Where: off Highway 1 near San Simeon, California, USA
When:A modern day palace built in 1930
Happenings: The ultimate Jazz era Hollywood hangout, with an amalgamation of art & curios from historic Europe
Go There For: A sense of California decadence
Where It’s At
William Randolph Hearst, a 20th century media magnate who controlled many magazines and Newspapers all over the country in depression era America, built Hearst Castle as a personal retreat and place to network with the movers and shakers of the time.
Located near the south central coastal town of San Simeon, the Castle is perched high on a hill with a beautiful view of the Pacific. A railway was built from Los Angeles to bring the guests from Hollywood, who made up the bulk of the visitors.
Opulence and Celebrity
In the 1930’s it became the place to be for Hollywood celebrities among them Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant and Greta Garbo. Importing almost everything to complete this mammoth project, Hearst brought in British monastery pews, Austrian tapestries, Italian marble and other artifacts from Europe.
Though he was criticized for looting many historical periods in Europe, Hearst built a magnificent home that spared no expense. Moving huge trees to make the pool fit in the correct place was one of the many things accomplished. To please guests Hearst had oranges hung from fruit trees to give the impression of the Garden of Eden and gave legendary parties to which only his favorite people were invited.
When Hearst died the whole of Hearst Castle was handed over to the State of California as it was deemed too expensive to keep up. It is now administered as a State Historical Landmark.
You can see the Castle as you drive along Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway.
Visiting Hearst Castle
Though it can be a stop on a day long drive between Northern and Southern California, this will be rushed and hectic. Hearst Castle is best visited as a stopover on Highway 1 or as a day trip from San Luis Obispo, which is 34 miles south of the Castle.
There are numerous tours that cover different aspects of the castle, though they are not cheap. They tend to be rushed as the huge volume of visitors is immense during the summer months, so if you can visit Hearst in the off season between September and March.
main image: The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle was rebuilt three times to suit its owner’s tastes. Its centerpiece is the façade of an ancient Roman temple Hearst imported to California. c/o By Stan Shebs, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=123645