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Favorite thing: I found a book at our library called The Golden Days of San Simeon by Ken Murray, someone who had spent some time at Hearst Castle as a guest. The book is a little fluffy, obviously Mr. Murray would not be inclined to dish any dirt on Hearst but it has some interesting photos of the people, parties and the rooms at the Castle. Some of the practical information is a little dated as it was written in 1971.
Orson Welles starred and directed Citizen Kane, "loosely" based on the life of William Randolph Hearst and his mistress Marion Davies. Hearst was still alive at the time it was made and he exerted a lot of power to make the film go away. Indeed, it was only after much time, almost 25 years, had passed that the film was viewed as a masterpiece.
And there are a slew of biographies about Hearst, I just didn't have time to tackle a 700 page book before my trip.
Updated Oct 31, 2006
Favorite thing: With a full and elaborately decorated movie theater in his home, Mr. Hearst knew the value of a home theater. Although nearly half a century has past his theater is still something to envy. Mr. Hearst was heavily involved in the movie industry would regularly have special screenings for his guests. You can view the theater in the Experience Tour.
Written Aug 16, 2007
Favorite thing: Wear comfortable shoes, as these are walking tours, and there are many stairways along your way, especially on the night tour. Since the estate sits on the top of a hill, it can be cool, especially if the wind is blowing. A jacket may make the viewing of the outside areas on your tour more comfortable. You will find a gift shop and some food items for a snack or light lunch inside the Visitor Center building.
Fondest memory: When I think of the Hearst Castle, a picture of the swimming pools and the view from the hilltop comes to my mind.
Written May 24, 2005
Favorite thing: You may encounter restoration work during your visit. As Mr. Hearst was constantly changing and renovating the castle, a little scaffolding may be in tune to the theme of the castle's prime. During our visit, the Neptune Pool was drained so that leaks could be repaired.
Written Aug 16, 2007
Favorite thing: My mom and dad went on the tour with me and some of my dad's photos are very similar to the postcards that are available of this pool. These photos were slides taken in April 1966
The Hearst Castle website says:
The pool appears to be styled after an ancient Roman bath such as the Baths of Caracalla in Rome c. 211-17 CE. .. The statues are rough copies of ancient Greek and Roman statues. One such copy represents the "Apoxyomenos." Statuary was used on a considerable scale in the Baths of Caracalla.... carved starting in 1930 by Carlo Freter working in Pietrasanta, Italy. They are rough copies of ancient Greek and Roman statues. The statue of "Apoxyomenos" is found near the east side of the building. "Apoxyomenos," also known as "The Scraper," is a statue of an athlete scraping dirt and moisture off the underside of his right arm. The original bronze statue was created by the Greek sculptor Lysippos c. 320 B.C.E. Because Lysippos' work does not survive, Freter worked from an ancient Roman copy of "The Scraper" found in the Vatican museum in Rome. Freter faithfully copied the Roman copy but also completes the statue with the addition of the missing strigil (scraper) and the missing fingers of the outstretched hand.
Fondest memory: Except for Apoxymomenos I can't find any website that identifies the gods that the statues represent. He's in photo 4 behind the lady in aqua pants. I think I see Venus and Diana, but I don't know what gods are respresented.
Updated Dec 24, 2010
Fondest memory: The Roman pool is spectacular with its blue tile, gold inlays, and reflections. Even with no heat, it would be so temping to jump in for a dip. Mr. Hearst's guests must have truly enjoyed a swim. We got to see it on all our tours. The different tours provided views from the opposite ends.
Written Aug 16, 2007
Favorite thing: the Hearst Castle State Monument is a favorite things to do site in the Central Coast of California for people travelling or rather touring between San Francisco and Los Angeles and are not in a rush sine the fastest way to go between the two points is Via Interstate 5 or US 101, many people travel via US 101 North then Highway 1 to Hearst Castle and then proceed to Carmel, Pebble Beach, 17 mile drive, Monterey then San Francisco or vice versa then proceed to Paso Robles then Solvang, Santa Barbara, Malibu then Los Angeles. The Hearst Castle State Monument is also popular for group tourists having a multi day bus tour of California.
Fondest memory: The assorted opulent and extravagant design and architecture and items in the Huge Complex and who again said that "the rich are different from you and me" sounds really true!
Written Aug 6, 2011
Favorite thing: Hey, the Hearst Castle State Monument and Park is one of the Most visited places in the State of California and is also on the map for the local and foreign tourists and everyday, there are orws and rows of cars, vans, recreational vehicles and tour buses parked in front of the huge Hearst Castle Visitor's Area Parking Lot as to see the wonderful sights and sounds of the Famed Hearst castle and to to the number of tours of the Complex. there are currently four tour options for parts of the Hearst Castle and if you get them all, you will spend the whole day and part of the night to tour around the vast estate and will cost you about 130 US Dollars all in all.
Fondest memory: the assorted tour options in hearst castle, I did the grand tour of Casa Grande 21 years ago and on a revisit, had the Upper Casa Grande Tour this time.
Written Aug 6, 2011
Favorite thing: there is no single grand tour of the complex, what the administrators did is to split the tours of the Hearst Castle into 4 kinds of tours (to be able to make more money?) and you cand do all of them if you have a whole day and part of the night free time ok.
according to their website:
All tours view the Castle’s two spectacular swimming pools—the outdoor Neptune Pool and the indoor Roman Pool. All visitors will also receive a ticket for our exclusive 40-minute film Hearst Castle – Building the Dream, shown on a five-story screen at the Visitor Center’s Hearst Castle Theater. This fascinating glimpse behind the scenes is shown all day at forty-five minute intervals. The first screening begins at 8:15 am.
Grand Rooms Tour
View the magnificent ground floor rooms of La Casa Grande (big house) where Mr. Hearst's guests met their host and were entertained during their stay at La Cuesta Encantada (the Enchanted Hill). See the Assembly Room, where guests met for cocktails, the Refectory, where meals were served, the Morning Room, Billiard Room and Theater. Your knowledgeable Guide will bring this estate to life sharing stories about Mr. Hearst and his many guests who visited for nearly three decades in the early part of the last century. Stroll the grounds at your leisure at the conclusion of your guided tour inside the castle.
Upstairs Suites Tour
View guest quarters and Mr. Hearst's private floor as you climb high up inside the castle. Visit two libraries and learn how Mr. Hearst's art collection was utilized in the castle. Stroll the grounds at your leisure at the conclusion of your guided tour inside the castle.
Cottages & Kitchen Tour
Visit the Wine Cellar, two lavish guest houses (including the one Mr. Hearst used when he first stayed here), and the surprisingly modern kitchen. Stroll the grounds at your leisure at the conclusion of your guided tour.
Fondest memory: Ticket Prices:
Tours Adult Ages(5-12)
Grand Rooms Tour $25 $12
Upstairs Suites Tour $25 $12
Cottages & Kitchen Tour $25 $12
Evening Tour $36 $18
Children under 5 are free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Prices are subject to change without notice.
I did the grand rooms tour 21 years ago and on a revisit, did the Upstairs Suites Tour.
Written Aug 6, 2011