- Travel and Places»
- Specialty Travel & Tours
The Hearst Castle
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 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.