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Visit Hearst Castle

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Discover this legendary estate’s history, and learn more about its twenty five thousand artifacts, before seeing it in person.

Hearst Castle’s history begins in 1865, when George Hearst purchased 40,000 acres of ranchland. In 1919, William Randolph Hearst inherited what had grown to more than 250,000 acres, and was dreaming of ways to transform it into a retreat he called La Cuesta Encantada—Spanish for “Enchanted Hill.” By 1947, Hearst and architect Julia Morgan had created Hearst Castle: 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways—all built to house Hearst’s specifications and to showcase his legendary art collection.

In 1865, George Hearst purchased 40,000 acres of ranchland that included the mexican ranchos of Piedra Blanca, San Simeon and Santa Rosa. In 1919, his son, William Randolph Hearst, inherited the land from his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst. He eventually expanded it to encompass 250,000 acres.

Originally known as “Camp Hill,” its wilderness offered a magnificent campsite for family and friends, but Hearst envisioned more comfortable accommodations. His simple instructions to famed San Francisco architect Julia Morgan in 1919 were:

“Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a little something.”

Hearst renamed the hilltop that crowned his huge ranch “La Cuesta Encantada” – The Enchanted Hill. By 1947, Hearst and Morgan had created an estate of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways – an American castle that was destined to become one of the world’s greatest showplaces for his art collection.

HISTORIC AREAS AND LOCATIONS AT THE CASTLE

HEARST CASTLE POOLS Two pools can be found at Hearst Castle: the Neptune Pool and the Roman Pool. Each one is truly unique. They were the settings for lively parties, social gatherings, exercise, and recreation.

WINE CELLAR Filled with the finest wine money could buy, the Wine Cellar was constructed during the Prohibition Era, and featured vaults to protect Hearst’s collection.

HEARST AIRPORT The original airstrip—located directly behind the Hearst Castle Visitor Center—was built in the 1920s. It provided an easier, much faster way for W. R. Hearst’s architect and famous guests to reach his estate at San Simeon than trains and automobiles.

THE ZOO Hearst Castle was once the site of the world’s largest private zoo. Although no longer in operation, the “bear pits” can be seen on the way down the hilltop when visitors depart. Descendants of Hearst’s zebras, aoudads, and Sambar deer can still be seen on Hearst ranchland.

THE GARDENS OF HEARST CASTLE Discover the lush, serene gardens that were planned and developed as carefully as other parts of the Castle were by Hearst and Morgan.