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Unlike in Europe royal political leaders (gangsters posing as leadership) did not build the palaces and ‘castles’ in most of the United States. Instead industrial leaders and merchants (robber barons) built them as giant pieces of conspicuous consumption. Among the most extravagant is La Cuesta Encantada, better known as the Hearst Castle.

It overlooks San Simeon bay about halfway between Monterey and Santa Barbara in California. Built by William Randolph Hearst as a private estate today it is a State Historic Monument, meaning the grounds can be toured by the public, much like many of the palaces of Europe. We can see the thousands of pieces of art and antiques that Hearst collected in this Mediterranean Revival style mansion. Quite a place to visit.

It was the basis for the Xanadu of Citizen Kane in the movie of the same name.

Hearst Castle was the home of media mogul, William Randolph Hearst from 1919 when he hired Julia Morgan to build a home for his family and himself on his family's ranch. It was worked on to his death in 1951, and was never completed. It sports more than 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways. It once even held the world's largest privately owned zoo! The main house and the 3 guestrooms each had their own Spanish name:

  • Main House: Casa Grande (The Big House) -- 5 Floors
  • Guesthouse #1: Casa del Sol (House of the Sun) -- 18-room guesthouse facing the Pacific Ocean
  • Guesthouse #2: Casa del Monte (House of the Mountain) -- 10-room guesthouse overlooking the Santa Lucia Mountains
  • Guesthouse #3: Casa del Mar (House of the Sea) -- largest and most elaborate guesthouse, W.R. Hearst spent his last years in this building.

The entire estate was known as "La Cuesta Encantada," the Enchanted Hill. When Hearst died in 1951 much of his estate was given to the state of California for the public's enjoyment by his family owned corporation (Hearst Corporation). Today, it is a popular tour bus stop and is located approximately 6 hours from Los Angeles or San Francisco and has 4 tours avaliable, each one exploring a different part of this man's home. It's located right off California Highway 1, you can't miss it.

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