Hearst Castle: A Discovery on the Land of Columbus -Fahmida Mehreen
In the vast land of the United States of America lies a magnificent castle. It is called The Hearst Castle. Located on the Central Coast of California, Hearst Castle is a landmark that signifies Mediterranean Revival architecture. Its story began in 1865, when George Hearst, a man of substance from that era, bought 40,000 acres of ranchland. Later in 1919, William Randolph Hearst inherited that land and expanded it to over 250,000 acres, and it was he who was envisioning building a retreat called La Cuesta Encantada in Spanish, which means Enchanted Hill. This dream turned into reality in 1947 when an architect named Julia Morgan had designed and constructed the Hearst Castle. Today, it stands welcoming hundreds of visitors and tourists from all across the world to admire its benign beauty.
The main house consists of 165 rooms. Each of them has a state-of-art appeal. There are big halls with paintings hanging on the walls, lavish chandeliers, terraces, pools, and walkways. Outside, there is about 127 acres of garden with a wide variety of trees starting from natural herbs till orange trees. In spring, when the weather is mild, and the bright sun shines like golden glitter, one can see how astonishingly attractive the gardens and pavilions look!
Back in June 2007, I have had the opportunity to visit Hearst Castle. I was not much aware of this startling place till I got there. It was a site to see on my way from Los Angeles to San Francisco. You may like to know that Hearst Castle is a part of the California State Park System, and the inclusion was made through the approval of the California State Park Commission. At the present time, it is maintained by Hearst San Simeon State Park.
So, where to start from? Once you have reached Hearst Castle, first take a step inside the Visitor Center. Since it is a huge compound to see, it is advisable to take a short briefing from the Visitor Center about where to begin with and what are the major attractions. Besides, tickets must be bought from the Visitor Center. The price of the tickets varies depending on what the visitors choose to see inside. For instance, for Grand Room Tours, Upstairs Suites Tour, Accessibly Designed Grand Rooms, and Cottages Tour & Kitchen Tour, the tickets cost around $25 for each of the sets. On the other hand, for Evening Tours and Accessibly Designed Evening Tours it costs around $36 and more. For children, the ticket prices are categorized in the same way as for the adults. Group tours and school tours are also available. It is suggested that a prior booking be made since a large number of people tend to visit it every day. Nevertheless, you may also go directly, grab your tickets, along with some snacks and munchies and start off with your tour. There is a souvenir shop at the Visitors Center and a five-story screen that shows a movie documented on Hearst Castle. While visiting, do not forget to get a token to preserve from this memorable stopover!
Once done with the preliminary activities, hop on to a bus to start your ride. From the Visitors Center it is approximately five miles to the actual compound. With the aid of a narration by Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek, the scenic bus ride provides vistas of the natural beauty that surrounds this historic hilltop estate. The three diverse guided Hearst Castle Tours that are offered throughout the day explores a different element of the luxurious estate encompassing over 165 rooms and more than 125 rambling acres of gardens and other opulence. Hearst Castle is the home for many fine artworks, and every inch of Enchanted Hill showcases it. Some of the mentionable pieces are The Three Graces (famous neoclassical sculpture by the Italian artist Antonio Canova), Neptune (painting by French artist Simon Vouet which depicts the sea god Neptune), Marriage Chest (an ancient wooden drawer chest), Ceiling In Casa Del Monte (hand-painted and decorated chandelier with 22-carat gold leaf), Wellhead (structures that were once used as water stores), and so on.
Once the guided bit of your daytime tour packs up, you are free to explore the lush gardens, unreserved grounds, radiant Neptune Pool and grandiose Roman Pool at your own pace before you catch the bus that will take you back to the Visitor Center. You may also note that the visiting hours start from 9 am till 12 midnight.
It is commonly said that the United States of America is a land full of surprises. Indeed, it is! I never thought I would end up discovering such an extraordinary place to see. Hence, from that sheer feeling of excitement and utter happiness, I would say, please do make some time in your next visit to the United States and enthral Hearst Castle with your gracious presence. n