Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hearst Castle - Ode to Excess

Yes, it's Extravagant, Astonishing and Unrestrained. It's Inspiring, Surreal and Indulgent. It's Wealth, Power and Privilege.
It's in the middle of nowhere...
Don't get me wrong. The California countryside around Hearst Castle is beautiful. San Simeon stretches with ocean and farmland as far as the eye can see. But getting to the area takes time and planning. Advanced reservations for this popular attraction are a must and at least an overnight stay is required to see everything.
I was lucky enought to book a special Friday evening tour. What makes this tour different is the historical reenactors throughout the grounds who portray party guests from the heyday of social activities here. Celebrities, moguls and royalty all flocked to this legendary location for fabled parties and events. Cary Grant and Bing Crosby were regulars. Winston Churchill visited. Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers were guests. It was THE place to see and be seen.
Construction started in 1919 through 1947 and included 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world's largest private zoo on over 250,000 acres. William Randolph Hearst created a publishing empire at the turn of the 20th Century and when he decided to build, money was no object. Entire ceilings purchased from Medieval European castles were installed. Priceless
antique tapestries, paintings, first edition books, Egyptian pottery, furniture and art fills the 165 rooms. It's amazing. Mr. Hearst was a man of large appetites. His guests must have had the time of their lives. Need to watch Citizen Kane once more...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, if a large antiques warehouse with priceless works of art piled up without any thought gets you excited, it's the place for you. It's not an ode to excess, it's an ode to combination of unlimited money and bad taste.