Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is open to the public weekly, with free entrance. Kids of ALL ages love this park… bring your family, friends, imaginations and cameras! Docents will be on hand for questions on 2nd Saturday dates. *Weather permitting.
Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden and the last major international project created by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle (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 and native shrubs and trees planted within the interior plaza and along the outer perimeter. The garden bears the brilliant, unique mosaic ornamentation that is an unmistakable part of de Saint Phalle’s later work.
Regular (non-holiday) Open Hours and Other Info:
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00am to Noon
2nd and 4th Saturdays, 9:00am to 2:00pm
Free entrance. Weather permitting*.
For more info, please call 760-839-4000.
(Hours subject to change and the site will be closed on major holidays.)
*After recent rain or heavy fog, there is chance that the sculpture garden will be closed, due to safety issues, usually 24-48 hours after a rain event, while it dries.
About Queen Califia’s Magical Circle:
The City of Escondido has completed Phase I of its repairs of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in Kit Carson Park and has reopened the internationally famous sculpture garden to the public on a limited basis.
Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden and the last major international project created by Niki de Saint Phalle (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, sculptural integrated bench seating, and native shrubs and trees planted within the interior plaza and along the outer perimeter. The garden bears the brilliant, unique mosaic ornamentation that is an unmistakable part of Saint Phalle’s later work.
Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is 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.
The sculpture garden’s key architectural features are an undulating circular wall measuring 400 feet in length (with varying heights from 4 to 9 feet) that surrounds the garden. Monumental playful serpents, decorated in colorfully patterned mosaics, slither along the top of the wall, their curved bodies forming a pattern of solids and voids that allows visitors to see landscape vistas beyond the garden. The “snake wall” opens into a maze whose walls and floors are covered with black, white, and mirrored tiles. Once through the maze, visitors enter into the central courtyard.
There are nine freestanding sculptures in the garden. The imposing mosaic sculpture of Queen Califia standing on the back of a five-legged eagle commands the center of the garden. Eight large totemic sculptures surround Queen Califia. They 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.
*The exhibit will not open during rain and inclement weather. The Garden will be open to the public Tuesdays, Thursdays and on the Second Saturday of each month, from 9am to 12-noon, weather permitting. Docents will be available to answer questions on Second Saturdays. The exhibit will be closed on holidays. The exhibit will be closed for bad weather (rain, or imminent threat of rain) until the sculpture is thoroughly dry (this may take a day or so). After a rain event, the sculpture garden may be closed for 24-48 hours to allow the area to dry. The tiles can be very slippery when wet.
The sculpture garden is located in Kit Carson Park
in the Iris Sankey Arboretum
Kit Carson Park
3333 Bear Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA 92025
More information, PDFs:
Press Release (original opening): Niki de Saint Phalle’s Queen Califia’s Magical Circle Opens in Escondido, California, October 26, 2003
Queen Califia’s Magical Circle Fact Sheet
Niki de Saint Phalle’s International Workshop Team
Niki de Saint Phalle’s Collection in San Diego
Niki de Saint Phalle Chronology (1930-2002)