Premier-Class Pools: The Roman Pool at Hearst Castle
There are swimming pools, and then there’s the Roman Pool.
A week ago we featured The Neptune Pool located at Hearst Castle in California. As noted in that blog post, Hearst wasn’t one to skip on the amenities, and while he was having the Neptune Pool built, a second pool was built indoors: The Roman Pool at Hearst Castle
Fortunately for the sanity of the pool’s designer Julia Morgan, the construction of the Roman Pool took a mere seven years to build, just over half of the 12 years it took to complete the constantly redesigned and rebuilt Neptune Pool.
Far more ornamented than its outdoor counterpart, the pool is surrounded by eight marble statues drawn from the Roman pantheon of gods and goddesses. While beautiful, the statues–based upon Greek and Roman examples–are nearly overshadowed by the surrounding tile work.
Inspired by the Galla Placidia, a 5th century Italian mausoleum, the room is covered floor to ceiling with mosaics comprised of over a million 1 inch square semitransparent glass tiles. The smalti tiles are infused with blue and orange dyes, with some having an additional decoration of gold leaf applique. The mosaics on the marble walls depict aquatic monsters that were popular design elements in ancient Roman baths, while the ceiling mosaic is a dark night sky punctuated with gold stars.
But let’s not forget about the pool itself. Reflecting the Roman bathhouse motif that Hearst was striving for, the pool is heated via an underfloor heating system. This gives swimmer a sense of constant, pleasurable radiant heat, while still being cool enough to enjoy for hours at a time. Just in case you wanted to savor the comfort into the late hours, the pool is surrounded by dozens of alabaster lamps, casting just enough light for you to appreciate the glory of the Roman Pool.