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Queen Califia's Magical Circle, Escondido

(130+ reviews on the web)
Monument
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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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • This is a unique and gorgeous artistic garden of the imagination originated by international artist Niki de Saint Phalle. Unfortunately, she died the year before it opened and was not able to see the ...  more »
  • This little park is the definition of a hidden gem. When you're here, take your time and appreciate all the creativity and the hard work that this person did . This is like a little imagination park s...  more »
  • This little known place was a fantastic place to visit. They have very limited access times, so we got lucky we visited on a day and time they were open. The mosaic sculptures were beautiful. It's a p...  more »
Google
  • 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! (!!!)
  • The art docent that was there that day was really helpful, and I had a huge download of information when he explained the history and the ties to the name of California. If you're within a 50 mile radius, it's worth the trip!!!!
  • An amazing work of art set in the arboretum section of Kit Carson Park. It was damaged by teens, so they had to put up fencing around it and limit access to it in order to protect it from further damage. One of the last works by Niki de Phalle, and well worth the visit to this lovely park and sports complex. Always free to enter this Park, and playing at the golf course there is free too!
  • This place is truly a treasure! Niki de Saint Phalle's last public work before her passing. Words can't describe my adoration.
  • Always closed, never open, looked so cool, please open. I would love this park when it's open, I feel so bad! 😞😞😞😞😞😞😞