Ever wanted to visit a palatial estate in California? America is home to some truly notable resorts and estates open to the public. One of the most notable in California is the Winchester Mystery House that was built for the souls of those killed with Winchester rifles. Alternatively, if one is on the East Coast, consider visiting the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina - the largest privately-owned house in America.

Back in California, one mansion that should be high on everyone's list is Hearst Castle. It was built between 1919 and 1947 and is today a registered National Historic Landmark. It is a living monument to the decadence of the Roaring Twenties.

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Background Of Hearst Castle

The Hearst Castle reaches its social peak in the Roaring Twenties and into the 30s. The guest list of this period included most of the Hollywood stars (like Charlie Chaplin). Other notable guests included Winston Churchill and Calvin Coolidge. The palatial castle was under near-continuous construction from 1920 to 1939 when World War Two broke out. Construction resumed again after the war and ended for good in 1947.

The estate is heavily influenced by mythology and the antiquities of the past. Notably, it includes many Egyptian, Greek, and Roman collections and antiques. The oldest works include stone figures of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet from around 1550 to 1189 BC. There are nine Roman sarcophagi and one of the world's largest private collections of Greek vases.

The Neptune Pool has been described as the "most sumptuous swimming pool on earth" and was even reconstructed three times before Hearst was happy with it.

Today four tours of Hearst Castle are offered. Due to significant damage to the roadway from storms, as at the time of writing, the Hearst Castle is closed. When it reopens advanced tickets will be required for all the tours of the estate. Updates can be found on their website.

Grand Rooms Tour

This is the tour that is recommended for first-time visitors. One will tour the opulent social room and imagine what it was like being a guest of William Randolph Hearst in the Roaring Twenties. Some of the highlights include the Assembly Room, the Billiard Room, the Theater, the Refectory, the Gardens, the Neptune Pool, and the Roman Pool. This tour is designed to offer an overview of the castle.

  • Duration: 60 Minutes
  • Type: Guided Tour
  • Accessibility: An Accessible Designed Tour Is Available
  • Adults: Starting From $25.00
  • Children: Starting From $12.00 (Aged 5 to 12)

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Upstairs Suites Tour

In this tour, one will ascend the narrow winding staircases of the mansion. One will get to see the eye-watering libraries, the guest accommodations, and even the owner Hearst's own suite. The highlights include the Library, the Gothic Suites, The Duplex Bedrooms, the Doge's Suite, the Celestrial Suite, the Gardens, Neptune Pool, and the Roman Pool. Marvel at the library with its 150 ancient Greek vases and so much more opulence.

  • Duration: 60 Minutes
  • Type: Guided Tour
  • Accessibility: One Will Need To Climb 322 Steps Of Spiral Stairs
  • Adults: Starting From $25.00
  • Children: Starting From $12.00 (Aged 5 to 12)

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Cottages & Kitchen Tour

Want to see more than just the main mansion? The main mansion is part of a complex and with this tour, one can see the cottages and kitchens that supported the castle. Tour two of the hilltop's sumptuously furnished guest cottages. Some of the highlights include the Wine Cellar, House B (Casa del Monte), House A (Casa del Mar), The Kitchen, the Gardens, Neptune Pool, and the Roman Pool. One will see how these cottages are luxurious mansions that housed the Hearst family before the main residence was ready. They offer stunning mountain and Pacific coast views. One will be taken aback by the wine cellar and the gigantic size of the kitchen.

  • Duration: 60 Minutes
  • Type: Guided Tour
  • Accessibility: One Will Need To Walk Around 204 Stairs Up And Down
  • Adults: Starting From $25.00
  • Children: Starting From $12.00 (Aged 5 to 12)

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Julia Morgan Tour

The Julia Morgan Tour is only offered seasonally - it is not offered during the summer months. On this tour, one will see how Julia Morgan quietly broke the barriers and overcame the obstacles of the time. She was the first certified female architect in California. Learn how she would work to design college campuses, women's clubs, YWCAs, religious houses, private homes, and of course this palatial castle. This tour delves into her life and career and explores how she had her own architectural office. See rarely-seen areas of Hearst Castle, photographic displays of her architectural drawings, personal items, and more.

  • Duration: 120 Minutes
  • Type: Guided Tour
  • Accessibility: Includes Around 750 or More Steps (Up and Down)
  • Adults: Starting From $100.00
  • Children: Starting From $100.00 (Aged 5 to 12)

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Next: Hearst Castle Is A National Historic Landmark In California, But Is It Worth Seeing?