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Hearst Castle

Publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst built for himself a massive home, more fittingly called a castle, which we visited yesterday. The more I learned about the place the more I liked it - he was an avid collector, and had rare pieces of history and art from around the world. The home is, in many hundreds of subtle ways, designed to act as a showplace for his most prized pieces from his collection. Millions of dollars, decades of time, and many false starts later, what he left behind was a still-unfinished but amazing creation that is difficult to sum up in words and pictures. However, here are a few more of both, so that you can get an idea. Also be sure to ask the ol' wiki about W.R.Hearst and his castle!


A further amazing thing about the place is that he tried to design various areas of the compound like various parts of Europe which he had visited as a boy. His trip there apparently blew his mind (understandably) and he wanted to re-create what he saw at his own home - and in many ways he was successful! Above is the main house, where dinner was served and where he lived for much of his time at the Castle. It is styled after the many small-town churches that are scattered across Europe, but in particular with an influence from Spain. There is a set of bells in and near the towers which still work, as it played 'to everything there is a season' as we approached. The guide told us that they are only ringing them for the anniversary, so it was fortuitous!


The Neptune Pool is just a spectacular thing to see, and made even cooler when you learn that it is all to showcase his relics that make up the Greek structure at the far end. About 1/2 of that is original - the columns and the statuary - and he wanted a pool to do it justice. Interestingly, this is the third incarnation of the pool; as happened often in his project, he would be unhappy with how something worked out, and simply tear it out and start over.


Not to be boring with yet another pool, but along with the Neptune there was an indoor pool that was just astonishing. All of the small tiles in that picture that may seem gold in color, were of course covered with gold leaf that had been melted into the glass of the tile. There is even a 10 foot high platform that you could use to dive into the pool, the bottom of which is decorated with stars (again the gold leaf tiles). Once you dive into the starfield, you surface and look up to see fish painted on the ceiling. Good thing Hearst didn't allow his guests to drink to excess, or there would be some mighty confused swimmers in the wee small hours! A cool place to visit, and recommended for anyone who has ever wanted to make for themselves a huge house to showcase their collection - hits close to home for me I guess!
Posted by charlie on July 30th 2008, 11:34 AM
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