The most spectacular estate in America.
Planned as a “small construction project,” “Hearst Castle” is now a California landmark that attracts a million visitors year after year. Thanks to an opulent architecture, prominent house guests and many rumors and stories.
The creation of this magnificent palace began in 1865, when American gold mine owner George Hearst acquired some 16,200 acres of land in the San Simeon Bay area of California. Buying more land in the immediate area, he eventually owned 101,150 acres, which he bequeathed to his son, media mogul William Randolph. The latter commissioned architect Julia Morgan to build “a little something” in 1919. Out came La Cuesta Encantada, the “Enchanted Hills” – an estate completed in 1947 with a journey of luxurious buildings and gardens spanning 127 acres and featuring pools, fountains and a private airstrip.
38 bedrooms, over 40 bathrooms
Especially the main house “Hearst Castle”, built in Mediterranean Revival style, is known for its opulence with its two towers. Hearst sought to capture the gentility of European architecture with Morgan, so many elements of the property are inspired by foreign buildings and artwork.
The facade with bell towers and ornate decorations resembles a Spanish cathedral, the main entrance is flanked by bas-reliefs of knights, and in a niche above the massive door is a sculpture of Mary holding the baby Jesus.
The splendor of the exterior continues inside the house. A total of 115 rooms are available, including 38 bedrooms, over 40 bathrooms, a theater and a luxurious beauty salon. There is plenty of space – after all, the premises cover 6,360 square meters.
Two divine pools
A feast for the eyes is the Doge’s Suite, inspired by the Doge’s Palace in Venice and available only to the most important guests. The walls of the suite are decorated with the finest velvet and the balcony, made of marble, has an artistic loggia.
The Gothic study is the centerpiece of Hearst’s private suite, the Casa Grande. This is the room where W. R. Hearst reviewed his newspapers each evening before going to press.
Not to be forgotten are also the three palatial guest houses. The largest, Casa del Mar, is 490 square meters and has eight bedrooms. The smallest, Casa del Monte, is 235 square meters and includes four bedrooms.
However, among the most famous elements of the palace are the two pools. The detailed Neptune pool is an absolute eye-catcher, because the water here refracts the light on the surface in such a way that a luminous turquoise hue is created. In addition, it is surrounded by sculptures and columns that end on one side in the facade of a replica Roman temple. A waterfall adds the exquisite final touch.
The second pool, located inside the castle, is modeled after ancient Roman baths and features gold and blue mosaic tiles.
Zoo and film set
At one time, Hearst Castle was also said to have housed the largest private zoo in the world. The most unusual animals housed there were camels, zebras, kangaroos and giraffes.
The animals could probably be admired by some celebrities, because Hearst Castle was the meeting place of many extensive parties. In addition, John and Jackie Kennedy spent their honeymoon there. And the classic film “The Godfather” was also shot on location.
In addition, the castle has an extensive collection of antiques and works of art, which are displayed throughout the house. Since 1958, the castle has also been open for public visits.
The magnificent building tells numerous stories, survived many heady celebrity parties and probably keeps a secret or two. Therefore, it is perfectly understandable why it has become one of the most popular attractions in the U.S. and is visited by approximately one million people annually. Because everyone wants to immerse themselves in the narrative and marvel at the palace with their own eyes.
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