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a guide to hearst castle

While numerous mansions dot the California landscape, none can compare to the opulent splendor of the Hearst Castle. Now a National Historic Landmark and California Historical Landmark, the grounds include a 165-room castle and 127 acres of stunning views of the California coast, beautiful fountains, terraced gardens, and massive pools.

general information

The Hearst Castle was conceived by William Randolph Hearst and designed primarily by architect Julia Morgan. Work on the castle was carried out from 1919 until 1947. During that time, the property was under almost continual construction.

Hearst Castle is actually made up of a number for houses. Casa Grande is the main structure on the grounds, and is where the Hearst family lived. Casa del Mar is the largest of the guest houses on the property. Casa del Monte was the first guest house constructed on the property. Casa del Sol is a Moorish style home that features antique Persian tiles.

Hearst Castle includes a number of historic areas. For example, the property has two stunning pools. The Neptune Pool took twelve years to build. This outdoor pool is over 100-feet long and up to 95-feet wide. It has sculptures of Neptune and four Italian relief sculptures. It also include an oil-burning heating system and Vermont marble lining the basin, gutters, and alcove. The Roman Pool is an indoor pool that features eight statues of Roman heroes, gods, and goddesses. It is styled after an ancient Roman bath. It also has a nearby handball court and exercise room.

The Wine Cellar is part of the Casa Grande basement, and consists of two rooms. the Wine Cellar covers over 9,000 square-feet of space. The wine collection features the finest wines available during Hearst's time, mainly wines from France and Germany. There are a very few wines from California.

The Hearst Castle Gardens feature bougainvillea and hyacinths. The 127-acre gardens always have something in bloom, whether it California poppies, jasmine, or rhododendrons. The gardens include native plants, as well as rare flowers and lush foliage.


You have a number of tour options when you visit Hearst Castle. A few of the more popular ones are described, here. Others are available.

The Grand Rooms Tour is probably the tour to choose if you've never visited Hearst Castle. This hour-long tour includes viewings of the five social rooms that are in Casa Grande, the largest house at Hearst Castle. You'll visit the Refectory, Theater, Morning Room, Billiard Room, and Assemply Room. An accessibility-designed version of this tour is also available.

The Upstairs Tour is an hour-long tour of Casa Grande's upper levels. You'll get to see the Celestial Suite, main library, Gothic Study, Robbia Room, and Duplex Suite.

The Evening Tour is an hour and 40 minute tour offered on Friday and Saturday night in the fall. The tour is a visual display of nightlife at the Hearst Castle. Volunteers dress in 1930s clothing, and you'll have the change to see a vintage newsreel in a private theater.

The Holiday Twilight Tour takes place during the Christmas holiday season. The 75-minute tour gives you a chance to see Christmas decorations in the Casa del Sol guest home and the Casa Grande's main social rooms.


The only way to explore Hearst Castle is by purchasing tour tickets. You can simply walk up to the Visitor Center an purchase a tour ticket if they are available. A better option is to call or book online. Tour prices vary, depending on the specific tour selected. For example, the Grand Rooms Tour is $25 ($12 for kids), while other tours can cost as much as $100 per person. Discounts are available for group tours and school tours.

Click here to book online, or call 1-800-444-4445.

Hours of operation are from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM.