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Coral Castle: 15 things to amaze you at mysterious ‘work of art’ in Homestead

Whenever you see pictures of the pyramids in Egypt, you probably wonder how they could possibly have been constructed without modern tools.

Well, you don’t have to travel to the Nile to see such wonders on a smaller yet still dramatic scale. Just visit the Coral Castle in Homestead.

Here, stones weighing up to 30 tons were hand-hewn from pits on the property and some were raised over 25 feet in the air. And all this was accomplished by a 5-foot, 100-pound man with a fourth-grade education.

Step inside the Coral Castle to explore the wonders that Ed built. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley)
Step inside the Coral Castle in Homestead to explore the wonders that Ed built. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley)

Meet Edward (Ed) Leedskalnin who raised the over 1,100 tons of rock on the property. Since his work on his castle began in 1923, visitors have been asking, “How did he do it?”

If you could have asked Ed, all he’d have divulged is that he knew the laws of weight and leverage and he’d discovered the secrets of the pyramids.

But first: Why did he do it?

At the age of 26, Ed was living in his homeland of Latvia and was engaged to Agnes Scuffs. He was very happy until the 16-year-old girl jilted him the day before their wedding (or so the story goes).

A life-size cut out of Ed shows his diminutive size. Especially if you compare him to the height of the nearby umbrellas. Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley.
A life-size cut out of Ed shows his diminutive size; compare him to the height of the nearby umbrellas. Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley.

Heartbroken, Ed came to the United States. He ended up in the Pacific Northwest where he worked as a lumber jack. But he still couldn’t forget his beloved Sweet 16, as he called Agnes.

Later stricken with tuberculosis, Ed decided to relocate to Florida for the warm weather. In 1918, he moved to Florida City where the Moser family nursed him and offered him a job. They also sold him an acre of land on which to live.

Here, in 1923, he began construction of what he called Ed’s Place. By quarrying and carving huge chunks of oolite, a type of limestone that’s common in Florida, he began creating a monument to his lost love (or at least the idea of her). Apparently, he hoped his work would dazzle her with his devotion in case she ever showed up.

By 1936, a planned development in the area caused Ed, who was a private person, to move to 10 acres of land in Homestead.

The mystery of moving and more

Of course, Ed was not going to leave his memories or monuments to Agnes behind.

Working alone and at night, he secretively loaded all of his carvings onto a flatbed truck trailer for the move. There are conflicting stories about whether he used a flatbed truck or trailers and how the stone carvings were moved as Ed who spoke five languages, didn’t have a driver’s license.

It was either a farmer with a tractor who pulled the trailer or a 15-year-old boy named Orval Irwin who got $2 a trip to drive his truck back and forth loaded with Ed’s treasures.

Regardless, the trip to the new Homestead location was 10 miles north and the move took three years.

As time went by, roadways were being constructed to accommodate the Model T Fords and other traffic that was starting to bring tourists to Florida.

When Ed realized he could make money by offering tours of his Coral Castle for 25 cents a person, he sold seven acres of his land for the creation of Dixie Highway. That assured him the roadway would run past his location as it does to this day.

Ed continued working on his castle and welcoming visitors into his Homestead “home” until 1951 when he took a bus to the hospital where he died from a kidney infection at the age of 64.

He never heard from Agnes; the park was later sold and renamed the Coral Castle.

Idol’s Idol: Billy Idol, a London rocker, wrote a hit song called Sweet 16 in 1987 that tells the story of Ed’s lost love and hard labors. There’s also a recording of Sweet 16 in which Idol uses the first few minutes to explain the story behind the song.

15 super-sized attractions at the Coral Castle

Today if you visit the Coral Castle, here are some of the remarkable things you will see. Many of them were quarried and created on site but others were moved from Florida City.

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Limestone chunks were carved from pits and raised to form the walls surrounding the Coral Castle. There was no mortar used to build the wall. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley)


At the Homestead location, Ed built eight-foot-high stone walls to protect the works within. For the walls, he hand-cut stones weighing almost six tons each. How he raised and placed them is considered a mystery. The walls remain perfectly balanced to this day.

 Stairways to the top of the walls gave him a view over the top so he could see who was approaching. Of course, in the quiet of his location, he’d have heard the trespasser first.

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When Ed got finished precisely hewing a nine-ton stone for a gate, it was set and balanced so exactly that it closed within one-quarter inch of the wall. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley)


At the time, Ed called his new location in Homestead the Rock Gate Park. It’s named after an eight-foot-high gate that Ed carved from a nine-ton stone. That stone was so well balanced on its axis that the rotating gate could be turned with the push of a finger.

It worked perfectly for 50 years. And then in 1986 when it stopped rotating, men came in with a crane to take it apart. They discovered that Ed, to create the gate, had inserted a metal rod through the stone’s axis and set it on an old truck bearing. The bearing had rusted and that caused the gate to malfunction.

But once the workmen had it apart, they never got it back as precisely as Ed had it originally. Today the door does not spin.

On the top floor of the Coral Castle tower, Ed slept and kept his food. The ground floor houses a collection of his tools excavated on the property. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley).
On the top floor of the Coral Castle tower, Ed slept and kept his food. The ground floor houses a collection of his tools excavated on the property. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley).


The first story of the stone structure in a corner of the castle houses a display of about 30 percent of Ed’s homemade tools. These were made from virtually indestructible Dade pine, truck/car parts plus other recycled items found on the property.

It’s said that none of his tools were rated for the weights he was able to lift.

Upstairs is Ed’s bedroom where he slept on a mattress suspended from the ceiling. This protected him from the creepy crawlies.

It’s said there’s also a hanging chair and a breadbox. But no one is allowed to climb the 16 steps (yes, in homage to his Sweet 16) to see the upper floor, probably for safety reasons.


A 5,000-pound chunk of stone carved into a rocker sits atop a stone pedestal. No one knows quite why or how it was moved there.

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Ed must have wanted Agnes to feel like royalty so he created a Throne Room. Behind the chairs you can see the Saturn and the Moon that Ed carved. (see item below). (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley)


Waiting for Agnes, his queen, Ed carved two large thrones and a child-sized one. The fourth and most uncomfortable looking chair in this area is called the mother-in-law chair.

In this area, you’ll also see the Reconciliation Chair. It’s two rockers in one that were carved side-by-side but facing in opposite directions. A couple could sit and talk and rock without really looking at each other. But when the problem was resolved, they could stop rocking, kiss and makeup.

coral castle Coral Castle Valentines Table 7469 Coral Castle: 15 things to amaze you at mysterious 'work of art' in Homestead
While you are here, look closely behind the Valentine’s Table. You’ll see the outdoor bedroom for which Ed carved two single beds. Chances are no one including Ed ever slept there. And note the stairs to nowhere ascending the wall. Ed used these to keep a lookout for visitors and intruders. (Photos Deborah Hartz-Seeley)


Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, this 5,000-pound table is shaped like a heart with a built-in planter for flowers. Ed wanted to be sure Agnes would always have flowers. Who says Ed wasn’t a romantic?

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A table shaped like Florida with a bowl for Lake Okeechobee. (Photo by Deborah Hartz-Seeley)


This table shaped like Florida is surrounded by 1,000-pound rocking chairs. It is said that Ed liked to set all the chairs rocking at one time. A nearby carving said to be Key West, is located due west of the state. Clearly Ed was no cartographer.


Here is where Ed is said to have cooked a dozen hot dogs at a time that he sold for two cents each. But this is no ordinary grill.

An old truck’s rear axle differential is hung by a chain over the heat of the barbecue pit. The casing opens and Ed would place the food inside before closing it and letting his food sizzle. This is another example of Ed repurposing old truck parts and things he found on his property to create something entirely new and useful.

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Steps lead to the chilly waters of the well. The rock disk can be rolled into place at the top of the stairs to prevent anyone from falling in. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley)


Ed dug by hand to reach the water table. He didn’t have to go far until he hit the Biscayne Aquifer providing running water to this day. Stone steps lead down to the 55-degree water. A carved wheel of rock rolls across the top of the stairs to protect his water supply.

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At some times of year, Ed may have used the cold well water to fill this stone tub he’d carved. The water would heat in the sun. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley)


Oversized carvings of Saturn, the Moon, Venus and Mars add to the mysticism of the place.

Ortro video de idol: After rock-singer Billy Idol wrote his song about the Coral Castle and Ed’s Sweet 16 in 1987, he made another music video. It had Spanish subtitles and was shot at the Coral Castle.

Ed’s carvings of Saturn and the Moon plus his water well are prominently featured.  But because of the video’s poor production quality, you have to look twice to recognize them.


Three chairs are placed at different spots in the Coral Castle so they catch the sun throughout the day. This assured Ed that he could get good light to read whenever he found time to sit down

He probably didn’t read at night because there was no electricity and it’s said that’s when he did his carving. Perhaps he worked at night for secrecy or because it was cooler.

However, it does seem that Ed created an AC generator that powered two lightbulbs. He used it to entertain children. When he needed light to work, he used kerosene lanterns.

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The largest sculpted rock at the Coral Castle, the obelisk in the background, is inscribed: MADE 1928, MOVED 1939, BORN 1887, LATVIA, (Photo Deborah Hartz- Seeley.)


Weighing 30 tons and rising 25 feet in the air as well as descending six feet into the ground, this is one of the largest structures on the property. It was one piece that had to make the trip from Florida City. Its inscription celebrates this fact by designating when the stone was carved, when it was moved and when Ed was born.

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In case you want to find Polaris, it isn’t as easy to locate in the southern sky as it is up north. Ed provides some help with his Polaris Telescope. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley)


Look through the hole in the wall that lines up with the hole atop a 25-foot-tall megalith that weigh 22 tons. This is Ed’s Polaris (North Star) “Telescope”. Depending on what quadrant of the upper hole the star appears in tells you the season.

Although this is called a telescope, it’s not. It helps locate the star, but it has no lenses so can’t enlarge it


The Coral Castle’s accurate sundial tells the day, month and season/solstices as well as accurate time from 9 a.m. to. 4 p.m. Guess Ed was off the clock after that.

Also of interest, he didn’t take daylight savings into account so you may have to add an hour.

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In the area around Coral Castle there are quarry pits that were not discovered until mid-century. This one contained broken chairs and other of Ed’s refuse. The discarded chair is on display atop the filled pit. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley)


Once outside the castle walls, you are free to roam the grounds to see some of the pits that were left after Ed’s excavations. A number of these were discovered in 1966 when the electric company was laying conduit and found that the ground under the surface was softer than that on top.

This led them to dig more carefully and they discovered five quarries where Ed cut his rock. Some were filled with Ed’s carving mistakes as well as his tools that he made from found objects and repurposed car and truck parts. About a third of his tools are on display in the tool room on the first floor of the castle tower (See Item 3 above).

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Whether you arrive by tour bus, car or bike, you enter through the gift shop where you can buy copies of Ed’s pamphlets. (Photo Deborah Hartz-Seeley)

What else to expect when you visit the Coral Castle

In the parking lot, you may find buses. Yep, this is a tourist attraction. You pay your admission in the gift store. Then head outdoors to a covered patio with lots of electric fans in case it’s a hot day.

Take a seat on one of the wrought-iron benches or chairs to watch three documentary videos on a loop.

Although they are rather dated, they provide information on everything from the archaeological exploration of the site, to memories of Ed shared by a woman who was his friend and, finally, a look at the mystical questions the castle poses. Such as: Did aliens help Ed with his stonework? Did he levitate the stones into place?

You decide for yourself  

Of course, if you don’t believe in alien access or levitation, you might want to watch this old video that seems to show exactly how science, not magic, influenced Ed’s work. And online, you can find other videos debunking the myths.

But magic or science, either way the Coral Castle is something to see. If not a mystical place, then experience what Ed created as a folly or even a work of art.

Sources/Disclaimer: We visited the Coral Castle plus consulted the castle’s website and documentaries as well as Wikipedia entries and other online sources. Although it’s relatively easy to find information about Ed and his work, some of it is contradictory. We’ve tried to sift through what’s out there to create this piece. – DHS

If you go

WHERE: Coral Castle, 28655 S. Dixie Hwy., Homestead

ADMISSIONS: Adults (13 and up), $18 plus tax; children (7 through 12), $6 and (6 and under), free.

HOURS: Thursday through Sunday 9 a.m., to 6 p.m. with last tour at 5 p.m.

MORE INFORMATION: Coral Castle Museum; 305-248-6345

RAMBLER TIP: When a tour guide enters the video viewing area and announces he’s ready to take you through the Coral Castle, get up and go. The documentary videos will be there when you get back. But you can’t get into the castle itself without a guide being present.

And once the guide leaves the castle area, you have to go too. No lingering for a last look or to take photos. The castle, which was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, is considered an historic gem that needs protection. Please don’t touch or sit on anything while you are visiting.

Also, if it’s a hot day you may want to take one of the large umbrellas from the stand.

While visiting Coral Castle in Homestead

Homestead is home two national parks and is part of a rural agricultural community called the Redland. There are a number of things to see and do in the area. Here are Florida Rambler stories to help you plan your visit.

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Jack Farley

Saturday 8th of July 2023

Great story. I am amazed at the work and research done by Deborah. Her writing and organizing skills, not to mention the great photography, are outstanding.

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