Touring Hearst Castle: Priceless! 12/5 - 12/7 2012

The Case Grande is the 60,645 square-foot centerpiece of Hearst Castle.  William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) formally named the estate "La Cuesta Encantada" (The Enchanted Hill), but usually called it "the ranch."  It was designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947.

Located about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on Hwy 1, this architectural wonder was constructed atop a hill at an altitude of 1,600 feet in the Santa Lucia Range (which abuts the Pacific Ocean), providing really dramatic ocean vistas.  Hearst Castle was built on Rancho Piedra Blanca land that his father purchased in 1865. The ranch grew to 250,000 acres and 14 miles of coastline which Hearst inherited from his mother.

Casa Grande featured 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, and 19 sitting rooms set amid 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, airfield, and the world's largest private zoo.  Zebras and other exotic animals still roam the grounds.

In 1957, the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the State of California.  Jimmy and I took two tours:  The Grand Rooms tour in the morning and Upstairs Suites in the afternoon.  We took over 300 pictures on two cameras.  There are really no adequate adjectives to describe the breathtaking art and artifacts Hearst collected and are displayed in the Castle. 

Photo of the Castle from the Visitor Center FIVE MILES AWAY!
Natural gas buses transport visitors from the VC to the Castle.

From the gardens, overlooking the Ocean.

Close-up of one of the two bell towers.

Looking thru the orange orchard toward the Ocean.

Imitating art or oh my aching back?

Stunning artwork and statuary everywhere.

The immense dining room.

A view of Hearst's office.

Resting my weary feet, and looking at the cottage below.

 One of three beautiful cottages used by guests.  Casa del Monte.

The fairy princess is about to kiss a frog.  I wouldn't mind sitting on this patio, overlooking the winding road that leads back to Hwy 1, and the ocean.

Close-up of the princess.

One highlight of the estate is the outdoor Neptune Pool, located near the edge of the hilltop, which offers an expansive vista of the mountains, ocean and the main house. The Neptune Pool patio features an ancient Roman temple front, transported wholesale from Europe and reconstructed at the site.  Imagine!

 Jimmy in the temple!

I would love to swim in this pool... every day.

The Castle grew it's own food, cattle, poultry, etc.  

Let's say you're married and visiting the castle.  You probably would've been given a suite that includes two bedrooms, each with a closet and a bathroom, with a sitting room between the two. Bedroom #1 above.

I absolutely loved the religious artwork
(So did Hearst - the castle is full of iconic paintings such as this.)

Sitting room between the two bedrooms.  I don't know how many fireplaces were in the castle.  Hearst collected them, like he did with many other "things."

Bedroom #2 on the other side.  Notice the matching bathroom doors in each bedroom.

We spent all day at Hearst Castle. I packed a lunch.  Americans don't have to go to Europe to see priceless antiquities.  Just go to Hearst Castle and see for yourself.  What an amazing experience.


  1. Now this post was a real education for me. I had no idea it existed. Wow. What a place. Can you imagine having to clean it?

  2. Anonymous8:02 AM

    This place is on the scale of Biltmore in the Smokies... WOW! love from Nannie

  3. Anonymous4:10 PM

    Okay – I just toured your blog of Hearst Castle – you did it justice, girl! I can”t believe you’d never been before – your pics were like a mini-visit in itself. I especially love the pic thru the oranges to see the Pacific below – very arty farty! Lyn

  4. The pool makes me think of the Great Gatsby. I think. Or else a perfume commercial.

    The estate must cost California a mint to maintain - is it a white elephant, or do they recoup the expense through admission?

  5. I understand Hearst Castle SHP supports ALL the other state parks in California! It attracts more than a million visitors a year, each one of 'em shelling out the bucks to tour parts of the castle.

    That big ol' Gatsby pool holds 345,000 gallons of water, and I would love to float in each gallon every day!

    1. Cool! I guess it's a regular useful elephant after all.


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