|<< oct '02|
Our journey to Hearst Castle began long ago. We always wanted to see it every time we went through California, but it's a place you have to be going to - not one you can stop by. It's located on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, Hwy 1) between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Going North on PCH from L.A. is not that bad. South on PCH from San Francisco can take several hours to drive only 60 miles. We drove from Malibu to Hearst Castle near San Simeon.
Hearst Castle was built by William Hearst with money originating from his father's fortune from silver mines. William had great financial support from his father to build and grow a media empire (newspapers, magazines, radio, and television) in the early to mid 1900's. William grew up on the land camping with his family and fell in love with the mid California coastal area. The Hearst family also owns land all over the USA then and now. The Hearst family donated the land and castle to the State of California after Williams death thinking of the castle as too remote.
Above is a view driving up the road to the castle in a bus. All tourists park near the coastline well below the castle at a visitor center, museum, and theatre.
This is one of the first views on the property and is just a guest house!
This is a fountain in front of the guest house that was not yet turned back on due to a power outage earlier in the day.
The Neptune pool was one of the most spectacular sites on the tour. The employees get to swim here occasionally. William Hearst remodeled this pool several times throughout his residency here and this is how it has remained since his departure.
William Hearst had massive art from all over the world sent to this home. There are priceless statues, tapestry's, art, tiles, materials, etc everywhere. Apparently there is also a large storage room where purchased art never found a place on the property.
The kids were digging the tour, hung on every word of the guides, and got lots of attention as the only children on our tour.
The pool was obviously designed around Greek architecture.
Kesley just had to dance!
William Hearst liberally used the statues and art that he purchased to fit his designs. The top of the roofline in the background is three different ancient statues that were cut to fit here.
Other statues he had cast and duplicated in quantity to fill the property as he desired.
Looks like Sunny don't ya think?
Sunny does like 'big butts' too...
Below is a guest room.
And a view from the guest room. You can see the road from the visitor center at the bottom of the picture. We were bussed about 1600 feet up a paved switchback road. You can almost see the pier that William Hearst had built so he could ship in supplies to build and decorate his castle. That is the Pacific Ocean without barriers, large waves come crashing up on the beach below.
Below is the ceiling of one of the guest rooms. That is real gold.
These are very ancient Egyptian statues. Can't remember how old specifically but we are told that much of Hearst's art is from hundreds to thousands of years old. The museum had pieces from the 2nd century BC!!
This is the entry to the main house.
The first room we came into was a smoking / living room. Lots of seating and enormous antique tapestries.
All the kids got special attention from the tour guides.
And I was shown some details...
From the living area we were herded into the banquet room with massive amounts of silver, beautiful and intricate walls, chandeliers, furnishings, and more tapestries. The flags are recent and changed by the staff.
After the banquet room we were escorted to the billiard room.
Then led to a dark theatre (bad pix), behind the property to the Tennis courts, and finally below these courts to the end of the tour at the basement pool.
There are actually four different tours of the castle. We took the first one which is recommended for first timers. It only covered the entry, a guest house, both pools, and a single floor in the main house. Other tours will take you to the master suite, up to the top of the towers, around the grounds, in other guest houses, and some other specialty stuff.
After our tour we toured the museum below and viewed an IMAX like film about the building of the castle. The kids participated in a treasure hunt in the museum and the film taught us about William's history and the phenomenal commitment to building this home. William traveled with his mother around the world when he was around 10 years old and drew inspiration from that tour for the many types of architecture and art he put into the home. He would have issues of all his and other newspapers flown to him daily in his personal jet to his personal runway on the property. He also had a zoo on the property with a zookeeper complete with bear cages (no longer there). We saw some cattle, rare sheep, and zebra while there. Many movie stars, celebrities, and elite would visit his house and we were shown actual clips from these visits. He lived here for many years during the forties and fifties until having a stroke and being unable to move around the homes many stairs. The Hearst family still owns much of the land around the home and still visit the castle on occasion.
This was a very educational experience for the children and simply enchanted Greg and Jenn. We hope to go back someday and take some of the additional tours.