Monday, March 27, 2017

Hearst Castle

March 2017 - San Simeon CA

Hearst Castle has always been on my bucket list. It was closed in 1997 for Thanksgiving the first time we tried to visit.

This time, I could have gotten tickets online, but we were a couple of hours away and couldn't gauge our arrival time due to some detours in the area. It was 3 PM by the time we got there.
The Cottages and Kitchen tour at 3:20 still had tickets so we decided to buy that one.
Click here to visit the Kitchen and Wine Cellar.

Hearst Castle®, also known as “La Cuesta Encantada” ® or “The Enchanted Hill” ® is located near San Simeon, CA, in the Santa Lucia Mountains of San Luis Obispo County.

This magnificent estate of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways commands a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean and the hills and valleys of the Santa Lucias. Envisioned by William Randolph Hearst, Hearst Castle is one of the world’s great attractions and showpieces for ancient art that rivals museum collections around the world.

Conceived in 1919 by newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) and designed by architect Julia Morgan (1872-1957) Hearst Castle began as a hilltop retreat, and over the years the estate became a museum. Donated in 1957 it showcases part of Mr. Hearst’s extraordinary collections.

The house is so far up the hill that John zoomed these photos from the Visitors' Centre. His zoom goes further than my 250 zoom does.

The Visitor Centre has boundless souvenirs with the castle on them. There are several food stands. You can buy beef from the Hearst Ranch and even beer or wine. 

There are also some exhibits showing timelines of the Hearst Empire. He actually inherited his initial fortune from his father.

When your scheduled tour time arrives, you board the bus at the Visitor Center to begin the  five-mile journey to Hearst Castle. Narrated by Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek, the scenic bus ride provides vistas of the natural beauty that surrounds this historic hilltop estate.

From their site:
Discover two very different parts of Hearst Castle on the Cottages & Kitchen Tour. View Hearst’s wine cellar and then stroll through the historic gardens to the first guest cottage, Casa del Monte. Then compare its rooms to those in Casa del Mar), before visiting the Castle’s enormous kitchen.

The Cottages and Kitchen Tour is 60 minutes long and consists of approximately 204 stairs, both up and down, and a 3/4-mile route to walk.

1 in the middle wine cellar
2 Casa del Monte our first stop
3 Casa del Mar
4 Kitchen
5 Gardens
6 Neptune pool closed for renovations
7 Roman pool

We were met by our guide and gaped in awe at the house.

William Randolph Hearst is best known for publishing the largest chain of American newspapers in the late 19th century, and particularly for sensational "yellow journalism." He'd be right at home nowadays.

William Randolph Hearst dominated journalism for nearly a half century. Born in San Francisco, California, on April 29, 1863, to George Hearst and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, young William was taught in private schools and on tours of Europe. He attended Harvard College, where he served as an editor for the Harvard Lampoon before being expelled for misconduct.

While at Harvard, William Randolph Hearst was inspired by the New York World newspaper and its crusading publisher, Joseph Pulitzer. Hearst's father, a California Gold Rush multimillionaire, had acquired the failing San Francisco Examiner newspaper to promote his political career. In 1887, William was granted the opportunity to run the publication. William invested heavily in the paper, upgrading the equipment and hiring the most talented writers of the time, including Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce and Jack London.

 More of the grounds as we walk to the first guest cottage Casa del Monte.

This was the first building ever completed at La Cuesta Encantada, which served as the Hearst family’s earliest residence in the summer of 1922. Referred to as “House B,” its formal name was Casa del Monte—Spanish for “House of the Mountain”—which referred to the sweeping views of the Santa Lucia Mountains.

As a guest here, it was very informal. You had the run of the "ranch", could ride, swim or lounge around. You could borrow a car from his vast collection.

Mr. Hearst did expect his guests to dress and socialize for dinner in the main house, informally for the times, jacket and tie for gentlemen and cocktail dresses for ladies. Unlike the east coast where you would be required to wear tails and a top hat or an evening gown.

Once Hearst and his longtime companion, actress Marion Davies, moved into Casa Grande, the “cottages” became guest quarters for an illustrious list of visitors—Hollywood icons including Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, world leaders such as Winston Churchill, and literary master George Bernard Shaw.

Casa Del Monte2,550 sq ft4 bedrooms3 fireplaces4 bathrooms1 sitting room

Gorgeous bathrooms!

The view from the sitting room.

More bedrooms.

Referred to as “House A,” its formal name is Casa del Mar—Spanish for “House of the Sea.” Hearst’s family stayed there while Casa Grande was being built. Stroll through the sumptuous house overlooking the California Central Coast to see where Mr. Hearst lived for the last two years of his residence at this hilltop estate.

Some of the art pieces on the grounds outside this house.

Casa Del Mar5,350 sq ft8 bedrooms5 fireplaces6 bathrooms1 sitting room

In 1903, Mr. Hearst married Millicent Willson in New York City. The 16 year-old beauty caught the eye of the 34 year-old Hearst, a well known stage-door Johnny at the time. The couple’s first dates were chaperoned by her sister Anita, and after a lengthy courtship the couple married on April 28, 1903.

The couple had five sons together during their marriage: George, William Randolph Jr., John and twins Randolph and David.

Their honeymoon drive across the European continent inspired Mr. Hearst to launch his first magazine, Motor. Motor became the foundation for another publishing endeavor that is still known as Hearst Magazines.

Millicent Hearst became estranged from her husband in 1926 when his increasingly open liaison with film actress Marion Davies became intolerable. Millicent thereafter maintained a separate residence in New York City while her husband maintained several residences on the West Coast with his paramour. During the years immediately following the separation, Millicent continued to visit Hearst Castle with family and her personal friends. On the occasion of Winston Churchill’s visit to San Simeon in 1929, Millicent Hearst was present to host the distinguished English aristocrat. In later years Millicent rarely visited the estate.

My favourite room, I love the soft yellow and the view!

Floor tile.

 On our way to the kitchen, which has its own post!!

A quick view of the kitchen.

Tennis courts.

The home of W. R. Hearst's fine collection of wines and spirits—even during the Prohibition Era consists of two rooms with double vault doors, the wine cellar is part of the Casa Grande basement.

Once the tour is over you are free to wander the grounds.

Last stop before boarding the bus back down is the Roman Pool.

The Roman Pool at Hearst Castle is a tiled indoor pool decorated with eight statues of Roman gods, goddesses and heroes. The pool appears to be styled after an ancient Roman bath such as the Baths of Caracalla in Rome c. 211-17 CE. The mosaic tiled patterns were inspired by mosaics found in the 5th Century Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy. They are also representative of traditional marine monster themes that can be found in ancient Roman baths. The statues are rough copies of ancient Greek and Roman statues.

Some views from the bus.

Can you imagine how many photos we would have taken if we had toured the "big house" with its 68 rooms???

Linking up with:

Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global


  1. I loved San Simeon when I visited. Luckily I was there long enough to take 3 tours. It's so beautiful

  2. Wow, the castle is so well maintained! It's still on my bucket list:) The ceilings are impressive, they remind me of the Louvre in Paris. Do you know anything about the descendants of the original owner? Thank you for taking us at ALL SEASONS with you on your walk through - what a treat! Have a great week to your next stop!

  3. Absolutely amazing. The decorations and furnishings seem endless. The history of Randolph Hearst is interesting and amusing.

  4. I grew up in northern California and have never been to Hearst Castle, can you believe it! But it is certainly in my future! Thanks for linking in to #wkendtravelinspiration!

  5. Quite sensational, isn't it? :) :) We passed close by with a small boy in tow many years ago and it didn't seem appropriate at the time. Many thanks for sharing, Jackie!

  6. These old "castles' , millionaires homes are amazing to tour, and hard to comprehend the amount of money the people had for their time. Unreplaceable now

  7. Those ceilings! Wow. The Millicent story--I can't help but feel so bad for her!

  8. I wish they had tours that allowed swimming in any of the pools. Thanks for the tour. I'd like to do that one day. The rooms don't feel so overwhelmingly ornate, which is how I felt on another tour.

  9. Absolutely loved my visit to this place and the views are incredible aren't they??

  10. Great photos. I visited there about 30 years ago and found it fascinating. I saw some of the same sights you photographed.

  11. Such a magnificent castle with a stunning interior. Even the garden features are impressive. And what a view!

  12. What a wonderful place! I love the architecture, particularly the Casa del Monte.. I have a weakness for tiles!

  13. Hi Jackie, what a lovely castle to explore, I can see why it was a place you wanted to visit. I love the mosaic tile work on the outside of the building, it adds a Mediterranean look to the place.

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC


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