Seeing the Hearst Castle

Hearst didn't think small.

Hearst didn’t think small.

Today I went to see the Hearst Castle with my parents (they’re visiting the Central Coast right now). The drive up Route 1 from SLO to San Simeon is beautiful. We went on the Grand Rooms tour at the Hearst Castle. The property is amazing in its scope and grandeur. The size, architecture, art, gardens, and views are almost overwhelming.

On the bus ride up the winding driveway from the visitor’s center to the castle we listened to Alex Trebek tell us about the Hearst family. I also learned that Alex likely does not speak Spanish or have any familiarity with Latin (his pronunciation of Quercus agrifolia almost made me laugh out loud). I’d like to know why he kept his exaggerated faux Spanish accent for the Latin name.

An impressive collection of artwork.

An impressive collection of artwork.

One of the first things our tour guide clarified was that William Randolph Hearst never referred to the property as a castle; he called it a ranch. The castle moniker came from the public. The towers make the house look castle-like from distant Route 1.

I was very impressed with the vast collection of artwork. Many of the sculptures were hundreds of years old. On top of that, all of the art was purchased from legal sources–no stolen pieces are in the collection. Buying this massive amount of art, especially the sculptures, from legal sources means it is a very expensive collection. It was very cool to stand in the courtyard and think of all the artists that labored over the pieces on display. Many talented individuals spanning hundreds of years contributed to the decor.

The number of statues is staggering. Seemingly everywhere you look in the courtyards and walkways a statue stands. I enjoyed seeing the grounds and outdoor areas more than the interior tour of the grand rooms.

A lion stands guard at a walkway.

A lion stands guard at a walkway.

I saw tennis courts that made me envious. It’s especially cool to think that Bill Tilden played on these courts (and I’m sure some other athletes and celebrities too).

The tennis courts.

The tennis courts.

The property has two pools, one inside and one outside. Saying they are elaborate is an understatement.

The outdoor pool.

The outdoor pool.

The views of the Pacific Ocean from the property are striking. The scene is so big a camera fails to capture it.

The view from a patio.

A view of the Pacific Ocean from a patio, with a fountain statue in the foreground.

A scene from a higher patio shot as a four picture panorama.

A scene from a higher patio shot as a four picture panorama.

A wide panorama.

A wide panorama.

The Hearst Castle is worth seeing. The exterior areas you can explore and lounge in after your tour are wonderful and extensive. And it’s almost worth the price of admission to listen to Alex Trebek say Quercus agrifolia.


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