The Fantasy World of Vizcaya

James Deering’s yacht would pull right up to the back of the estate:

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Looking out from the gazebo into Biscayne Bay:

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Brilliant built-in planters:

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

This part of the garden looks 500 years old.

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

It feels like an Indiana Jones movie here:

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Plenty of little lizards can be found sunning themselves:

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

My favorite shot.

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

They don’t make arches like this anymore:

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

A path, hidden by vegetation, contains surprise Sphinxes:

Villa Vizcaya - Miami Florida

Just after a torrential rain storm, the gardens surrounding Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida are a dream world. The contrast of shadows and sunlight, the new discoveries around every corner; it feels like nowhere else in the world.

Built over the years 1914 to 1923 by James Deering, an heir to part of the International Harvester fortune, Vizcaya was an ambitious project. Designed in the Italian Renaissance style, the estate originally comprised 180 acres and required over 1,000 workers to complete. The house is spectacular though probably over-decorated and impractical. An open-air courtyard style house, preservation (ie Hurricanes) required that the courtyard be enclosed and storm windows placed over the original windows. No doubt the house and gardens require an enormous amount of money to maintain and the whole property feels a little like an ancient relic just discovered in the middle of a rain forest. No photos of the interior are allowed, but the gardens are the best part; the work of landscape architect Diego Suarez, the formal gardens cover 10 acres. They must have looked incredible at their peak, just before Deering’s death, in 1925.