Sitting lofty above the unspoiled coastline of San Simeon on "La Cuesta Encantada"—the enchanted hill—this palatial retreat, completed in 1947 by Hearst and his architect Julia Morgan, is a testament to sheer determination. After inheriting 250,000 thousand acres of ranch land in 1919 after his mother's death, Hearst enlisted Morgan to "build a little something" on the hill where he grew up camping.
This little something, built over 28 years, grew in extravagance to encompass "Casa Grande," the main house comprised of over 68,000 square feet of grand rooms and a movie theater, as well as several impressive guest houses, two opulent swimming pools, extensive blooming gardens, and tennis courts. In its heyday, the property even had a private zoo.
Now a California State Park and open to the public almost every day of the year, Hearst Castle is a landmark tourist attraction. Following are a few glimpses of the holiday sparkle and largess of a bygone era.
|This poinsettia tree added crimson cheer to the Morning Room. What a place to have tea every morning!|
|During my visit in mid-December, San Luis Obispo County warmed up to ideal temperatures in the high 70s. I have to admit that lounging around the Neptune Pool was my favorite part of the tour.|
|The reflective Roman pool is the last site of exploration before boarding a bus for the five-mile ride down the hill. This splashy indoor pool, tiled from top to bottom with glass mosaic tiles, is simply amazing.|
No matter what time of year you visit Hearst Castle, it is always a sight to behold.
Wishing you holiday grandeur and a very happy new year!