Can it really be almost two years ago that I began chronicling a trip my husband and I made driving along the California coast from San Diego to San Francisco along the Pacific Coastal Highway? If you click on this label link it will take you back to the ten posts that began that memorable journey. Unfortunately, as I was in the middle of blogging about this trip, my Mother passed away, and my life became complicated as we had to empty and sell her house. We were also preparing for our daughter's wedding, then a move west from New York City to Colorado, and the birth of my grand daughter, so many life events prevented me from continuing to journal about this trip.
So, now I've decided to go back every Thursday for The Tabelescapers blog's new event called "Oh, the Places I've Been!" and continue where I left off. We saw such wonderful sights on our drive, and I hope you will also enjoy seeing them with me on my blog each Thursday, even if they are from the past.
Can you see the Hearst Castle high up on the hill? Hearst Castle is a National and California Historical Landmark mansion located on the Central Coast of California. It was designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951. In 1957, the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California. Since that time it has been maintained as a state historic park where the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, is open for public tours. Despite its location far from any urban center, the site attracts about one million visitors per year!
Hearst Castle, one of California’s top vacation attractions, is located on Highway 1 along the majestic Central Coast of California. Nestled in the hills at San Simeon, the Castle sits halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and is approximately a five hour drive from either of these metropolitan areas. Admission tickets are purchased at the visitors center for the type of tour you would like to go on--there are several options. A bus then takes you up the long and winding road to the castle.
In 1865, George Hearst purchased 40,000-acres of ranchland that included the Mexican Ranchos of Piedras Blancas, San Simeon and Santa Rosa. In 1919, his only son, William Randolph Hearst, inherited the land from his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst. By then the ranch had grown to encompass 250,000 acres.
The main house is enormous, and is a combination of historic architectural styles that its owner admired in his travels around Europe.
Hearst Castle featured 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield and at one time, the world's largest private zoo.
William Randolph was an avid collector of art and antiques from all around the world. He had warehouses full of items ready to be incorporated into the house design. One could literally take many trips to what he formally called "La Cuesta Encantada" ("The Enchanted Hill"), and not see all its details.
The rooms were large and cavernous and filled with "objets d'art" from around the globe.
Just look at the size of the dining room, and all the architectural details of it's walls...
Did you notice Hearts large silver collection on display on the table and sideboard?
According to the Wikipedia information about Hearst Castle, the floor plan of the main building is chaotic due to his habit of buying centuries-old ceilings, which dictated the proportions and decor of various rooms. The ceiling above was in the game room
The full size movie screen in his cinema room usually screened films from Hearst's own movie studio, Cosmopolitan Productions. Hearst was known to entertain the Hollywood and political elite of the 1920's and 30's. Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Bob Hope, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Dolores Del Rio, and Winston Churchill were among Hearst's A-list guests.
The grounds are so wonderfully decorated and maintained that one could, again, spend many days walking around to see everything.
It was hard to narrow down the garden and ground views to just a few photos, but I'll show you some of my favorites:
It is said that Hearst wanted a garden that displayed a profusion of blooms throughout the year. So, hundreds of thousands of annuals, bulbs and perennials were planted to provide the displays he enjoyed.
I loved all the beautiful roses that were blooming when we visited!
The "pièce de résistance" of the Hearst property, and probably the most photographed portion, is the Neptune Pool which is 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
Hearst had the Neptune Pool rebuilt numerous times, and the final version of the pool, as it stands at the Castle today, is 104 feet long, 58 feet wide and 95 feet wide at the alcove. It is 3.5 feet deep at the west end, 10 feet at drains, and holds 345,000 gallons of water.
Almost as impressive to me was the massive indoor Roman Pool!
The tiled indoor pool is decorated with eight statues of Roman gods, goddesses and heroes. The pool appears to be styled after an ancient Roman bath such as the Baths of Caracalla in Rome.
The Roman Pool is decorated from ceiling to floor with 1″ square mosaic tiles. These glass tiles, called "smalti," are either colored (mainly blue or orange) or are clear with fused gold inside. The intense colors and shimmering gold of the tiles combine to create a breathtaking effect!
A close up of a portion of the tile floor.
Out tour ended and we began the bus ride back to the visitor center.
We passed zebras, the last remnants of what was once the private zoo of exotic animals that Hearst maintained on the extensive grounds.
One last look at the castle on the hill before we drove away.
Next Thursday I'll show the Elephant seals we saw on the beach at San Simeon State Park on the Pacific coast!
I'm also adding this post to the following blog events:
Our World Tuesday
Many thanks to all the blog hosts!