Friday, May 15, 2015

Travel: California's Central Coast - Day 2 (Continued) - Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle - San Simeon, California
Day 1 Day 2

William Randolf Hearst, along with architect Julia Morgan, built La Cuesta Encantada, which is now known as Hearst Castle, between 1919 and 1947. The design is "Spanish Revival" with inspiration from throughout Europe, including ancient Rome.

The castle included 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms and 19 sitting rooms. There were 127 acres of gardens, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, a zoo (zebras still roam the property), and a movie theater. The castle is over 60,000 square feet, and the estate structures total over 90,000 square feet!

Hearst Castle sits on a tall hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. From the Pacific Coast Highway you can see the massive structure in the distance to the east, but you cannot get close to it without taking a tour. At the base of the hill is a large visitor's center. Inside are several restaurants, a gift shop, a small exhibit, and a movie theater that plays the docudrama Hearst Castle - Building The Dream.
Clothes Laid Out - San Simeon, California
There are three different tours offered daily: Grand Room, Upstairs Suites, and Cottages & Kitchen. In the spring and fall an evening tour is also available. My wife had visited Hearst Castle once before and took the Grand Room tour. This is the most popular (and most crowded) tour, so we elected to go on the Upstairs Suites tour instead. Tickets were $25 each. We didn't bring our young children along because we didn't think they'd appreciate the experience.

A bus takes visitors up the hill from the visitor's center to the castle (you must purchase a castle tour in order to ride the bus). Alex Trebek provides a prerecorded narration of the drive. At the top a tour guide gives a detailed narrative of the castle.

The Upstairs Suites tour was interesting. Our tour guide (who was highly informative) took us through bedrooms, sitting rooms, hallways, a library and a dining room. The incredible artwork and antique decor were the highlights.
Telephone - San Simeon, California
Hearst Castle was in the middle of restoration on our visit. Scaffolding climbed the sides of the main structure. The Neptune Pool was completely drained. That was a bit disappointing. There were a number of photographic opportunities lost due to the renovation.

After the tour we were allowed to roam the grounds (outside of the structures) for as long as we wished. That was really nice because we were able to take our time and simply enjoy the amazingly beautiful setting and gorgeous views. The walk back to the bus goes by the incredible Roman Pool.

We expected Hearst Castle to be a highlight of the trip and it definitely was. Despite the restoration and despite the seemingly expensive tour cost, it was well worth the visit. It's a truly amazing site and there aren't many places like this anywhere in the world.

The Morning Window - San Simeon, California
Guest Bedroom Design - San Simeon, California
Mary - San Simeon, California
The Library - San Simeon, California
Wreath Halo - San Simeon, California
Castle Tower & Palms - San Simeon, California
Fountain Steps - San Simeon, California
Tulip Garden - San Simeon, California
Purple Flower Landscape - San Simeon, California
Hearst View - San Simeon, California
Two Flowers - San Simeon, California
Red & Yellow - San Simeon, California
Castle Tower - San Simeon, California
Youth Statue - San Simeon, California
Roman Statue - San Simeon, California
Roman Pool #1 - San Simeon, California
Roman Pool #2 - San Simeon, California

No comments:

Post a Comment