September 29, 2013

La Cuesta Encantada

In 1947 the vision of William Randolph Hearst and the incredible architect, Julia Morgan, was finally realized in La Cuesta Encantada or the Enchanted Hill. Better known as Hearst Castle, this towering estate in San Simeon sits looking out onto the ocean from the high hill of the 40,000 acre Hearst estate. With 167 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, pools, terraces, and walkways, Hearst Castle was built to showcase William Hearst's vast art collection and entertain the elite of his era. 

Both those of political esteem, like Winston Churchill, and those of notoriety in Hollywood, such as Charlie Chaplin (who often frequented the estate), were invited to stay at Hearst's grand home. Guests could enjoy tennis courts, horseback riding (a pastime which William himself had grown up enjoying across the endless acres of his family estate), multiple pools, a movie theater, miles of gardens, and many other amenities. An eccentric character, William Hearst wanted his guests to fully enjoy the lavish fantasy that he had created on La Cuesta Encantada. 

In 1957, six years after William Hearst's passing, the Hearst Corporation donated the estate to the State of California, which then turned the land into a state park. Today Hearst Castle is open for tours daily. For just $25 you can be transported into what not only feels like another era, but another world. 

Upon arrival to the tour you are placed on a bus that takes you up the very steep and generally treacherous mountain. It is a wee bit sketchy, but the view at the top is entirely worth it. You arrive at the summit and continue your accent up to the main house, named Casa Grande, by foot. Casa Grande is the largest house, but there are actually four houses on the main estate, and you can purchase a more extensive tour that allows you to walk through them, as well as, more of Casa Grande. I personally recommend this longer tour if you don't have young children and like history. I definitely plan on going back for the longer tour at some point. 

However, the Casa Grande Tour is plenty substantial. During it you are lead through the main house through several of the beyond ornately decorated rooms, while a tour guide explains some of the traditions of the home and Mr. Hearst's interesting belongings. For example, you are shown one of his collections: his ceiling collection, which is displayed right above your head in every room. After the walkthrough of the main house you are allowed to roam the gardens at your leisure. 

Descend out of the theater into the gardens. 

Along with the four houses on the main estate, there is also two SPECTACULAR pools. 

The first, The Neptune Pool, is literally like walking into a picturesque, yet imaginary, vision of Greece.   

Even Aphrodite makes an appearance to add to the authenticity. 

The second pool is the last thing you see before you get back on the bus to descend down the mountain, and it is well worth the wait. The Indoor Roman Pool is just as spectacular as the first and trust me when I say, those security guards are there for a reason: you'll want nothing more than to jump straight into the dark blue water of the pool. It even features a diving platform and a ten foot depth all the way across, just to tempt you. 

Hearst Castle is officially one of my very favorite places I have been to in California (and I've been up and down this state many a time). There's just something a little magical about the whole vision William Hearst and Julia Morgan created. If you had limitless money would you too not want to turn your childhood home into a castle? Some people dream, Mr. Hearst did. I think that's what I must like about him so much. 

If you want to pretend you're a modern princess strolling about her castle grounds all day (let's be real, that's exactly what I was doing the entire time), you can visit the Hearst Castle webpage and book a ticket today. Occasionally there are free spots left on a tour on the day of, but reservations are strongly recommended. Or if you're out of the area and can't make it, you can take a virtual tour here, which is really quite nifty! Enjoy!

Yours, Kenna 

P.S. I hear the Castle decorates for Christmas, sounds like the perfect time to go to me!  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...