Queen Califia's Magical Circle, Escondido

4.4
Queen Califia's Magical Circle is a sculpture garden located in Escondido, California. It is one of the last works of French artist Niki de Saint Phalle. The garden is named after Califia, the fictional warrior queen of the mythical Island of California, and inspired by California's rich history and culture. It includes a circular wall and maze entryway, ten large sculptures, and native trees and shrubs planted both inside the plaza and around the outer wall.The garden is part of a 12-acre habitat in Kit Carson Park's Iris Sankey Arboretum, and was opened to the public on October 26, 2003.The sculpture garden is only open the second Saturday of each month while undergoing repairs.Materials and constructionThe garden's wall is covered mostly in Mexican pebble stones, while the snakes and other sculptures are clad in many thousands of hand-cut glass, ceramic and stone mosaic tiles. Some wall segments are also decorated with ceramic plaques engraved with Native American rock art and other symbols, as well as handprints and signatures from Saint Phalle's family and art team. Queen Califia herself is embellished with hand-cut mirrored glass, while the fountain uses gold leaf glass and is controlled by a solar-powered pump.The wall, maze and sculptures were constructed using polystyrene encased in a polyurethane skin, with applied fiberglass coating over a steel armature. The designs were based on Saint Phalle's original maquettes, with the aid of computer modeling and prototyping. The artist began work on Queen Califia in 2000. After her death, completion of the work was overseen by Niki's granddaughter, Bloum Cardenas, and her longtime assistants. This was Saint Phalle's last major project.
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Queen Califia's Magical Circle Reviews
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TripAdvisor
  • This is a fabulous sculpture garden by Niki St Phalle. This is her fourth major installation. It is extremely creative, colourful, and tells many great stories. The medium and material is also unique....  more »
  • Niki de Saint Phalle has created a beautiful, whimsical, magical sculpture garden in the middle of Kit Carson Park in Escondido. It allows the imagination an outlet and makes you marvel at the vast nu...  more »
  • quality work but strange subject. Not much to do except a quick look around. Not sure what the purpose is except wild imagination.  more »
Google
  • I absolutely LOVED this place and I look forward to see her other works around the World. Thank you to the Lady, the guide that was there and answered ALL my questions, gave me a brouchure and lrt Me read her book in french. I would strongly reccomend visiting this place.
  • We love art and getting our kids exposed to as much culture as possible. Every detail is amazing. They are only open Tuesday and Thursday 9am to 12pm plus rhe 2nd Saturday of every month. It is very beautiful
  • Really cool. Her last piece of public art. Worth the 30 minute trip from San Diego central.
  • Fun place to go sit and look around! Great place for photos
  • What a beautiful place!! The hours and day availability is limited (9-12 Tuesday - Friday) but if you're able to visit you definitely should. The statues and artwork is breathtaking and even more amazing in person. BTW it's free admission! (!!!)

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Where to stay in Escondido

Like many California cities, Escondido is spread out. Downtown lodgings are close to dining and transportation. If the purpose of your visit is to see one of the notable attractions outside of downtown, then consider staying near the attraction.
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