Posted in Features on July 29, 2008
Have you dreamed of owning a castle? For the price of an average home in the U.S., you can own a piece of history or the whole shebang. Not all castles listed on the market command a fortune. You can find a masseria in Italy, a châteaux in France (or, as you’ll see below, a plot of land on a châteaux property) or a property in Poland for a mere pittance. If you conduct a Web search for castles for sale, you might be pleasantly surprised at the prices you’ll discover.
In Eastern European countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, where many old castles and estates were often turned into agricultural buildings, schools or communal housing, some structures may go for less than $100,000. However, many of these properties do not meet American standards for “ready to move in.” They may lack amenities such as plumbing or sewer or they’ve been neglected to the point where it could cost millions of dollars to restore the property. And, as these properties become more popular, their prices will rise. But, if you’re patient, you’ll discover new properties listed daily at many of these Web sites.
The listings below are filed in price range from the lowest- to highest-priced properties, and they include properties that were discovered online during the second two weeks in July 2008. Therefore, they may not be available when you get around to checking out the properties, but you may find more properties to take their places. Their standing in this list is no reflection on value, as this list is just a list, not an endorsement of any property or real estate broker. In addition, the USD prices listed in parentheses below are an approximate value of a given price listed for a given property, based upon currency exchange values for the week of 14 July 2008.
- A Masseria in Italy
The Lowdown: A masseria is a farm or estate, and many Italian masserias once belonged to royalty. This particular Salento masseria is located in the Puglia (Apulia) countryside. It needs vast restoration for its fortifications, which include cultivated lands and terraces. Once restored, this palace could be breathtaking. The price, which seems ridiculously low, seems to be part of an auction scheme, as the Realtor states no prices on the home site, simply, “Reserved negotiations,” whereas other listings show the 1 EUR price.
Why You Should Want This Castle: Although you may pay more than $1.50 USD for this property, if you have the wherewithal to purchase and renovate this masseria, you then could have a wise investment on your hands. Did we mention that this property is located near Lecce, a city also known as the “Florence of the South,” for its rich Baroque architectural monuments and for its location in southern Italy? Speaking of location (location, location), this property is located in a region in southeastern Italy that borders the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its southern portion is known as “Salento,” a peninsula that forms a high heel on the “boot” of Italy. This is an ideal purchase for anyone who loves the countryside and endless water.
Price:: 1 EUR ($1.58414 USD)
- Italian Castle Living
The Lowdown: Don’t let the ‘Castle on the Lake for rent’ title throw you when you follow this link. This late sixteenth-century castle is for sale. Originally created by Cardinal Morigia, this property contains a terraced park, grand staircases, Renaissance-style statues, a swimming pool, tennis court and panoramic views of a lake. It is currently used as a hotel, complete with antique furniture, marble flooring and wood parquet, frescos, five bedrooms with bathrooms and balconies and more for a grand total of 13,073 square feet. Yet, it needs restoration.
Why You Should Want This Castle: This castle is located in Piedmont Ghiffa, an area in northern Italy. This area is popular with tourists, thanks to adjacent Lake Maggiore and to the famous nearby Sacro Monte, a site of pilgrimage and worship for Christians. So, this steal-of-a-deal hotel could make a great investment property for anyone who wants to host guests. Or, just purchase it for the furniture and flip the hotel unfurnished. On the other hand, this romantic-looking property might just steal your heart. In that case, you might hire an architect to scope out the true state of affairs, as this price seems too good to be true.
Price:: 15,000 EUR ($24,000 USD)
- Auvergne, France Châteaux Lot
The Lowdown: If you don’t have the stomach for heavy-duty renovation, but you might be in the mood to build, perhaps this sweet little plot in France will tickle your fancy. This is a nicely-situated building plot located on the grounds of a nineteenth-century châteaux. You can build up to a 200m2 (2152.7 square feet) villa with two levels and a semi-attic for storage. You will have water, sewage, electricity and phone service, and the boundaries already have been marked off with newly planted hedges.
Why You Should Want This Châteaux Lot: It’s located in Auvergne, folks - smack dab in the middle of France. This region is famous for its cheeses, mineral water exports and Michelin tires. Outside these material items, the buyer has full access to the communal swimming pool, sauna and bar area. So, no need to build anything other than your new home.
Price:: 54,500.00 EUR ($86,466.71 USD)
- Bulgarian Castle
The Lowdown: This lion-splashed property is located in a small and quiet European mountain village at the feet of the Stara Panina and Sredna Gora mountains (Balkan Mountains). But, the castle also is centrally located, as Sopot is about three miles away, Karlovo is about six miles distant to the east and it is 41 miles to the city of Plovdiv to the south, which is the second largest city in Bulgaria after the capital city, Sofia. A river passes near the castle village and the region is suitable for hunting and fishing. An asphalt road leads from the village to the castle, which makes this castle approachable during winter. The house is a three-story building with modern architecture, electricity, running water, sewage-system, etc. The courtyard contains a large area of cultivation that includes trees, flowers and bushes. All this crown home needs is a bit of exterior work, according to the sellers.
Why You Should Want This Castle: If you do some research into the area, you’ll learn that Sopot is famous for its paragliding and handgliding, Karlovo is filled with history and roses (literally - this is large-scale rose production, including their famous rose oil), and Plovidv is an important economic, transport, cultural and educational center. All this comes together to provide you with an opportunity to appeal to a wide variety of tourists as you rent out your castle to visitors. Or, if you decide to live here yourself, you can enjoy one of the most ‘ready-to-move-in’ properties on this list.
Price:: 55,000 EUR ($87,125.77 USD)
- Costa Rican Castle
The Lowdown: Before you pass judgement on this ‘castle’ (it is listed as such), look at the price and the amenities first. This property is conveniently located in the Nicoya Península in Costa Rica, with good access and ample public road frontage. It is close to Carrillo and Sámara beaches, and it has awesome panoramic views to scenic valleys. There are three rivers, two are small and one is big, on 481 acres. And, it comes with water and electricity.
Why You Should Want This Castle: Although this castle doesn’t come with turrets, it is located in the Guanacaste region, known for sportsfishing, heavenly beaches, bird watching, horseback riding, excellent surfing, superb snorkeling and truly amazing and breathtaking scenery. The eastern border of Guanacaste is formed by a chain of volcanoes. They offer great hiking and views of the surrounding countryside. Dense and lush forests fill the valleys, and many endangered animals and birds reside here, including jaguars and tapirs. If you’re a nature enthusiast, you could lose yourself in this kingdom.
Price:: $100,000 USD
- Southern Slovakian Castle
The Lowdown: If you’d like four bastions on your castle as well as 35 bedrooms, then this gem - located in the Casoviapolis region of Slovakia in eastern Europe - might be yours. The rooms which were used as classrooms for a primary school during the last half of the twentieth century. The property carries a large park in front with a small pond, and it also is in reach of all the amenities that Trnava has to offer. The history within this town dates back to 1211, if not earlier. After the establishment of Slovakia in 1993, Trnava became the capital of the newly created Trnava Region in 1996. Any person who chooses to purchase this castle also will enjoy access to universities, libraries, theaters, a district hospital and other modern amenities against an historical backdrop.
Why You Should Want This Castle: This structure is large enough to house a single family as well as a few guests. Make it work as a honeymoon retreat, complete with a history that would suit the setting. The first written document about this castle was generated in 1583, when the Croatian nobel, Ungnada, invited other nobles to this residence for his daughter’s wedding. Although this castle has seen numerous renovations since that event, this castle’s Renaissance/Baroque stylings can capture the imagination of any newly-wedded couple. For the price listed below, how could you go wrong?
Price:: 107,000 EUR ($169,711.46 USD)
- XVI-Century Palace in Lower Silesia
The Lowdown: If your style is Baroque built with brick and stone, then this palace from the XVI century (1570) might tickle your historic decorating bone. Located in the Boleslawiec area of Poland (home of Boleslawiec Pottery), this building contains a strong foundation, an asphalt access road, electricity, sewer and water. Telephone lines, Internet access and a full basement makes this private property an absolute steal.
Why You Should Want This Castle: While the property needs renovation, there’s a place for parking and the opportunity to purchase adjoining land. Along with all the amenities listed above, this building easily could be made into a tourist hotel for pottery fanatics. Much of the pottery made in this region is of high-quality, handpainted stoneware. In 1898, the German government established the Keramische Fachschule (Ceramic Technical Training School) to foster development of the art. The added plus is this castle’s terrace with mountain views.
Price:: 125,000 EUR ($198,242.18 USD)
- 19th Century Castle For Sale in Hungary
The Lowdown: This European castle, built in the classicist style, is a gem in the rough. It is located in Kercseliget, Hungary, near the city of Kaposvar (the capital of the county of Somogy) and about thirty-one miles from the Balaton, one of the largest lakes in Europe and often called the “Hungarian Sea.” A water quality survey has been conducted on this property, and the water is spa-quality, the same as two other spas located nearby.
Why You Should Want This Castle: Although this structure was built about 1840, the foundation is strong. Additionally, preliminary construction has begun to convert this building, which has a wine cellar, into a tourist facility. The spa waters add to the possibility that this castle could earn its keep, especially with its close proximity to Kaposvar and to the popular tourist destination of Lake Balaton.
Price:: 150,000 EUR ($237,969.23 USD) (Negotiable)
- An Irish Abode
The Lowdown: The top write-up in this link is the one of interest, as it offers the Brackloon Castle Clonfert, County Galway for sale. Clonfert and its castle is part of the ancestral home of the Maddens and forms a stage of the Beara-Breifne Greenway which is based on the historic march of O’Sullivan Beara in 1603. Attacked many times and captured by Queen Mary’s forces during the sixteenth century, this castle was inhabited until the 1950s. At that time, teachers from the nearby Clonfert School were its inhabitants. They enjoyed four floors connected by a spiral stone staircase that, contrary to popular construction, spirals counterclockwise. The castle is now missing its upper floors and it is roofless, but the main structure appears sound and able to withstand restoration.
Why You Should Want This Castle: If an Irish soul is reading this (especially a Madden), need I say more? But, just to entice you even further, the tower house of this castle is located on 8.5 acres overlooking a stream with opportunities for fishing. Plus, the owner can look for further entertainment on the Shannon, which is fit for sailing and cruising. This castle is situated close to the village of Clonfert, a tiny village in South Galway bordering County Offaly. This village is well known for Saint Brendan’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, the oldest living church in Ireland with an unbroken history of public worship.
Price:: £120,000 ($239,605.18 USD)
- Fortified Castle and Jesuit Estate
The Lowdown: If you want a safe place to reside in the South American countryside, then you might find this fortified castle and 1790 Jesuit estate in Uruguay appropriate. The property is located on a 148-acre ranch in north Uruguayan hill country. Although the land around this area is traditionally known for sheep and cattle breeding, much of the area is being converted to forest. This may be the oldest castle for sale in Uruguay, as it dates back to Spanish colonial era, founded by Jesuits, and later used as a Spanish royal mail stage post.
Why You Should Want This Castle: While the amenities are limited, many parts of this building are the original 1790s construction, including the entranceway. The property contains a quarters for staff, a barn and a workshop. You’ll own cattle installations along with a fieldstone corral. While you may not want to own cattle, these structures possibly could be used for horses. The property is located about 249 miles from Montevideo, which is the largest city, the capital and chief port of Uruguay. A big plus - most of that road is paved! The only problem, really, to acquiring this simple yet beautiful abode is the price. You may need to haggle down $10,000 USD to meet the the $250,000 mark, but this one was just too good to leave off the list!
Price:: $260,000 USD
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