2009, April 12 - HEARST CASTLE, SAN SIMEON, CALIFORNIA
About 20 miles north from Cayucos, on Highway 101, is San Simeon, the home of the Hearst Castle.
Perched high atop the "Enchanted Hill," it offers pnaromic views of its surroundings and the Pacific Ocean.
Built by William Randolph Hearst, on a 40,000-acre ranch, the Castle has 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, tennis court, a movie theater, an airfield and at one time had its own private zoo.
Construction started in 1919, and continued until 1947, when Hearst stopped living there due to ill health. Ten years later, the Hearst Corporation donated it to the state of California.
Now it is a state park complete with a large Visitor Center, which houses information kiosk, cafe, ticket booth, exhibits, and National Geographic Theater with a five-story screen. All tours start from here.
Casa del Sol
is an 18-room guest house, where many rich and famous individuals enjoyed the
hospitality of its owners. They included the Hollywood personalities like Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Bob Hope, the renowned aviator Charles Lindberg, and political leaders like Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
Lined with blue Venetian glass and gold tiles, Neptune Pool
is an impressive feature, which is close to the entrance to the Castle. The pool is surrounded by a beautiful colonnade and an ancient Roman temple front, which was brought all the way from Europe.
The main house on the property is Casa Grande
Casa Grande features the Assembly Room,
Refectory (dining room).
Morning Room, Theater, and an indoor swimming-dining pool
The Castle is embellished with open patios, Persian murals, Venetian ceilings
many Greco-Roman statues
some Flemish tapestries, and many other odds and ends.
On the whole, Hearst Castle is grandiose mish-mash of various architectural styles, which was built to gratify the fantastic whims of a wealthy heir.