Sunday, November 16, 2014

Castles for the Poor and the Rich

I wanted to tour the Hearst Castle on our trip down the California coast, but first stopped in Cambria to see the "Poor Man's Hearst Castle."

Otherwise know as "Nit Wit Ridge," it was built by Art Beal, a garbage collector, who bought the lot in 1928 and spent the next 50 years building his castle out of materials that others were throwing away. He also salvaged natural materials.

One of those natural materials was abalone shells, which you can see here.

And there are a lot of quaint folk art pieces, such as this deer.

There were also a lot of toilets on the roof. I'm not sure what they were used for.

The current owners work hard to maintain the property, and do offer tours. Unfortunately, we we there at the wrong time.

We then hurried on up to San Simeon for our tour of the Hearst Castle. No, we didn't fly...

They take you in a bus up the hill from the parking area to the castle.

The Casa Grande is the centerpiece of the castle, at over 60,000 square feet.

The castle was built over 28 years, from 1919 to 1947 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951. It looks more like a church to me.

They only take you to a few of the larger rooms on the basic tour, the Grand Rooms tour. This was the dining room. He always had a lot of company.

Beautiful old tapestries decorated the walls of all the rooms we went in.

I loved the ceiling.

The Neptune Pool, with Roman pillars, was their little backyard swimming pool. It was empty when we were there because of the drought in California.

Looking back at the Casa Grande and the Italian Cypress trees from the pool.

The indoor Roman Pool did have water. People used to jump off that thing that looks like a balcony.

Hearst used to have a private zoo and descendants from those animals still roam the grounds. On our way back down in the bus we saw a big herd of Barbary Sheep.

Both Nit Wit Ridge and the Hearst Castle are California State Historical Landmarks.


  1. I've lived most my life in CA and have been to Hearst Castle a few times, but I've never heard of Nit Wit Castle! I'll have to check it out next time I'm in that area. Thanks!

  2. Hurst must like castles because at one time he owned one not far from Cardiff. Here's the link

  3. We visited Nit Wit Ridge when we were in Cambria last summer, too, but no tours were going on. Quite a quirky and interesting place! It would have been fun to do the tour and learn more about it.

  4. Very interesting places both! Adding to our 'bucket list'. Thanks for the great previews again.

  5. We were up that way(SLO)but we missed Nit Wit Ridge. Maybe next time. We did take in Hearst Castle. Our trip down the west coast from Oregon has been super.

  6. I'm not much for swimming pools, but jumping from that balcony into that pretty pool would be hard to resist.


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