This view of Hearst Castle was taken from behind the visitor center just off CA Hwy 1. It's five miles from here to the top of the 1,600-foot tall peak in the Santa Lucia Range that Hearst would come to call "La Cuesta Encantada" (the enchanted hill).
A small reminder of Hearst's once-extensive private zoo, these four zebras graze behind the visitor's center or near CA Hwy 1.
Hearst Castle Hilltop View
This picture of Hearst Castle was taken from the bus as it zipped up the hill. For the best views, pick a seat on the left side of the bus as you're getting in (if you are facing the back of the bus). On the way up, you'll hear a recorded introduction to Hearst Castle that includes the size of the original ranch and other interesting facts.
The third pool to be built on this site, the Neptune Pool is 104 feet long, 58 feet wide and 95 feet wide. Its depth ranges from 3.5 feet to 10 feet, and it holds 345,000 gallons of water. You can see it on any of their tours.
"Grande" is the best word to describe the main house at Hearst Castle. It's 60,645 square feet with 38 bedrooms and 41 bathrooms.
Tour One will take you through the main living room, dining room, billiards room, and movie theatre. Tour Two goes upstairs to Mr. Hearst's private suite, the libraries, and the kitchen and Tour Three covers the North Wing and guest rooms. If you take the night tour, you'll see the five downstairs rooms, the kitchen, upstairs bedrooms, library and Hearst's private quarters.
Casa Grande Tower
This close-up photograph shows some of the details of the towers on Casa Grande, the main house at Hearst Castle. The design was inspired by a Spanish cathedral.
This grand room is where Hearst's guests assembled before going to dinner, thus its name. Hearst not only owned enough tapestries to drape around the top of the walls, but he also had more in store. So he could change them when he wanted to, the ceiling can be raised or lowered to accommodate their size. The tour group you see in the picture is walking into the dining room.
The "secret" door that Hearst used to enter this room is part of the wood paneling, just past where the people are walking past the dining-room door.
When guests first arrived, they were seated next to Mr. Hearst in the middle of the table. The longer one stayed, the further down the table they went, and you knew it was time to go home when you'd reached the end of the table.
Despite all its grandeur, Hearst thought of the Castle as "the ranch," where things were informal, thus the ketchup and mustard on the table. Tour guides sometimes relate that when Winston Churchill visited, Hearst had to send to San Francisco for the good linens and china to serve him on.
Filled with books and lined with an impressive collection of Greek vases, it's not the place one might think of doing somersaults, but according to tour guides, Harpo Marx talks in his biography about doing just that with Marion Davies.
In good Victorian style, Hearst hung portraits of his mother and father beside his bed. You'll have to take Tour Two or the night tour to see this room, which is on the upper floor.
When you're running one of the largest publishing companies in the world, you need a lot of room to work, even at "the ranch." This room is seen on Tour Two and the night tour.
Indoor Roman Pool
Its design based on a Roman bath, this indoor swimming pool is decorated with statues of Roman gods, goddesses, and heroes, and its tiles were inspired by patterns in the 5th Century Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy. The entire room, from the bottom of the pool to the ceiling is decorated in the one-inch square, glass mosaic tiles in cobalt blue and real gold. It's the last sight at the end of the tour, and most dramatic at night or in the late afternoon when the sunlight comes in the side windows.
Hearst once owned a largest private zoo, with enclosures larger than those of public zoos of the day.
Marion Davies' Bedroom
Hearst's hostess and companion at the ranch were a film star, Marion Davies. This room is her bedroom, on the upper level and opposite his. You can see it on Tour Two and the night tour.
Located at the top of the tower, this little suite feels like being inside a jewel box. While it's beautiful, poor planning made it less than practical, with no closets and the bathroom halfway down the stairs. You visit this room on Tour Two.
Casa del Sol
Casa del Sol is the largest guest house at Hearst Castle. Nevertheless, it's likely larger than your house, with 18 rooms facing the Pacific. Tour One takes you through four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and the sitting room.
Hearst Castle at Night
This photo and the ones that follow were taken during a night tour at Hearst Castle. They're held on selected dates in spring and fall only and is one of the best ways to see Hearst Castle.
Outdoor Neptune Pool at Night
On this particular night, fog lent an extra air of mystery to the always-beautiful Neptune pool.
Guests at Casa del Mar
It's these costumed docents that make the night tour so special. Dressed in period costumes, they're found chatting, eating, drinking and working all around the house, giving it a lived-in feel that you don't get during the day. They're in the guest house called Casa del Mar, which you can see on Tour Two and the night tour.
Playing Cards in the Assembly Room
Hearst asked little of his guests, but they were expected to gather in the living room of the main house every evening for cocktails, dinner and a movie. A group of people playing cards like this was a common sight in the living room, so large it bears the grander name Assembly Room.
Taking a Break in the Kitchen
Dressed up as the cook, this character appeared earlier delivering food to the living room, but by the time we reached the kitchen, she was taking a break to play cards and have a smoke (not a real one, of course). You can see the kitchen on the night tour and Tour Two.
The smaller bedroom this woman was sitting in is upstairs in "The Cloisters," four guest rooms flanked by open walkways, each with two beds. They would have been used by two friends traveling together or perhaps a mother and daughter.
Roman Pool at Night
If there's anything more beautiful than this swimming pool during the day, it's this swimming pool at night. Bathed in soft light, with the gold tiles glittering, it's one of the most romantic spots at the castle.