The garden is named after Califia, the fictional warrior queen of the mythical Escondido, CA, and was inspired by California’s rich history and culture. It includes a circular enclosure, a maze entryway paved with mosaic tiles, ten large sculptures, and native trees and shrubs planted inside the plaza and around the outer wall. Three long benches with travertine marble and river rocks, designed by Pierre Marie LeJeune, are provided for visitor comfort.
The 120-foot diameter enclosed garden is part of a 12-acre (4.9 ha) habitat in Kit Carson Park’s Iris Sankey Arboretum and was opened to the public on October 26, 2003. Based on the availability of docents, the sculpture garden is only open a few days each week and is closed during rainy weather and for 24–48 hours afterward. Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden and the last major international project Niki de Saint Phalle created before her death in 2002. The installation showcases the artist’s signature designs, such as voluptuous female figures, hybrid creatures, and mythical symbols covered in vibrant mosaics. The bright color choices helped bring her work to life; Saint Phalle’s color choices and artwork served as a form of therapy that helped her cope with the traumas she had experienced throughout her life. Inspiration for this work came from the Califia legend and California’s myths and history. The artist was inspired by reading this legend in Assembling California, a book by Pulitzer Prize winner John McPhee describing the Golden State’s geologic history. Escondido, California, was chosen as the location for the garden for its semi-rural setting to set the tone perfectly. The city of Escondido has partnered with the artist to build and maintain the sculpture garden. A wire fence is not a part of the project but was installed to keep visitors away from broken mosaic pieces so that they might enjoy all aspects of the garden safely. The Coast News has acclaimed Queen Califia’s Magical Circle as one of the San Diego region’s cultural landmarks. The artist lived in the nearby San Diego community of La Jolla, CA, until her death in May 2002.
Queen Califia, Egg Fountain, and Eagle Throne
In the center of the garden is an 11-foot (3.4 m) mosaic sculpture of Queen Califia in gold glass armor, standing atop a 13-foot (4.0 m) eagle and raising a small bird above her head. Visitors can walk among the eagle’s five legs into a domed temple adorned with celestial symbols and plaques from another sculpture garden by Saint Phalle, the Tarot Garden. In the middle of the plaza is a golden egg-shaped fountain, which represents both Califia’s magical reign over the sea and the birth-death-transformation cycle that serves as a recurring theme in Saint Phalle’s works. EZ Escondido Junk Removal
Check out other attractions like San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum