Queen Califia’s Magical Circle Closes For Repairs


The exhibit is currently closed for large scale repairs and to prevent further damage.  There is no re-opening date set at this time. The City is working with the Niki Charitable Art Foundation to determine the extent of needed repairs and a timeframe for the exhibit to re-open.

Check back here for updates or…
call for further info: 760-839-4691


The only American sculpture garden and the last major international project created by Niki de Saint Phalle (born France, 1930-2002). Inspired by California’s mythic, historic and cultural roots, the garden consists of nine large-scale sculptures, a circular “snake” wall and maze entryway, sculpturally integrated bench seating, an egg shaped fountain and native shrubs and trees planted within the interior plaza and along the outer perimeter. The garden opened to the public on October 26, 2003.

The garden, like the state itself, takes its name from the legendary black Amazon queen, Califia, who was believed to rule a terrestrial island paradise of gold and riches. The legend was first popularized in the early 16th century romance novel, Las Sergas de Esplandian (The Exploits of Esplandian) that received wide circulation in Spain. Geologist John McPhee recounts the tale in his book Assembling California (1994), which Saint Phalle read and drew upon as a source for her initial ideas.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle bears the brilliant, unique mosaic ornamentation that is an unmistakable part of Saint Phalle’s later work. The garden uses a greater diversity of mosaic materials than any other of her large-scale projects. She personally selected dozens of varieties of glass of different shapes, color, hue, translucency and degrees of reflection. For the first time, she also used a wide assortment of polished and tumbled stones such as travertine, agates, quartzes and veined turquoise. The results are magical and ever changing, as the movement of light, wind, color and reflections continually transform the garden.

Situated within a 12-acre natural habitat, in the Iris Sankey Arboretum in Kit Carson Park, on a parcel of land donated by the City of Escondido. The park’s entrance is located five minutes from I-15 (Via Rancho Parkway Exit) at the corner of Bear Valley Parkway and Mary Lane.