Queen Califia’s Magic Circle: a magical mosaic garden in Escondido, California
Located in the wine country region of Escondido in San Diego is the unique mosaic garden of Queen Califia’s Magic Circle. This magical garden is so over the top and wonderfully created by local artisans that help to create the artist, Niki de Saint Phalle’s vision of this beautiful creation explaining her vision of Queen Califia and who she represents the Island of California to be.
** During Covid times the garden may be closed but you can check the website here for more details on when it will be opened again and the scheduled hours for visiting the garden.
What is Queen Califia’s Magic Cirle?
Relating to the California stories of Queen Califia, an imposing figure sitting on top of a five legged Eagle with a golden staff held up high. This garden symbolizes the fictional warrior queen who rules over a kingdom of black women and lives on the island of California an untamed land of significant beauty and bounty unchanged until the arrival of Europeans to California.
The creator of the garden, Niki de Saint Phalle is a world reknown mosaic artist artist/designer who collaborated who created this fantasy garden space with some local builders to create this fantastic sculpture garden. Niki de Saint Phalle dedicated this mosaic garden to the city of Escondido and San Diego as a tribute to her living the rest of her retirement in the area.
How to get to the Queen Califia’s Magic Circle
Queen Califia’s Magic Circle is located in the Iris Sankey Arboretum in Escondido’s Kit Carson Park. To get to the park entrance take the Via Rancho Parkway exit from I-15 at the intersection of Bear Valley Parkway and Mary Lane and follow the signs to the parking area.
Enter through the maze and interior court of the magic circle
To get through the inner courtyard, you have to walk around a mosaic black and white maze which is easy and then you enter the colorful center with all the imaginary creations standing regally around Queen Califia’s circle – it’s filled with giant serpents, eagles, a collection of fantasy animals.
The park is a joy to walk through and experience all the beautiful mosaic tilework, sculpture and large scale forms. You’ll find a vibrant combination of glass, tiles and other materials used to create the beautiful textures and graphic design in each of the creatures and imaginary characters.
Key features to the magic circle garden
The sculpture garden’s key architectural features are contained within an undulating circular wall and surrounds the garden like a protective shell. Inside and through the maze area your find some monumental playful serpents which are decorated beautiful and painstakingly applied tile mosaics. The snakes slither along the top of the wall protecting the inner courtyard with it’s interior mazed covered with black, white and mirrored tiles.
When you enter into the central courtyard you’ll find more colorful creatures and nine freestanding sculptures in the garden. In the central part of the garden sits the imposing mosaic sculpture of Queen Califia standing on the back of a five-legged eagle commands the center of the garden. And surrounding her are eight large totemic sculptures that protect her and are covered with symbols and forms freely drawn from Native American, Pre-Columbian, and Mexican art as well as the artist’s own fantastic imagery.
Wouldn’t you love to explore Queen Califia’s Magic Circle?
Have you been here or want to explore this amazing mosaic garden? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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What else to see around Escondido area
The wine country city of Escondido to the North of San Diego is bustling with wineries, craft beer breweries and a fantastic slice out Southern California and San Diego living. Check out this post on the top things to do around Escondido here for more details and images to visiting the area.
If you are also exploring more of the San Diego area and looking for things to do, check out this post on the top 40 things to do in San Diego now for cool places to visit and what to do around the city.