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Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark and California Historical Landmark mansion located on the Central Coast of California, United States. Hearst Castle is located near the community of San Simeon, California, approximately 400 kms from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and about 69 km from San Luis Obispo at the northern end of San Luis Obispo County. The estate itself is about 8 kms inland atop a hill of the Santa Lucia Range at an altitude of about 2,000 feet. The region is sparsely populated because the Santa Lucia Range abuts the Pacific Ocean, which provides dramatic seaside vistas but few opportunities for development and hampered transportation. The surrounding countryside visible from the mansion remains largely undeveloped. Initially the Federal Government had the responsibility of overseeing the maintenance estate on the demise of William Randolph Hearst. This proved to be a costly affair and hence the Fed s handed over the maintenance of the entire estate to the State of California.

Hearst Castle was built on Rancho Piedra Blanca that William Randolph Hearst's father, George Hearst, originally purchased in 1865. The younger Hearst grew fond of this site over many childhood family camping trips. He inherited the ranch, which had grown to 250,000 acres with about 23 km of coastline, from his mother Phoebe Hearst. This is where the young William Randolph grew up in natural surroundings in a huge estate spread over thousands of acres. Even today as you drive up to the Hearst Castle you can spot zebras, wild buffalos, cows, goats, sheep, deers and other types of wild animals that are maintained by the Hearst Trust. It is jocularly said that the size of the estate is so huge that by the time a child returns home from playing he/she would have become an adult!

Over a period of time as William grew up he became quite fed up with the architecture of the existing dwelling and desired to build something spectacular. For the new mansion he commissioned the famous architect of those times - Ms Julia Morgan sometimes in 1919 to design and implement his dream mansion. After travelling the length and breadth of the world and after examining many contemporary designs William okayed the Spanish type of design for the architecture of the mansion and desired that the towers of the mansion be patterned on the towers of the Church of Ronda which he happened o see.

The Hearst Castle as it stands today features 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theatre, an airfield, and the world's largest private zoo. Morgan, an accomplished civil engineer, devised a gravity-based water delivery system that transports water from artesian wells on the slopes of Pine Mountain about 3,500 feet high and about 11 kms away. The total square footage of the buildings on the estate exceeds 90,000 square feet. The area of Casa Grande, or the castle is about 60,645 square feet.

One of the main points of attraction is the Neptune swimming pool. It is said that the design and size of the pool kept increasing as the additions and changes were made to the dimensions of the main castle. Its centre piece has the facade of an ancient Roman temple. The castle has innumerable rare and priceless artefacts, a huge dining hall, an indoor swimming pool, acres and lush gardens endless rows of flowers and a private wildlife park. There was also a private zoo which is now defunct.

On an ending note many of you would have known about Patricia Campbell Hearst (born February 20, 1954) and also known as Patricia Hearst - the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst. She became nationally known for events following her kidnapping. In 1974, while she was a 19-year-old student living in Berkeley, California, Hearst was abducted by a left-wing terrorist group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) She became supportive of their cause making propaganda announcements for them and taking part in illegal activities. Patty Hearst was found 19 months after her kidnapping, by which time she was a fugitive wanted for serious crimes. She was found guilty of bank robbery and later her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter and pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

This was an exhilarating tour and I would say the high point of our travel USA 2016 itinerary. It is incomprehensible as to how one family and two individuals - father and son could create an empire spread over more than 250,000 acres (and this is not the only property) which is still intact as of date.

Enjoy the pictures.

Shankar Adisesh
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Categories & Keywords
Category:Architecture and Structures
Subcategory:Places of Interest
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:Billionairesofamerica, Businesstycoonof, Hearstcastle, Newspapermagnate, Pattyhearst., Sansimeon, Williamrandolphhearst, america