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Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida

 

Jilted Latvian eccentrics and world-famous wetlands? We can only be talking about Homestead, Florida.

 

Homestead is a very interesting place, for a lot of reasons. Located at the extreme southern tip of the state, Homestead is often thought of as the gateway to the Florida Keys. There are a wide variety of unique activities to partake in in Homestead, including an underwater park, an alligator farm, and the Homestead/Miami Speedway. Homestead is also bordered by Biscayne Bay National Park (which means there are ample SCUBA diving opportunities) and Everglades National Park (which means there is plenty of swampland and alligators). The amenities to be found in Homestead itself are not that noteworthy, but this is made up for by the wonders that it hides. The most interesting of these wonders is without a doubt Coral Castle.

 

Coral Castle is a giant monument (which really does resemble a castle) built out of megalithic stones – most of which are coral. It was built by a Latvian immigrant named Edward Leedskalnen after his fiancée broke off their engagement in their native Latvia. Heartbroken, Leedskalnen dashed off to America, where he began working on a triumph to his lost love: Coral Castle. The castle’s purpose was twofold: to impress his former fiancée (keeping with a long tradition of men doing baffling things to impress women) and also to protect his privacy (Ed had previously settled in Texas and other parts of Florida, but left as soon as neighbors moved in). There are many impressive things about the castle, but most impressive (and mysterious) is how Leedskalnen actually built the thing. Weighing only 100 lbs and using no heavy machinery, theories abound on how he managed to assemble a giant castle of rock, with some of the individual slabs weighing literally tons (and stories saying that he did it all himself). Since he built it at night under the cover of darkness, it’s impossible to tell exactly how he built it – but one thing is certain: it is really damn cool.

 

The next time you want to see something impressive, hop in a Millenium Limo (you can’t go see a castle unless you travel by limo – it’s the law) and go to Hollywood to check out Coral Castle. You may be inspired to build a gigantic monument to failures of your own.