Hearst Castle: The Splendor of Glamour off the Coast of San Simeon


An architectural ode to the Golden Calf, Hearst Castle is perhaps California’s most incredible landmark all the way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Hearst Castle can most accurately be characterized by a phrase from Orson Welles’ movie Citizen Kane: “the most expensive monument built by man to honor himself since the pyramids.” Created by the fanciful imagination and many kilograms of gold bars of media magnate William Hearst, the ranch estate is located on the territory of 100 thousand hectares (!) and can boast not only pompous buildings, but also the most valuable exhibits of almost all known to historians epochs of mankind existence. Visiting the Hearst Castle is not cheap, but visitors take away with them truly unforgettable impressions.

A bit of history

The history of Hearst Castle dates back to 1865, when Senator George Hearst purchased a large tract of land on a picturesque stretch of the California coast and built a house in the English style. The senator’s heirs expanded the land to 100,000 acres, and his son, media mogul William Hearst, zealously embarked on a huge estate of several houses, swimming pools, numerous terraces and other facilities. The scale of the construction is evidenced at least by the fact that the main house of Hearst Castle is built in the style (and almost the size) of a Spanish cathedral. The castle hosted incredible social gatherings until in 1847 the owner was forced to leave the coast for health reasons, and his corporation transferred the estate to the authorities, retaining the right for family members to reside in the castle. Hearst Castle has been open to the public ever since.

What to see

Hurst Castle is a whole world in miniature, all the sights of which are almost impossible to describe. A visit to the castle is based on a 45-minute tour of one of the parts of the estate chosen by the tourist and free time to explore the rest of the grounds.

The main building of the estate is the magnate’s dwelling called Casa Grande. The most popular tour is of the Great Halls, where you can feel like a guest of Hearst. You’ll see the front hall, refectory, billiard room, theater, gardens, Neptune’s Pool (which features a pavilion with an original bas-relief depicting Neptune) and the Roman Pool. All the rooms are magnificent, solid works of art of incredible style with masses of historical value.

A tour of the Upper Chambers includes visits to the Gothic Suite and the Dodge Suite, the library, adjoining bedrooms, gardens and pools and gives a glimpse into the private, hidden life of the Hearst. In the Gothic Suite, the medieval ceilings taken from Spain are a must-see.

A tour of the cottages and kitchen will take you through Hearst Castle’s additional structures, which are every bit as amazing as the main house. You’ll see Hearst’s adored Casa del Mar mansion, wine cellar, Casa del Monte cottage, kitchen, gardens and pools.

Address, hours of operation and cost of admission

The address is 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, California.

Tours are conducted daily from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. During high season, it is recommended that visits be booked in advance through the Hearst Castle website.