraction in Florida, and it wouldn't make a bad destination wedding spot, either. Plenty of people have wed there and held tons of other events (plus taken fun social media selfies). And really, going there is the only way to see whether it was magic or something else that brought Coral Castle to fruition!