Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is located near the small town of San Simeon, which was close to where we were staying at Morro Bay. William Randolph Hearst, whose father made his fortune in silver, made his own vast fortune in the publishing business. His parents owned this California property near San Simeon and had a working cattle ranch on it since 1865. As a boy, Hearst grew to love this country hilltop with its expansive views of the California coastline.

When W. R. Hearst inherited this property in 1919, he hired California architect, Julia Morgan to design this grand home, which he called his ‘Enchanted Hill”. They worked for 28 years creating this amazing Mediterranean Revival Style estate which showcases Hearst’s extensive European art collections.

Casa Grande – the Big House – is 69,000 square feet and has 115 rooms. It is constructed of concrete and steel, faced in white limestone and is nearly earthquake proof.


The Big House has twin bell towers and a carved teak gable and was inspired by a Spanish cathedral.


There are three ‘guest houses’ that sit clustered around the main house courtyard……


These ‘guest houses’, with their multiple stories and terraces were each an amazing creation.


The view, which Hearst considered the main attraction of his hilltop, is breathtaking…….



W. R. Hearst was known for his collections of European art. Some would even say that he was a ‘shop-a-holic’, as he spent untold amounts of money to acquire his collections. This room in the Big House was built to showcase his 17th century tapestries. Hearst, being the newspaper man that he was, loved the ‘story telling’ aspect of tapestries, calling them the newspapers of their day.



This room also houses several of the ‘Venuses’. The one in the corner in the photo on the left would be valued, today, at over 20 million dollars. The Venus in the right photo is from 100 AD……..imagine!


This dining room was the inspiration for the one pictured in the ‘Harry Potter’ movies.


Hearst charged Julia Morgan with the task of using his art collections in the architectural design. Here, these church choir pews are used as wainscoting.


And centuries old Spanish ceiling panels were incorporated in some of the rooms…..


As were carvings and  tile work……….


Hearst loved to entertain – I think, as much to show off his collections as to just bring interesting people together. His parties would include the movie stars of his day- Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, and others, and, of course the beautiful leading ladies  - as well as singers and directors…..anyone who was ‘someone’ at that time came to the Hearst Castle.


They would come and stay…… and play at the estate…….


The outdoor areas of the ‘Enchanted Hill’ were just as amazing……and also showcased amazing art…..


Then, of course, there were the pools……The Neptune pool was named for the statue that sits atop the temple structure, which is supported by Ancient Roman columns dating from 100 AD. This pool ranges from 3 – 10 feet deep and holds 345,000 gallons of water.


The Roman Pool is an indoor pool which sits under the tennis courts. It is 10 feet deep and holds 205,000 gallons of water.


For over 50 years, the Hearst Estate has been maintained by the California State Parks, and has been open to the public. The Hearst Castle Estate can only be described as ‘fantastic’……one walks around this estate marveling at the lavish design and the incredible collections of art.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the beautiful tour. We stopped there several years ago but missed the last tour of the day. It is someplace I hope to visit in the future.