12/28/2010 07:48 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hearst Castle, the American Palace

There is nothing quite like an extended, languorous weekend spent away at Hearst Castle. On my third visit, I stopped at Solvang on the way. Hearst has become my favorite castle in the world, with honorable mentions going to Bodiam, England; Neuschwanstein, Germany and Topaki, Turkey (see slideshow below for more details).

William Randolph Hearst constructed his castle in part by importing parts of European castles. Take, for example, the Neptune Pool patio, featuring an entire ancient Roman temple front!

Hearst spent much time relocating the finest antiquities and renaissance art from around the world, while sacrificing no modern comfort and convenience with his inclusion of air conditioning and modern bathrooms. Additionally, this castle finally gave him a chance to showcase his extensive art collection that had been hitherto warehoused.

Hearst castle is more like a palace. Not only is it opulent and gorgeous but his immaculate taste contributed to its splendor as well. His architect, Julia Morgan, was absolutely the most talented female architect of her time, an inspiring symbol of female empowerment.

As a quick end note, I can't help but mention Heart's granddaughter, Patty, who gained notoriety following her kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in 1974 as she ended up joining her captors and committing a bank robbery!

Hearst Castle