Nestled atop a hill in San Simeon, California, Hearst Castle is a stunning showcase of art and architecture. The castle was built by publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947. Today, the castle is open to the public for tours, providing visitors with a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of one of America's most famous families.
History of Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle was the brainchild of William Randolph Hearst, who inherited 40,000 acres of land in the San Simeon area after his mother's death. As time progressed, Hearst purchased more land, eventually owning 250,000 acres.
Soon enough, Hearst commissioned architect Julia Morgan to design a massive estate. Construction on the castle continued until 1947, when Hearst's health began to fail, forcing him to leave the project unfinished. Yet despite its unfinished state, Hearst Castle had 165 rooms and 123 acres of carefully manicured outdoor spaces.
Hearst referred to the estate as "La Cuesta Encantada" or "The Enchanted Hill." It was a fitting name for a property that featured its own zoo, wine cellar, airstrip, and swimming pools.
After Hearst died in 1951, the castle was donated to the state of California. Today, Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark and State Park, welcoming visitors worldwide.
Hearst Castle's Art Collection
One of the highlights of a visit to Hearst Castle is the opportunity to see some of the incredible artwork on display. In addition to paintings by Old Masters like Rembrandt and Botticelli, Hearst Castle's art collection includes tapestries, sculptures, and an extensive array of furniture.
The art collection is spread across the estate's various buildings and outdoor spaces. Notable works include Annunciation by Bartolomé Pérez, Venus Italica by Antonio Canova, Neptune and Emphitrite by Simon Vouet, and The Continence of Scipio by Giulio Romano.
Visitors can also view four sculptures dating from the New Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1550-1070 BCE). Other sculptures on the property include Relief of Saint Paul dating around 1525, Virgin as Young Girl dating around 1630, and an ancient Roman Sarcophagus dating around 230 AD.
These are only a few examples of works of art that can be seen on a tour of Hearst Castle. With so much to see, visitors could easily spend hours exploring the property and appreciating the stunning scenery and art.
Touring Hearst Castle
There are a variety of tours available at Hearst Castle, each offering a different perspective on the property. The Grand Rooms Tour is a great option for first-time visitors. This tour takes guests through the main indoor spaces of the castle, including the Assembly Room, Refectory, Billiard Room, and Theater.
The Upstairs Suites Tour provides visitors with a look at the private bedrooms on the upper levels of Casa Grande, the property's main building. This tour includes a stop in the Gothic Suite, the main library, and more.
Other popular tour options include the Cottages & Kitchen Tour, the Evening Tour, the Julia Morgan Tour, and the Designing the Dream Tour. Seasonal tours include Holiday Twilight, the Art of San Simeon, and the Hearst and Hollywood. Visitors also have the option to book a private guided tour, which can accommodate six people for up to four hours. And for visitors with accessibility needs, several Accessibility Designed tours are available at Hearst Castle.
No matter which tour you choose, you're sure to have an unforgettable experience exploring the history and art of Hearst Castle. It's worth taking your time here, so be sure to reserve lodging accommodations so you can enjoy everything the castle has to offer. Browse the spacious Morro Bay lodging offered at the Blue Sail Inn, and start planning your Hearst Castle trip today!