By any one’s definition, owning your own castle must be considered the ultimate in luxury real estate. A few attempts have been made to build castles over the last few years, but the prohibitive costs are such that one tends to see over-sized villas or high-rises instead. So, this article deals with what I consider to be genuine castles. Most of them are extremely old and the running costs are such that they could only appeal to a genuinely wealthy individual. By genuinely wealthy, I mean bottomless pockets or you already own a country. (Or an oil company). Most of these are for sale, or available to rent, although some are just fascinating.
Eilean Donan, Scotland
This first one is Eilean Donan castle in Scotland, situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some pretty dramatic scenery, particularly in winter.
Available to rent on a by-the-day basis, although the owners suggest hiring it during the winter if you want to avoid crowds of tourists. Originally built in the 13th century, the castle has been demolished and rebuilt several times over the years and the current incarnation has starred in many films, including Highlander and James Bond – The World is not Enough. Larger versions of the photos here are available for download at the castle’s website.
Dracula’s Castle, Romania
The next castle is often referred to as Dracula’s castle, although the real name is Bran castle.
Perched on a cliff near Brasov in central Romania, it is a major tourist attraction, largely because of its ties to Prince Vlad the Impaler, the warlord who inspired Bram Stoker‘s 1897 novel, “Dracula.” Legend has it that Vlad spent one night at the castle in the 1400s. The castle was returned to it’s “rightful” owners, the Habsburg family after the fall of communism. Arch Duke Dominic Habsburg immediately offered the castle back to the Romanian government for $80 million but the offer was rejected. It then went on the open market, and I understand it is still available. Baytree Capital, the firm representing the family are of the opinion that the castle will eventually sell for $135 million, although I feel this is a little ambitious – especially with Romanian lawyers still fighting over the the decision to return it to the family in the first place. Time will tell.
Castello di Mazzè, Turin, Italy
This beautiful castle in Turin is available for hire to cater wedding parties at around 2,500-5,500 Euros a day and for sale at around 15 million Euros. (Negotiable). Notable visitors in the past include: King Vittorio Emanuele II di Savoia, Count of Cavour, Zar Nicola II, Count Brunetta d’Usseaux, Francesco De Sanctis and Benito Mussolini. Originally constructed in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 15th, the founder of the Italian Olympic movement, Count Eugenio Brunetta d’Usseax also lived here.
Castello di Casole, Italy
This is another castle in Italy. Lovingly restored along with 30 farmhouses on the largest privately-owned piece of land in Italy. For sale as fractional ownerships, although I believe some of the farmhouses are available as complete sales.
Bled Castle, Slovenia
Perched atop a cliff seems to be a popular position, and this next castle dates back to 1004, making it one of the oldest in Slovenia. The oldest part of the castle is the Romanesque tower, although additions have been made over the years. During the Middle Ages more towers were built and other buildings were added during the Baroque period. The chapel in the upper courtyard was built in the 16th century, and renovated around 1700, when it was painted with illusionist frescoes. This one is not currently for sale or rent, but is a popular tourist destination.
For more superb photographs, visit – cut-bled.com
Biniés Castle, Huesca, Spain
This next one is interesting because currently being used as a residence and the owners have spent some considerable time and effort renovating. Originally constructed in the 11th century, Biniés Castle is perched above the village with spectacular views of the valley.
Walton Castle, Somerset, England
This castle was originally built for Lord Poulett, a Somerset member of Parliament, back in the days when only the landed gentry were allowed to run for office, although, as I think about it, things haven’t really changed in that regard – Now you need to have been to the right university and have friends with money behind you. Walton castle has been completely restored by the current owner and is for sale for £4.5 million, although I understand that the price is negotiable and if you want to “try it on for size” available for short-term rental. There are not many castles for sale in England at any given time – but this one is interesting if you have bottomless pockets.
Full details at the castle’s website – Walton castle
Nakatso-Jo Castle, Nakatsu, Oita Prefecture, Japan
Current Owner Masayuki Okudaira, placed the castle up for sale recently for the sum of $3 million. This seems like a bargain, but the horrendous cost of maintaining the building means that is not necessarily the case. The city of Nakatsu is deciding whether or not to buy the local tourist attraction, where visitors can also view heirlooms from local governing families of past eras exhibited inside. Originally constructed around 1587, the current five-tiered castle was rebuilt in 1964 after being destroyed by fire in the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion.
Photo courtesy 全国城郭管理者協議会加盟48城 The following photos are a random sample from their fantastic collection. Pay them a visit to see more.
Villa Castiglione, Capri, Italy
Now this is the sort of price I would expect to have to pay for genuine luxury real estate. The Villa Castiglione in Capri is for sale at $38 million. Now we’re talking – eight double bedrooms, five bathrooms with fittings of the finest Italian marble and gold taps, several rooms for entertaining and a rich history including a brief spell as a British naval base during the Napoleonic wars. And unlike its Scottish brethren, you won’t need a small forest of wood to keep the building heated during the winter.
Photos courtesy the agents, Capri Real Estate
Not all castles are fortified, and during the Gothic Revival in architecture, many “castles” were built. These castles had no defensive capabilities, but used elements of earlier castles, such as castellation and towers for purely decorative purposes. These features were personified in the Scottish Baronial style and many of them were country houses. These “mock castles” were particularly common in the UK and Ireland, Belfast Castle and Castle Oliver being two such examples. Famous revival castles in other countries include Neuschwanstein in Germany, Miramare in Italy, and Castillo de Chapultepec in Mexico. The castle in the photograph below is Neuschwanstein in Germany and this photo was voted one of wikipedia’s finest images. Click on the image to see a large version. Beautiful subject and photography.
I think it is fair to include French chateaux as mock castles, and there are a large number of them for sale, varying in size and quality. More importantly though is the condition. Many of the old French castles are in a horrible state of repair. These next few have all been renovated recently.
According to the listing agents, “the castle is tucked away on a property of 25 hectares park with secular trees, rose bushes and shrubs. The outbuildings consist of a beautiful guardian house, guesthouses and conference rooms. Furthermore there are a swimming pool and a tennis court. This imposing property is ideal for a luxurious hotel or large family house.” Price on Application. Agent.
This next one is a 16th century stronghold house that was redesigned and added to in the 18th century. Described as “small,” it has a surface area of 1,722 square feet with a 600+ square foot conservatory. A bargain at 1.1 million Euros.
Agent’s website. Unlike most sites purporting to sell castles, this agent does not have a medieval website to go with the property, which is more than I can say for the last in this series.
This next one is described by the selling agents as a “Four Star Castle-Hotel.” Currently fitted out as a hotel, it is 2400 square meters on 4 levels, sits in 15 hectares of land and there is a “natural mineral gas water production place,” included, which I feel may have been lost in translation. Price – $9 million. Agents site.
Singer Castle (formerly Jorstadt Castle,) Chippewa Bay, St. Lawrence Thousand Island Seaway, New York
Jorstadt Island was designed at the turn of the century by famous Beaux-Arts architect Ernest Flagg as a summer residence and hunting lodge for the president of Singer Sewing Machine Co. and inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s Woodstock Castle. Set amid 7 acres of lush landscaped gardens and terraces, it stands just north of the St. Lawrence Seaway complete with dungeons, turrets, towers, secret passageways, and subterranean labyrinths.
The 28-room, 5-story granite masterpiece has a Chapel with Gothic windows on 3 sides, a paneled library, elegant drawing room loggia, sun room, wine cellar, private offices, 17 bedrooms and 10 baths. The Great Hall boasts massive arched stone pillars, spiral stone stairways with hand-carved balustrades, and one of the castle’s 10 magnificent fireplaces. It was recently renamed “Singer Castle,” and is for sale at $9.5 million.
I am not sure this last one counts as a “mock castle” because it was built recently and looks pretty defensible. I didn’t realise anyone built castles any more, but this company, Castle Magic, apparently still does. This particular castle is in Idaho and according to the builder’s website was “Built in 1999 as a snowy mountain retreat, the two foot thick stone castle walls were built by laying up double walls of split ashlar rock to create a permanent formwork for the hidden steel reinforced concrete core and layers of waterproof insulation. Hydronic floor heat hidden in the stone and hardwood floors throughout the castle keep the interior toasty warm in addition to two stone fireplaces. Stone arched handcrafted walnut windows, stained glass, torches, and hand forged light fixtures. Includes 4-car garage, indoor pool, 3 towers, and real stone & carved hardwoods. You can ski in & out to the chairlifts from the castle.” Luxury real estate indeed Price – $2,632,000.
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