Hearst Castle

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 14, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, May 26, 2011

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I went to the Hearst Castle today. Hearst Castle is a huge home built by William Randolph Hearst on 240,000 acres of land near San Simeon, CA that he inherited following the death of his mother. Construction started in 1919, the year he inherited the land as well as the year he quit living with his wife and moved in with his girlfriend, and continued through 1947 when Hearst was forced to leave the estate due to health problems.

The architect chosen by Hearst was Julia Morgan, the first female graduate of Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. She worked with Hearst during the entire construction period. Together they designed a home to showcase Hearst's collection of European antiques, which included entire buildings that he would have dismantled, shipped to California and rebuilt.  Many parts of the estate were re-built many times; apparently, Hearst changed his mind a lot.

They offer a number of tours. I took Tour 1, which is also known as the Experience Tour, which gives a good overview of the estate. The tour goes to one of the guest houses, Casa Del Sol, through some of the gardens and past the outdoor Roman Pool, through several rooms on the ground floor of the main house, Casa Grande, and through the pool house containing the Neptune Pool.

The house is incredible but a bit chaotic.  It's a pastiche of historical architectural styles that Hearst liked  Many of the parts are from European buildings and are quite spectacular and are not what you're used to seeing in America but designing the building must have been a lot like putting a jigsaw puzzle together with pieces from dozens of puzzles.

I thought about going on a second tour but I had a two or three hour drive to Ventura and I wanted to get there early before all the rooms are booked for the upcoming holiday weekend.
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