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Queen Califia's Magical Circle, Escondido

Categories: Monuments, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
4.3/5 based on 110+ reviews on the web
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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  • This attraction is located in Kit Carson State Park. Many locals don't even know about it. Very minimal hours--four mornings a week plus one Sat. morning a month. Near the San Diego Wild Animal park. 
  • I fell in love with this NIki de Saint Phalle masterpiece before it was built. Once while driving up I-5 a pick-up truck of one of her pieces cam south and I was so tickled and amazed by it I almost d...  read more »
  • I have been to Queen Califia's Magic Circle many times and enjoy the way I can walk around the art work and experience it directly. I am somewhat of a rockhound and there are many semi-precious stones...  read more »
  • You have to see it to believe it. If your on the area go here. They have specific hours but it is totally worth it.
  • To get inside you need a docent which requires an appointment. But, this place is so cool and the story about its creation is worth the effort. It's a huge installation art piece and it will blow your mind.
  • I have no idea what this art 'means' or is about but even so it's very impressive work. It is definitely something you should check out. I think it may be currently under repairs.
  • Great mosaics on display. Check website before coming they are only open every second Saturday of the month from 9:00-12:00...
  • Sculpture garden created by world-class artist Nikki de Saint Phalle! What a magical place. It is a maze and I imagine it must be incredible to view from the perspective of a child. I wish I could go back in time just to see it as a youngster! The bold colors, shiny materials and smooth surfaces invite you to play within this interactive art piece. My only wish is that there was an adult version with high walls and corridors that last forever. But I'm not subtracting stars for that! (I can't believe this place is any less than 5 stars!) For (wo)man-made beauty you don't have to go inside to view.. check this place out. Great for kids, an outdoor space, artful. Like a mash-up of Gaudi's garden, Chagall's Four Seasons and Candyland.
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