Hearst Castle in the city of San Simeon, USA

Traveling the United States: the magical Hearst Castle, California.Hearst Castle.

A mega estate that is owned by a mega-state. No media mogul would be able to build and maintain such a property on his own dime. Note that this castle is built at a great distance from the cities. How were the building materials delivered? Maybe a temporary railroad was built which was later dismantled? Why was it necessary to build such a luxurious huge manor in such a desolate place?

This homestead was of practical importance to the development of the entire Western region of the United States; it was the headquarters where its employees lived with their families and servants. Why else would one man have such a huge library? Undoubtedly, the true history of this mega-mansion is strikingly different from the official story that visitors are told.

An estate of astonishing beauty, Hearst Castle is a jewel of California’s Central Coast. It was commissioned by media mogul William Randolph Hearst, who, died in 1951. Three years later the estate became a California state park, and in 1958 it opened to the public. Despite its location away from bustling metropolitan areas, the mansion attracts thousands of visitors each year because of its beauty and extensive art collection.

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Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA, USA 1080p HD

The castle is also often called “La Cuesta Encantada,” which means “The Enchanted Hill,” “San Simeon,” or simply “The Ranch.” Hearst Castle was particularly popular during its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. Hollywood and the political elite often visited this amazing place, using the estate’s own airfield or the owner’s private railroad car. Among Hearst’s guests were Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Hearst’s own film studio, Cosmopolitan Productions, usually shot films in the estate theater.

Hearst Castle is located near the town of San Simeon, California, about 250 miles (400 km) from Los Angeles and San Francisco in northern San Luis Obispo County.

The exterior of the estate is largely an embodiment of the historic architectural styles that its owner admired during his travels in Europe. Hearst was an avid collector who wasn’t so much buying art and antiques to decorate his castle as he was building the house to get his extensive collection out of storage. This led to an amusing juxtaposition of the incompatible, for example, in the castle’s movie theater, all the walls are hung with shelves of rare books.

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Hearst Landing has everything you could want: 56 bedrooms, 61 restrooms, 19 living rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield and the world’s largest private zoo. Julia Morgan, an accomplished civil engineer, designed a water delivery system that transports water from artesian wells on the 1,100-meter-high slopes of Pine Mountain, 11 kilometers east of the castle. In Hearst’s time, a private power plant supplied electricity to the mansion. Most of the mansion’s chandeliers use bare bulbs, as electricity was just beginning to develop in the years when the castle was built. The castle is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. Tickets will cost you $25 (adult), $12 (children).

Hearst Castle: The contradictions and mysteries of a billionaire’s California estate

The dream estate of America’s first media mogul turned park-museum is a popular California attraction. How the millionaire’s idea of a comfortable and cozy home evolved into a huge 165-room villa that he couldn’t pay to live in is in today’s Travellizy team story about Hearst Castle, “Hearst Castle.”


The controversy surrounding it begins with the name itself: Hearst Castle is not a castle at all. The owner himself, William Hearst, called it “The Ranch at San Simeon,” after a nearby town on California’s central coast. After the bulk of the construction was completed, Hurstle gave the estate the official name “La Cuesta Encantada,” “The Enchanted Hill” in Spanish. Indeed, standing alone on green hills, the imposing building looks like something out of place, a fairy tale. It seems a miracle that green trees and palm trees stand around the house, in contrast to the surrounding slopes. But the explanation is quite trivial: during construction, the trees were carefully transplanted closer to the buildings. Some 70,000 additional saplings were subsequently brought in and planted.


Hearst Castle is a complex of buildings erected from 1919 to 1947. But first things first: a little information about the Hearst family will help you better understand the significance of this extraordinary historical monument.

The road to Enchanted Hill: the rise and fall of a newspaper empire

William Hearst never knew poverty or moderation: his father George Hearst, a multimillionaire, did his best to ensure that his son’s life journey was not marred by financial problems. Hearst Sr. made his fortune as the largest gold miner in the United States, gaining political weight by becoming a senator from California.

Hearst Jr., on the other hand, saw his career only in the publishing business. Beginning his career as a journalist in 1885 under Joseph Pulitzer himself, by 1925 he controlled more than 30 publications and a dozen radio stations across the country. Hearst established a steady stream of screaming headlines; circulation grew as did profits. Gossip, scandal, made-up crimes and even fake wars, made-up sordid details and gory details – these became the hallmarks of the newspapers Hearst owned.

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william hearst

His father, tired of the constant squabbles and problems caused by his son’s tumultuous activities, disinherited him. But since his mother was always on the side of the only child, after his father’s death, Hearst Jr. still had the money at her disposal. After her death, Hearst became even more rich. He dreamed of becoming president of the United States and correctly evaluated the media channels as a tool, even though he lost the election twice.

“Citizen Kane as Satire and Drama

Hearst interpreted freedom of speech and journalistic ethics purely in his own interests, and his eventful but ignominious life became the prototype for the film Citizen Kane directed by Orson Welles. After the release of the film in 1941, Hearst in every way revenge on its creators and prevented distribution. But life has put everything in its place: Citizen Kane is still studied in film schools as an academic example of high quality cinema, and Hearst’s newspaper empire is used as an example of “yellow press”.

A still from the film:


Dark Affairs

Despite his complete lack of charisma and bad reputation, Hearst was able to consolidate his position in society in spite of numerous scandals. He sympathized with Nazi Germany, seeing them as stalwart American allies against the USSR. He made his money by publishing Nazi-paid articles and notes in his publications up until the official entry of the United States into World War II. In 1934 he met Hitler, later trying to whitewash his interest by wanting to talk to the Führer about the fate of the Jewish community.

Another mystery, still unanswered, is the death of one of Hearst’s guests during a sea voyage. Supposedly, Hearst shot his guest Charlie Chaplin out of jealousy, but missed the film producer Thomas Ince. Despite the harsh public reaction, position and money did the trick and the story was hushed up.

Love and Family

The mistress of the house on the hill as well as Hearst’s companion until his death was not Hearst’s official wife, but his mistress. The popular Hollywood actress Marion Davis became a silent film star with the help of her wealthy patron. They met when he was 54, she was 20.

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Marion Davies

Did someone else’s millions make her happy? No, but riches for sure: the constant pressure, recriminations, and a failed career in sound films had sapped Marion, and she drank herself into oblivion and used drugs. Despite this, she made smarter financial decisions than Hearst. His media empire struggled through the thirties, had to sell the factories and mines she had inherited from her father, part of the collection. In 1947, Hearst left the estate for good. Marion stayed with Hearst until the last, but the official family wouldn’t even let her come to the funeral. The beginning of Hearst’s brief reign at Enchanted Hill was rosy. In the end, much of the estate was left unfinished; it was not the owner or architect who made the final decision to stop construction, but life itself.


Construction of Enchanted Hill and the Result

Having owned several luxury homes and apartments in various U.S. cities, he considered his “Rancho” in San Simeon a special place. He entrusted the design and construction of the grand project to Julia Morgan of San Francisco. She was a fashionable architect, the first woman to be certified as an architect in California, and for nearly 30 years she worked with Hearst to create his dream home.


The extravagant and eclectic complex surprises even seasoned travelers. It contains expensive antiquities without any concept whatsoever. What was conceived as a Mediterranean style ends up resembling an architectural Frankenstein: elements from a multitude of eras and cultures are jumbled up in rough movements. You’ll find Italian erotic statues, ancient Egyptian religious symbols, French tapestries, English armchairs, Byzantine mosaics, and American furniture. Hearst bought all of this through catalogs and representatives in such quantities that some of the boxes of purchases remained unpacked until his death.


The main house, perched on a hill, is in the style of a Spanish Catholic cathedral. But don’t let the appearance deceive you: it’s a residential house, not a church. Nevertheless, there are 18 bells on the two bell towers.


Some of the bricks, stones and decorations used in the construction were shipped across the ocean from European countries over the years.


What looks like Spanish Baroque on the outside resembles British castles on the inside. Not for nothing did Hollywood designers come here for inspiration during the filming of “Harry Potter.”

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In the other room, Gothic arches rub shoulders with a pool table, Byzantine ceramics, and a stuffed owl.

secret room

The same mixed feeling is evoked by the antique dining table in the ballroom, where the most famous people of the time dined: Winston Churchill, Bernard Shaw, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable.

harry potter

Hearst sought to impress guests with luxury and wealth: the best chefs in the world cooked exquisite food, but the table invariably had American ketchup and mustard.


During the tour, you can personally appreciate the level of comfort and coziness in the living rooms.


Luxurious Pools

The estate has two pools. The exterior pool, named after the ancient Roman god Neptune and adorned with Italian statues, took 15 years to build. Such a long construction is explained by the fact that it was rebuilt three times, each time increasing the area.


The second pool (“Roman”) is covered, in its decor, used more than a million mosaic tiles made in Venice. Some of the tiles are covered with real gold. Exactly this kind of swimming pool rich Hirst considered appropriate for himself and his famous guests.


And nowadays, stars visit Hearst Castle! Princess of pop music Lady Gaga rented the pool of Neptune for the shooting of the video for the song “G.U.Y.”, you can watch it here. Renting the location cost the singer 23 thousand dollars, but she was generous and donated another 250 thousand for the museum.

Can the average person take a dip in Hearst’s legendary pools? Theoretically yes, but it will cost you a tidy sum: $500 for the annual membership fee and another $950 for the opportunity to swim on a special day. Tickets are limited to 60, so if you want to splash around in one of California’s most expensive pools, you’ll have to hurry.

heartst pool

A monument to history these days.

“Enchanted Hill,” with its hundred and fifty rooms, never became home to Hearst’s five sons and his wife. Tight control, pettiness and tyranny were the levers Hearst used in both family and business. The unfinished North Terrace, as well as a number of other properties, remained unfinished.


Will California ever carry out the plan devised by Hearst a century ago? Probably not. Numerous descendants of Hearst own dozens of well-known publications including Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Men’s Health. They are still in litigation with the museum over the land around the estate.

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But it’s not these grim details that lure visitors. Tens of thousands of tourists come here to admire the beautiful buildings, well-kept flowerbeds, and to look at antique art.


After Hearst’s death, his family donated the estate to the state, as the cost of maintaining and preserving the artwork is very expensive. Now the museum remains viable only through subsidies, personal and corporate contributions and free volunteer labor. Utility bills for the 165-room Hearst complex cost $250,000 annually. Depending on the scope of the work, the operating costs for the Park Museum go up to $8 million a year. The four-year repair of the Neptune Fountain cost nearly $5.5 million, and before that, 22,000 liters of water went into the ground daily because of leaks. Nevertheless, every effort is being made to preserve the art stored in the castle and the buildings themselves.


Advice before your visit

If you are heading here, plan for a minimum of four hours. It is forbidden to enter the castle by private vehicle and you cannot go further than the visitor’s center on foot.

visitor center

Everyone who wants to see the museum must choose one of the tours, wait for their turn in the shuttle bus, and then, under the watchful eye of the guides, the tour begins.

Before the start of the educational lecture, the tour guide will spell out the conditions of the tour: no touching objects, no smoking, sit only on modern furniture, do not leave the group, drink only bottled water, no chewing gum. It is also forbidden to pluck oranges and mandarins growing here from the trees.


Despite the strict rules, Hearst Castle is very popular. Your visit here is sure to give you a lot of pleasant experiences. Some tours offer the opportunity to visit a home theater to watch an educational film about the construction of the estate.


At the same time you will find out if you thought you saw zebras grazing from the bus window or if they were really inhabitants of the African continent.


We hope you get to see the museum with your own eyes! It still holds a lot of mysteries and discoveries. And you can visit another interesting place in one day: the sea elephant observation point. We wrote about these picturesque places in the article about sea elephants.

And our experienced Travellizy team can help you make your trip as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

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