Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hearst Castle

One place we read about in our guide books and heard about over and over while in California was Hearst Castle. Since we were driving right by it on our way to Big Sur we figured we should check it out. The castle was donated to the state by the Hearst family in 1957 and it is now a major tourist attraction. There are numerous tours offered that explore different parts of the castle and property. We chose the main rooms tour which covered the dining and entertainment areas as well as the surrounding grounds.

A little background info... William Hearst toured Europe as a young boy and the architecture of the castles he saw during this trip left a lasting impression on him. After his parents died he inherited a huge amount of money and he decided to have a castle built in the foothills on the ocean. He reportedly walked into female architect Julia Morgan's office and said "I'd like to build a little something upon the hill at San Simeon."

The castle is unlike any in Europe - Hearst took inspiration from a variety of architectural styles and with the help of Julia Morgan created his own masterpiece. It took over 30 years to build the castle and by the 1920's and 30's the castle was being used to entertain the countries most elite including Charles Lindberg, FDR, Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable. Part of the 127 acres of land surrounding the castle contained the largest private zoo and zebras are still reportedly living in the area. The pools were our favorite and it almost seemed a crime we could not jump in.

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