Tuesday, March 23, 2010


We visited the Center of the World and were given a tour of the area by Felicia Istel.

Jacques-Andre Istel is a gracious, well-mannered man with a vision. Maybe a crazy vision, but a vision nonetheless. He saw this barren wasteland while serving as a Marine in the Korean War and fell in love with it. With money made from his successful parachut schools he bought thousands of acres of the desert near Yuma but across the border in California.

In the 1980's he finally decided what he wanted to do with this land. He convinced Imperial County, CA to legally recognize a spot on his property as the official Center of the World. The center of the world can be anywhere. It was set by law, based upon a popular book for children - who argues with a fairy tale? The book is Coe the Good Dragon written by Mr. Istel. He named the town Felicity after his wife, Felicia.

Mr. Istel needed a way to mark his Center and his wife said that since it is in the desert, why not a pyramid. So he had a 21 foot tall, hollow, mirror-lined, pink granite pyramid built over The Spot, which is a dot in the center of a bronze disk in the pyramid's floor.

When you visit the pyramid, you step on the Spot and receive a certificate that states you stood at the Official Center of the World, with the date and time.

The sundial is a bronze sculpture of God's Arm from Michaelangelo's Dawn of Creation painting in the Sistine Chapel. The finger points toward the Church on the Hill. Mr. Astel said that if you're going to build a House of God, it's got to be on the highest spot. So he had 150,000 tons of earth trucked in and piled up to create a hill.

He added a sculpture at the entrance to Felicity which is Section 12 of the original stairway of the Eiffel Tower.

He has also undertaken a massive chore in creating his World Commemorative Center which consists of engravings in granite panels highlights of the collective memory of humanity. You will need to visit this center in order to truly understand and appreciate what Mr. Istel has accomplished.


  1. I sat in the truck while Doug did the self tour. He agrees, the man is crazy!

  2. Another one to add to my Bucket List.


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