21 Beautiful Famous Castles in California
California is home to one of the largest economies in the world and big money has been made by some people in the Golden State some of whom have used their great wealth to build castles in California. The state is also home to many eccentrics and some of them have also built castles in California. The result is a marvelous collection of beautiful famous castles in California and presented here are 21 of them.
Hearst Castle in San Simeon
Hearst Castle is located at 750 Hearst Castle Road which is right off the Pacific Coast Highway halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles in San Simeon, California. Hearst Castle was built by architect Julia Morgan for media mogul William Randolph Hearst beginning in 1919 and continuing until 1947. The castle is a magnificent palace that contains 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 165 rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools some with hand laid tiles, tennis courts, movie theater, an airfield and even a zoo.
Hearst filled the castle with European antiques and tapestries and used to entertain the biggest politicians and Hollywood celebrities of his time. Today Hearst Castle is owned by the State of California as a park which offers six separate tours of the castle and grounds and some of the over 1 million visitors per year can still zebras roaming the grounds.
Scotty's Castle in Death Valley
Scotty's Castle is located along Scotty's Castle Road in Death Valley National Park in western California. The castle was built by Chicago insurance millionaire Albert Johnson beginning in 1922 and named for Walter Scott or Death Valley Scotty who scammed Johnson into investing in Scott's fake gold mine. Johnson and his wife forgave Scotty and became friends with him and felt Death Valley was healthy for Johnson and they built Scotty's Castle as a retreat for themselves and allowed Scott to tell people he had actually built the place. Johnson's insurance company went broke during the Great Depression and eventually Scotty's Castle was sold to the United States Government and today is open to the public for tours conducted by the National Park Service.
Howden Castle in Ben Lomond
Howden Castle is located right on Highway 9 in Ben Lomond, California which is just inland from the coast north of Santa Cruz. Howden Castle was built by Robert Howden beginning in 1927 to resemble Scottish Castles. Today Howden Castle is available to rent and costs $2,000 per week.
Rubel Castle in Glendora
Rubel Castle is located at 844 North Live Oak Ave in Glendora, California. Rubel Castle was built beginning in 1968 by eccentric Michael Rubel and his friends. Though mainly built of concrete the castle is also made up of any kind of junk Rubel could get his hands on. The castle is built in an old citrus packing house that Rubel's mother who was a Ziegfeld Follies dancer used to use for Hollywood parties that were attended by Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Alfred Hitchcock and other celebrities. Michael Rubel could not stand the noise from the parties and began to build the castle to shield himself from the racket. Rubel died in 2007 and willed Rubel Castle to the Glendora Historical Society who conducts prearranged tours of the place on occasion at $5 per person.
Sam's Castle in Pacifica
Sam's Castle is a private residence located in Pacifica, California. Though closed to the public Sam's Castle can be seen from public Sharp Park Beach in Pacifica.
Vikingsholm Castle on Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe
Located at the head of Emerald's Bay in Lake Tahoe, California is Vikingsholm Castle. Vikingsholm was built by Lora J. Knight in 1929 and contains 38 rooms and was built as a summer home. Today Vikingsholm Castle is open to the public for tours and is a popular Lake Tahoe tourist attraction.
Amorosa Winery Castle in Napa Valley
The Amorosa Winery Castle is located in the beautiful Napa Valley in Northern California at 4045 North Saint Helena Highway which is also Highway 29 in Calistoga. The Amorosa Winery Castle or Castello di Amoroso opened in 2007 and was built by wine maker Daryl Sattui to showcase his vineyards and wines. The castle cost around $30 million to build and took 14 years and includes 107 rooms spread out over 121,000 square feet. Amorosa Castle is open for tours, wine tasting and even wine making classes.
Berkeley Castle or Bowles Hall at University of California, Berkeley
The Berkeley Castle or Bowles Hall is a castle-like dormitory located on the campus of the University of California Berkeley. Bowles Hall was built in 1928 by Mary McNear Bowles as a tribute to her late husband Philip E. Bowles who was a Cal Berkeley Regent. Unbelievably the University administration wanted to tear the Berkeley Castle down in the late 1980's but were prevented from doing so when Bowles Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
Preston Castle in Ione
Image Source (Creepy interior of Preston Castle)
The Preston Castle was built beginning in 1890 to house the reform school the Preston School of Industry which was opened in 1894. The school occupied the Preston Castle until 1960 when new buildings were built and the castle fell into disrepair. In 2001 the Preston Castle Foundation was formed by the State of California to restore and preserve the castle. Today Preston Castle is open for public tours and is located at 201 Waterman Road in Ione, California just off Highway 104. Preston Castle is reported to be haunted.
Stimson House Castle in Los Angeles
The Stimson House Castle is located at 2421 South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, California. Stimson House Castle was built in 1891 by Thomas Douglas Stimson who got rich in lumber and banking. In 1896 a private detective working for Stimson lit off a stick of dynamite against a castle wall and told Stimson someone was trying to kill him. Eventually Stimson figured out the detective was the guilty party and sent him off to jail. Stimson House Castle ended up in the hands of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity from USC in 1940 and they created such an ongoing ruckus that a wealthy neighbor made them an offer for the castle they could not refuse in 1948 and then the wealthy neighbor gave the place to the Sisters of St. Joseph Convent. The place was a convent until 1969 and then was used to house students from Mount St. Mary's College until 1993 when it was again turned back into the convent it remains today.
San Francisco Armory in Mission District
The San Francisco Armory Castle is located at the corner of 14th and Mission Streets in the Mission District of San Francisco. The armory was built in 1914 by the city of San Francisco and contains 160 rooms spread out over some 190,300 square feet. The California National Guard used the San Francisco Armory Castle until the late 1960's and it was decommissioned in 1979 and purchased by Armory Studios in 2007. The site has been the scene of boxing matches and other events over the years and scenes from the first Star Wars movie were filmed here in 1976.
Sleeping Beauty Castle in Anaheim