The Hearst Castle: A small world in itself

North America | | November 3, 2010 at 12:10 am


A time case preserving the lavishness of the early zenith of Hollywood at 250 miles from Los Angeles, the Hearst Castle is a wealthy asset that is undoubtedly converted into a historic monument. It came into focus when Mr. William Randolph Hearst who was known in the domain of newspapers, politics, and film industry got this rich estate from his father, Mr. George Hearst who was a rich miner. Now, we know how the castle got its name. The son then asked the popular architect Julia Morgan to make a residence on the California coast. The architect then ended up by instilling some expensive tastes as well as the finest European art and décor after 18 years making it look like a palace, rather than a home. This is called the Casa Grande, the Hearst Castle that is now the crown of the La Cuesta Encantada, meaning the ‘Enchanted Hill’ soaring over the small San Simeon.

The palatial property then expanded to cover more than 90,000 square feet including a main edifice, several lavish pools, and three guest houses. In the decades of 20s and 30s, the Hearst Castle played a role of a playground as well as a weekend hangout for Hearst’s Hollywood friends and other VIPs such as Winston Churchill. However, after the demise of Hearst, the family donated the castle to the California state that now well maintains the complex with a gift shop, tours, and educational films provide a look at the opulent and early Hollywood life.

Today, the Hearst Castle is Moorish edifice with 165 rooms within and 127 acres of gardens, pools, three big guest houses, walkways, and terraces outside all adorned with the Spanish as well as the Italian antiques and art. During its glory days, there also used to be tennis courts, a zoo, and two superb swimming pools. One of the main attractions of the estate is the outdoor Neptune Pool close to hilltop’s edge. From here, you can enjoy a rich view of the mountains, house, and the ocean. The pool’s patio holds an old Roman temple front that was actually transported from Europe and was then remade here. Due to the habit of Hearst of tearing down the structures and remaking them for complete satisfaction, the estate was never fully made during his lifetime.

Need to know things

There are five tours offered by the Hearst Castle Tours and are famous among the first-time tourists. It includes 5 ground floor rooms; Casa de Sol with its 18 rooms, gardens, and the Esplanade; and Building the Dream film. Tour Two gives you details on art and architecture in the main house taking you to its upper floors adorned with the Italian suite, library, kitchen, four guest rooms, and Hearst’s private suite. Tour Three offers an outline of the construction while you explore the former guest house, latest North Wing, Casa del Monte with its 10 rooms, grand entrance, north terrace, and a short film different from the one shown in Tour One. Tour Four available from April to October lays emphasis on the gardens, wine cellar, a hidden terrace, Casa del Mar, and the Neptune pool dressing rooms. Lastly, Tour Five is an Evening Tour that is a combination of the above tours and includes Casa de Sol and a 1930s newsreel. This is the most recommended one in the springs and fall mostly on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

All these tours offer a 1.5 mile walk and a hike of 150 to 400 stairs. Further, you will also come across the tours that are sold out more in summer. Just book your tickets in advance for no disappointment later at the ticket office. Do not come with pets here. Strollers are prohibited on the tour. Further, there are a plethora of things that you are not supposed to touch. Therefore, take care of this with the children, feed them, and make sure that they maintain silence. If you are coming here in summer, make sure that have a sunscreen and hat along with the water as the temperature soars up to 30 degrees atop the hill.

Just ensure that you explore the Hearst Castle Theater where a 40-minute show reveals the tale of the castle in a larger format. Here, the screen is eight times bigger than the conventional screen. It is well equipped with digital surround sound. And yes, relax! You need not book your reservations here.

  • Hours:
    Daily, except Christmas, New Year, and Thanksgiving
  • Reservations:
    Yes; Do so online or via the phone – 800-444-4445
  • Cost:
    Yes as per the tour and is subject to change
  • Location:
    At San Simeon, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles
  • Tour Duration:
    2 hours and additional time to see the movie
  • Best Time:
    Spring and fall, avoid summers, and for eye-soothing decorations, come on Christmas
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