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Posted by on Aug 29, 2012 | 3 comments

Hearst Castle: A Visit to La Cuesta Encantada

The idea of a road trip around the Central Coast had one main objective: pay a visit to Hearst Castle.

For years, my husband has been talking (or obsessing) about going there one day.  When he came to the United States, his English professor, a man partial to mystical rocks and all things Brazilian, instilled the idea into his mind.

The time to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary came.  Initially, I wanted to visit Sequoia National Park but a known couple warned us about the delays due to road work.  My husband used the opportunity to propose the Castle one more time.  I checked the distances, tour availability and lodging options.  Everything looked better than expected so drove towards San Simeon.

I am not sure who named William Randolph Hearst residence a castle (which is a fortified structure).  Hearst formally named the state “La Cuesta Encantada” (“The Enchanted Hill”) and used to refer to it as the “ranch”.  I guess people started to call the main structure in the complex (La Casa Grande) a castle because it has 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms and 19 sitting rooms.  The property also contained guest houses, gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater and an airfield. It used to host the world’s largest private zoo.

La Casa Grande also known as Hearst Castle

 

The complex was designed by architect Julia Morgan from 1919 to 1947.  At the time of Hearst death, he still had plans to add features to different parts of the houses.

Details of La Casa Grande

 

I made reservations for the Grand Rooms Museum Tour which is recommended for first time visitors.  There are other three tours available. Check the following website for more information: www.hearstcastle.org.

The tour includes the following:

Assembly Room

This was the main socializing area.

The Assembly Room

The Refectory

All meals were served in this huge dining hall named after the dining areas in monasteries.  Hearst liked to keep things informal. Therefore, each guest was given his / her own bottles of ketchup and mustard.  Hearst also was in charge of assigning seats.  He used to move boring guests to the far ends of the table.

The Refectory

 

Ketchup and mustard in The Refectory

 

Ceiling detail

 

The Billiard Room

This was the place used to enjoy one or two rounds of pool.

The Billiard Room

 

Detail from The Billiard Room

 

Theater

Hearst used to play a movie every night at 11:00 p.m.  Nowadays, visitors enjoy a short film with scenes of movie stars and politicians enjoying the installations.

The tour also includes access to the gardens, Neptune Pool and Roman Pool.  The views from the hill can also be considered an attraction.  A pastoral scene of rolling hills can be seen from the gardens.

Structure in the complex

 

Gardens

 

Views

 

Wow, it is incredible how rich people chose to use their money.  It is refreshing to know The Hearst Corporation (mass media group) donated the property to the state of California in 1957.  Since that, the complex has been managed as a state park and the collection of arts and antiques are open to the public.  The Corporation is also compromised with the preservation of the land within the property.

La Casa Grande

 

Have you visited Hearst Castle? Let me know in the comments section below.

3 Comments

  1. Beautiful pictures, Ruth! We love visiting Hearst Castle! It really does transport visitors to that wonderful era. I’ve done the first-time visitor tour twice and would like to do the garden tours next time. Their pools are two of the most amazing ones I’ve seen. Did you go to the elephant seal colony north of the castle?
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