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Queen Califia's Magical Circle, Escondido

4.5
#5 of 38 in Things to do in Escondido
Monument · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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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 traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
181 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • This place was a bit hard to find. Had to drive around a bit, could use better sign direction. A short walk from the parking lot. Definitely very talented, creative and very unique. There were people....  more
    This place was a bit hard to find. Had to drive around a bit, could use better sign direction. A short walk from the parking lot. Definitely very talented, creative and very unique. There were people....  more »
  • It is brilliant & a must see! What a wonderful surprise in the middle of Kit Carson Park. They still don't know where all of the stones came from. 
    It is brilliant & a must see! What a wonderful surprise in the middle of Kit Carson Park. They still don't know where all of the stones came from.  more »
Google
  • This is one of the most beautiful parks i have ever seen. A hidden gem that my kids loved. We did a nice trail walk to get there and they played for hours. It's free with select hours and certain days do be sure to check before you go but worth the trip.
  • This one of 3 of these sculpture gardens- however, it is the only one in the US! It starts out with a fun little black and white maze in the entrance before opening to a courtyard full of dazzling sculptures! The walk from the parking lot to the entrance is about a 3 minute walk on a dirt trail! There is also a lake within walking distance. Make sure to check that it is open before you go as it is only open certain days and times!

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