Priceless medieval tapestries and Hollywood gaudiness; oddly-proporioned rooms built specially to house the incredibly ornate ceilings imported whole from Europe; opulence and ostentation set against austere wind-swept hills where cows still graze alongside zebras from what used to be the world's biggest private zoo. Magnificent, but mad.
|View from a terrace. The whole estate is illuminated by caryatids, two of which are in this picture|
|A branch full of mandarins against the background of a poolside colonnade|
|The pool house modeled on a Greek Parthenon - rather more Epicurean than Spartan.|
|The approach to the castle with lots of citrus trees and palms|
|A glimpse of a replica of Donatello's David behind a rhododendron|
|A bas relief at the grand entrance|
|Castle grounds with lots of roses|
|A fuchsia blooming against clean geometric lines of the stonework|
|One of two towers of La Casa Grande, housing Mr. Hearst's bedroom|
|Ornate carving above the main entrance to La Casa Grande|
|Too many columns?|
Remember the movie "Sabrina" with Audrey Hepburn? The Larrabee family had gardeners to take care of the grounds, a tree surgeon on a retainer, an indoor swimming pool and an outdoor swimming pool. Well, so did the Hearst family.
The Neptune Pool
The huge outdoor pool is called the Neptune pool. It is fed by mountain water and is adorned by several statues made of marble quarried in Italy.
A sculptural group by the Neptune Pool
Despite being a century old, the statues look pristine and dazzlingly white because of the absence of air-borne pollutants that give old statues their aged look elsewhere.
The indoor pool is called the Roman pool. It contains statues of Roman gods and heroes and is styled after a Roman bath. It is decorated from top to bottom with spectacular glass mosaic tiles (smalti) from Murano, Italy.
|The Roman Pool|