The Hearst Castle

Photo courtesy of 6 Kiss Travel
Photo courtesy of 6 Kiss Travel

When I think of holiday destinations, I always remember when my family and I visited the Hearst Castle back in 1974. Visiting that amazing castle was one of the most breath taking experiences I have ever had. The splendor of the Hearst Castle is nothing short of amazing. The treasures from around the world that compose the Hearst Castle are so incredible that this enchanted wonderland could only compare with some of the most beautiful castles in Europe. There in the heart of San Simeon in the coastal highway of California is one of the most breathtaking places in America.

The History of The Hearst Castle

William Randolf Hearst

The Hearst Castle is the ultimate creation of publishing mogul, William Randolf Hearst. Heart amassed impressive art collections that included many paintings, oriental rugs, religious textiles, sculptures, silver, furniture and antique ceilings. He had collected so much that his vast collection is not only part of the Hearst Castle, but it was also placed in his other properties and what he couldn't keep, in his various residences, he kept in warehouse in the east and west coast. If one goes to the Hearst Castle, one can see that Mr. Hearst must have amassed many treasures, because the castle has room after room of priceless collections from around the world.

Mr. Hearst dreamed of building a dwelling similar to the magnificent castles he had seen when he toured Europe as a child. The Hearst Castle was the realization of this dream. For the project he hired architect, Julia Morgan, who worked on making this project a reality for twenty eight years. Hearst used the castle as his primary residence and there he entertained the Hollywood elite as well as political and sports personalities. Due to illness, in 1947 Mr. Hearst had to leave his dream castle to seek medical help, he later died in 1951.

Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan was the first woman to graduate from the University of California in Berkly, with a degree in civil engineering. Ms. Morgan then went on to open her own architectural firm in 1904. She was very successful and one of Morgan's first architectural commissions was to remodel and complete the Phoebe Hearst Hacienda del Pozo de Verona in Pleasanton, California.

It was Ms. Morgan's style of architecture that set her apart. Her style centered on using California vernacular mixed with distinct arts and crafts, the included exposed support beams and horizontal lines that blended with the landscape, an exclusive use of shingles, California Redwood and earth tones. Her uniqueness and ability to see past the ordinary caught the attention of Mr. Hearst, who hired Ms. Morgan in 1919 to design the Hearst Castle, a project that took twenty eight years to realize. Ms. Morgan retired in 1950 and died in 1957.

How this Dream Castle Came to Be

In 1865 George Hearst purchased forty thousand acres of ranch land, later in 1919 his only son William Randolf Hearst inherited the land from his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst. Through his entrepreneurial abilities William Hearst was able to expand the property to encompass 250,000 acres of land. This was a place where the Hearst family and their friends would go on camping trips. Even though this camping trips reflected the luxurious life style enjoyed by the Hearst family, William Hearst yearned for something more.

Mr. Hearst then went to the very talented architect, Julia Morgan with one simple instruction " Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in Saint Simeon and I would like to build a little something." Together they set of to build one the most amazing castles in the world. The castle has 165 rooms, 127 acres of beautiful gardens, as well as breath taking terraces, pools and walkways. Deserving the name, Hearst later gave his property, and that was the Enchanted Hill.

The Heart Castle is the home of such magnificent artistic treasures as the Three Graces, Neptune, The Marriage Chest, The Constance of Scipio, Nine Muses of Sarcophagus, and others. The Hearst Castle is also famous for the Neptune Pool, a project that took twelve years to build. It is one of the largest of approximately 5000 house museums in the United States. Once a private residence, the Hearst Castle was donated by the Hearst Corporation to the people of the State of California in 1957. It has been one of California's greatest tourist attractions, since the dedication ceremony held on June 2, 1958.

YouTube video by CaliforniaTravelTips

Information for those wanting to Visit the Hearst Castle

For those visiting the Hearst Castle, for the first time, it is recommended that you go on tour one, of the various tours offered. The duration of this tour is one hour and forty five minutes, this includes the bus ride to and from the castle. On this tour first time visitors get to see the Casa Del Sol, an eighteen room guest house facing the Pacific Coastline, The Neptune Pool & Roman Pool, beautiful gardens, and last but not least the Casa Grande, this is the main house.

In the Casa Grande one gets to see the Assembly room, the largest four sitting rooms, the Refectory, which is the main dining room of the Hearst Castle, the Morning Room which is furnished with many Spanish antiques, the Billiard room and last but not least the Theater, which is the largest room of Casa Grande. 

If you have already experienced the magic of tour one, you may want to try tour two which focuses more on the architectural elements, as well as the works of art contained in the Casa Grande. Tour 2 also include the Doge Suite, the kitchen and pantry, the library, as well as the Neptune Pool and Roman Pool. 

There are also three other tours that focus on other elements of this vast and marvelous castle. On all tours guests are required to spend time outside as well as inside the castle. Since California weather can vary, it is recommended that guests wear various layers of clothing, and comfortable footwear. On the tours guests are required to stand for long periods of time as well as climb and walk. Visitors with special medical considerations should look into the the accessibly designed tour, or check at the visitor center to know the hilltop temperatures. 

The accessibility tour is similar to tour one, but without having to take any stairs and the guests may either bring their own wheel chairs or borrow one from the facility. If the visitor is able to walk, they can do so at a slow pace using the ramps. Trams are also used to escort the visitors on the tour route. So if you have a special need or just hate climbing stairs, you may want to consider taking the accessibility tour. 

You can purchase tickets at the visitor center, but in order to secure a place it is wise that you reserve in advance either online or by calling their toll free number. There is also reduced pricing for those taking a group tour. 

If you are looking for a great holiday destination, and are in California, then go to take a ride along the breath taking California coastal highways to San Simeon and experience the splendor of the lovely road side motels, many with indoor pools to be enjoyed year round and a scenery that you will never forget.  I still have fond memories of that holiday with my family and that was over thirty five years ago. Make your next holiday a memorable one and go visit a castle, the most beautiful castle in America, the unforgettable Hearst Castle. 

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Comments 32 comments

Angelique Loux profile image

Angelique Loux 6 years ago from Ohio

This castle is breath taking beautiful. Great hub.


Corin profile image

Corin 6 years ago

I visited Hearst Castle 10 years ago and your hub reminded me of this great visit. It was awesome.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Angelique, I agree it is breath taking beautiful. I was so awed by the Hearst Castle that I still treasure the memories of going there today.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Corin, the Hearst Castle is unforgettable, when I was doing the research for this hub, the photos brought back some wonderful memories for me also.


Russell-D profile image

Russell-D 6 years ago from Southern Ca.

Living in the Pacific Palisades, near what we call Avenue Z America, we pop on the Pacific Coast Hwy (PCH) and head North. The Castle visit is a great day especially with out of towners. Also, there are so many cost-effective overnight motels within a half hour drive, that staying over to walk the beach, interact with hundreds of seals, eat great clam chowder plus other surprisingly dishes, window shop hundreds of quaint shops, makes a Caste visit and its area a wonderful weekend get away. David Russsell


mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 6 years ago

I was near there but we didn't get the chance to visit Hearst Castle. I'll keep my fingers crossed that I get to go back there.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you David, I am so happy for you, getting to live in Pacific Palisade must be like a dream, it is so beautiful there. To think that for you visiting the Hearst Castle is only a drive away must really sweeten the experience for you. I'm glad you enjoyed my hub. Lucky you.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thanks for stopping by mulberry. I hope you do get a chance to go there, because it is worth it. I only got to go once and I wish I could go back. I bet you must have found the Big Sur amazing.


Angela_1973 profile image

Angela_1973 6 years ago

I agree, I was there 9 years ago, it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Beautiful article!


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Angela_1973, all I can see is that it's been almost thirty six years since I went there and it still takes my breath away. Wish I could come visit it again, it's one of my best childhood memories.


vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 6 years ago

A great hub! I loved the video...The castle is definitely a place to visit if one has the opportunity!!!


Ron 6 years ago

Uhmm, is it ... haunted?


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Vox vocis, I liked the video to, although it is nothing compared to being there.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thanks for stopping by Ron. I have heard rumors about the castle being haunted. It's been publicized that "Citizen Kane" was a movie that chronicled the life of the late William Hearst, and given some of his eccentricities, having a haunted palace as a legacy is fitting.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Great hub - the castle looks and feels like something out of Europe. You have done a spectacular job representing what Hearst tried and did achieve with it. Citizen Kane does seem fitting as you point out.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Billy, for all your kind words and complements. Citizen Kane was kind of an enigmatic movie, yet a very interesting look into the man's soul.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Hi Internetwriter62 - Loved the beautiful pictures and description of this scenic castle. My husband is from So. California so maybe one day we'll get out there and check it out. Enjoyable hub.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Peg, I really owe the picture to a some talented photographer, I tried to find the name to give him or her credit, but couldn't find the name.

If you both ever want to plan on a romantic weekend, let me tell you, the big sur is amazing, the ocean hitting the rocks is unforgettable and breath taking, the scenery is marvelous, the seaside hotels and motels are very nice and there plenty of cozy eating places for a couple to enjoy a romantic weekend, the prices were not too bad either. I hope you both have the opportunity, because it is worth the drive or plane trip.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

Wow...I have to visit the castle when I get around to visiting the West Coast. It might be a little overwhelming for me, but it still sounds like a memorable experience. And the natural setting you describe makes it all worth it. I never even knew it existed--thanks for shedding light on this place!


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Benny, I am glad to be the one to introduce you to the Hearst Castle. I think this will be a great experience for you, it is an adventurous person's dream come true. It has scenery, mystery and beauty, it is definitely worth the effort. I hope you get the opportunity to go there soon.


bat115 profile image

bat115 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Internetwriter62, I've been to the Hearst Castle only once about 10 years ago but Your words did a good job at transporting me back!

I'm glad you mention the accessibility tour as I have a wheelchair-bound friend who has been wanting to see this place. Have they always had that? I honestly can't remember hearing about it before reading this hub.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you batt115, I went to the Hearst Castle back in 1974, when I was twelve and I have never had the opportunity to go back since then, wish I could go again.

As to the accessibility tour, it seems that they have added that recently, although since I didn't need a wheelchair it may have existed longer and I just learn of this from their official web site, while doing research. I think it is a good thing that they have made it possible for everyone to enjoy the tour and I'm glad your friend can go and enjoy this very beautiful castle.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

I just love castles. Didn't know about this one. Thanks for writing about it. Last year we traveled to Scotland and got to see some incredible castles - stirling, Edinburgh and others. Thanks for a great hub.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Elayne001, I agree castles are one of the best things in life, I wouldn't want to clean one, but they are awesome to visit. Scotland must have been exiting, I wish I could go there. I hope you get to visit the Hearst Castle, it is worth it.


EverythingMouse profile image

EverythingMouse 6 years ago

A great hub about a truly fascinating place. I have visited a couple of times. I am used to the castles of Europe but this one was still spectacular.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you EverythingMouse, You are so lucky, you not only got to visit the Hearst Castle more than once, but you also got to experience the splendor of the castles in Europe as well. I think castles are spectacular places and I wish I could go back to the Hearst Castle and see the big sur again. The scenery is beautiful.


triosol profile image

triosol 6 years ago

Very beautiful Castle. Great hub.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Triosol, Glad you liked it. I'm glad you enjoyed visiting the Hearst Castle it is an amazing place.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I remember visiting Hearst Castle in the 1970's and how I wanted to live there. Your hub has brought back all it's magnificence and beauty that I remember. Great hub!


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 5 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thanks for stopping by Susan. I was mesmerized when I visited the Hearst Castle with my family back in 1974, the place just awes all visitors. I'm glad my hub brought back some great memories and I'm glad you enjoyed it.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

I went there when I was a kid. I loved it. Thanks for the trip back in time.

- Harlan


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 5 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Harlan it is so nice to hear from you. I always appreciate your comments, I have learned a lot from you. I took a trip back in time when I wrote this. This place is attached to some of my most precious memories. Glad you liked my hub.

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