HEARST CASTLE, formally named  'La Cuesta Encantada' ('The Enchanted Hill'),
was the palatial estate of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.  

Located near San Simeon, California, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean,
Hearst Castle was built on a 250,000 acre ranch that William Randolph Hearst's father,
George Hearst, originally purchased in 1865.

Construction began in 1919 and continued through 1947, when Hearst stopped living
at the estate due to ill health.  San Francisco architect Julia Morgan designed most of the buildings.
Hearst was an inveterate tinkerer, and would tear down structures and rebuild them at a whim,
so the estate was never completed in his lifetime.

The estate is a pastiche of historic architectural styles that Hearst admired in his travels
around Europe.  The main house is modeled after a 16th century Spanish cathedral, while the
outdoor pool features a mock temple front based on ancient Roman designs. 
Hearst furnished the estate with truckloads of art, antiques, and even whole ceilings that he
acquired en masse from the great houses of Europe.

Hearst Castle was like a small self-contained city, with 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms,
19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, one indoor and one outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts,
a movie theater, an airfield, and the world's largest private zoo.

Invitations to Hearst Castle were highly coveted during its heyday in the 1920's and 30's.
The Hollywood and political elite often visited, usually flying into the estate's airfield or taking
a private Hearst-owned train car from Los Angeles.  
Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Calvin Coolidge and
Winston Churchill were among Hearst's A-list guests.

The estate's theater usually screened films from Hearst's own movie studio, Cosmopolitan Productions. 
Hearst Castle became so famous that it was
parodied in the 1941 Orson Welles film CITIZEN KANE
as Charles Foster Kane's "Xanadu."

Hearst prescribed strict rules for his guests despite the presence of his own mistress,
the actress Marion Davies, on the property.
Though Hearst remained legally married until his death in 1951, his wife Millicent Hearst
visited San Simeon only occasionally after they separated in the mid-1920's.

Donated by the Hearst Corporation to the State of California in 1957, Hearst Castle is now
a State Historical Monument and a National Historic Landmark, open for public tours.

In September of 2005, I visted Hearst Castle, spending 2 days taking 4 of the  daily tours
offered by the National Park Service.

CLICK HERE to view a series of photos taken during that visit.