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Queen Califia's Magical Circle, Escondido
(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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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Never would have guessed that this place could be so interesting. Once you learn a little about the history of this place and the lady who made it happen, the place becomes very intriguing. Glad we lo...  more »
  • Fantastic art and sculpture park. Well worth the time to find. It's a little tricky as the signs in the Kit Carson park are not very clear! 
  • Googled things to do north of San Diego. This came up. Friends and family were not aware of this gem in their near by community. To look at these amazing mosaics only wants one to know more about them...  more »
Google
  • standing from outside a locked gate, it looked magical...but again the gate was locked. No where on any website or even yelp did we find listed hours. we had arrived at around 3/3:30 pm with a 3 1/2 year old and 1 year old with much anticipation to find it locked with posted hours that are not conducive to bringing out of town guests. Don't get me wrong, I can see why its locked - vandals would have a heyday, I'm glad its locked but I would of appreciated the advertising of its hours before making the 30 minute drive only to have a frustrated preschooler and disappointed mom (and aunt).
  • 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.
  • It's a beautiful place, interesting and a little treasure in the middle of nowhere. My only complaint is that it's open only during very limited hours, something like 9-12 m-f. You either have to not have a job or be on vacation
  • The mosaic garden is open Tuesday- Friday from 9-12. Very beautiful work of art. Her sculptures are spread all over SD .