The bohemian life of royalties and noblemen, with their lavish estates and castles, lakes and stables, hunting grounds and towers. It can all be yours. With the right amount of cash of course. Who doesn't dream of moving into a French chateau, the place where the world's greatest romances and love stories sprung from? You should know that the French “chateau” has a broader meaning than the English word “castle.” It describes massive architectural entities that would normally be called palaces in English. Just like “la vie du chateau,” a term the French associate with living large.
Luxury real estate is not all about penthouses with rooftop terraces in the city center, or palatial mansions with tennis courts and swimming pools. If you want to live like a king, buy a castle. Not only will it offer an elegant classic architecture, spacious rooms, cellars, dungeons and towers you can easily convert into drawing rooms, offices, or libraries, but just think of those history filled walls that have been touched by the very hands of the world's most influential personalities.
Castles are a great investment. There are many on sale throughout Europe, from medieval ones to Grade I historical sites. There are however a limited number of castles and palaces in the world, and their value will only grow in time. Let's take for example the White House. If it were to hit the market, it would have a price tag of around $320 million. If the Buckingham Place ever went up for sale, it would have a $1.5 billion price tag attached to it. It's highly unlikely they will ever go up for sale, but there are many other castles out there, just as famous and boasting a great cultural and historic heritage that are just waiting to shake hands with their new owners. Straight out of a fairy tale, you can move into these castles today.
10 Westenhanger Castle in England: $4.3 Million
Towers, still standing old castle walls, and landscaped inner court that is often used as a wedding venue. What more can you ask for? The history of the state dates back to the 11th century, but the castle and tower were built around the 14th century. In the 16th century, the castle was sold to King Henry VIII, who actually used the castle as residence when visiting southern England, and it is said that he brought his mistresses here. Elizabeth I used the castle herself, hosting numerous banquets as well. It remained a royal palace until 1581. In time, it became nothing more than a ruin.
Luckily, its current owners, the Forge family, restored the place to its original glory. It took them 16 years to save Westenhanger from its doom. One of the greatest historic buildings in Kent, England, listed as a Grade I Heritage site, the castle has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, three reception rooms, and a replica medieval kitchen. Unfortunately, there are significant maintenance costs to consider that can run up to $167,000 a year. On the other hand, the manor is a money maker thanks to its gorgeous 14 acre wedding venue.
9 Chateau de Corbere in France: $8.8 Million
Perfect for a couple, a large family, to be turned into a conference center or a boutique hotel, Chateau de Corbere in Cannes, France lies 36 miles from the Mediterranean coast, just outside of Perpignan. The estate's 25 acres of land comes with four extensive terraces, sunken Italian gardens, and outdoor heated pool that offers gorgeous sea and valley panoramic views. Fully renovated to the highest standards of luxury living, this 11th century hilltop chateau-fort in the sunniest part of France boasts wrought iron gates for absolute privacy, Romanesque arched windows, eight bedrooms, eight full bathrooms, three separate studios, grand salon, two dining rooms, two studies, cinema, library, and three dungeons that have been converted into reception rooms summing up over 7,000 square feet of living space.
8 Tulira Castle in Ireland: $8.9 Million
They say it is the only castle in Ireland that has never been invaded, attacked, or ransacked throughout its existence. The estate in Ardrahan, Galway County in Ireland with medieval tower and Victorian castle sitting on 250 acres of land hit the market in October 2013 and immediately made the headlines. With rolling green gardens and an ornamental lake, it is one of Ireland's most famous castles, with a great historical load, mainly due to its architectural and cultural heritage. Everything rests on 12th century foundations, but it presents itself in immaculate condition after undergoing a major restoration process that lasted 20 years. The tower is believed to have been built sometime in the 15th or 16th century. There are seven bedrooms, four reception rooms, seven bathrooms, a chapel, and banqueting hall, all with original stained glass panels. That's not all. For $8.9 million, you'll have stables that can accommodate up to 22 horses, three outbuildings for staff, and even a medieval feasting hall with Irish marble columns.
7 Il Castello Baronale in Italy: $11.6 Million
Numerous famous personalities walked through its doors, the most noteworthy of them all being Cardinal Barberini, nephew of Pope Urban VII, who purchased the castle in 1641. Located in Rieti, Italy, just outside of Rome, Il Castello Baronale dates from the 12th century. Nowadays, its numerous historic features are complemented by over-the-top luxury amenities. There are 11 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, grand ballroom, reception rooms, gardens, tennis court, heated swimming pool, and separate quarters for domestic staff. A valuable piece of Italian history, there's even a historical unrestored 10th century fort surrounding the castle, and a lovely tavernetta with medieval oven. In 1988, the castle went under major renovations to restore it to its original glamor.
6 Chateau Aix en Provence: $18 Million
Built between the 13th and 17th centuries, this medieval castle comes with 170 hectares of land, which include vineyards and woodlands. The French chateau offers 3,300 square feet of living space, but all buildings on the property sum up nearly 10,000 square feet. There are a total of 30 spacious rooms, with a dramatic entrance to the castle as visitors climb up the stone staircase dating from 1660. The castle is isolated from other structures on the property, such as staff quarters, cellar, and tasting room. The landscaped courtyard leads to an Italian garden and park, all in the vicinity of Aix en Provence. Its large vineyard produces between 150,000 and 200,000 bottles of wine each year, aged in French oak barrels.
5 Burg Rheineck in Germany: $23.3 Million
Perched on a hillside in the heart of Germany, overlooking the legendary Rhine Valley and Bad Breisig, famous for its thermal springs, Burg Rheineck is set in a fenced-in forest, surrounded by more than 500 trees for complete privacy. The 1,000-year-old medieval castle boasts a total of 30 rooms, with 10 bedrooms and nine full bathrooms, a four-car garage, library, indoor pool, media room, wine cellar, private pub with vaulted cellars, state-of-the-art home theater and a chapel with vaulted ceilings and two-century-old frescoes, summing up over 2,000 square feet of living space. Over the course of the past 30 years, the castle has been fully renovated and refurbished, fitting the finest luxury amenities. Sitting on 32 acres of land, there are even a tennis court and helipad.
4 Montbrun Castle in France: $27.6 Million
This enormous and luxurious castle in France, surrounded by lakes and oak and chestnut forests, caught the attention of Brad Pitt, who declared he was interested in buying the property, but Angelina wanted a place closer to the sea. Too bad. Built in 1179 and expanded during the 15th century, Montbrun Castle is an excellent example of medieval fortifications, with four towers and large courtyard. It is actually one of only four castles in France from that epoque, with a great historical value, as it is closely tied to King Richard the Lionhearted and the Crusades.
In the heart of France, in a region called Haute-Vienne, 500 acres of land with several houses, staff quarters, stables, and even a tavern, with four private lakes, a river, and water wells are home to a $27.6 million castle, completely renovated to fit the highest standard of living, with great hall, chapel, office rooms, music rooms, master bedroom, family bedrooms, 15 guestrooms, two dining rooms, living salon, cinema room with vaulted ceiling, library, billiard room, jacuzzi, sauna, and two elevators, all summing up 37,674 square feet of living space.
3 Kinpurnie Castle in Scotland: $48.5 Million
The most valuable estate in Scotland was put up on the market by the Cayzers, a wealthy shipping dynasty. With a castle, holiday cottages, six privately owned lochs, and thousands of acres of farmland, are you sure you can handle it? The ring fenced estate offers privacy and seclusion in its two main properties, the Kinpurnie Castle, a Scots baronial style built castle dating from 1907, and the Thriepley House, a lovely manor with beautiful Italianate/Moorish gardens. There are also eight luxury holiday cottages that can be rented out. The 5,400 acre estate in Angus, Scotland offers sporting opportunities as well, like doe deer stalking and driven pheasant shooting, all in its privately owned woodlands.
2 Chateau de Cornod: $73 Million
Surrounded by the spectacular Jura Mountains, in a sunny setting in Dole, Franche-Comte, this quintessential French chateau has it all, from history to glamorous galleries, plenty of living space, gardens, and equestrian facilities. Sitting on 200 acres of land, plus 125 acres of woodland, boasting an impressive 75,320 square feet floor size, there are a total of 34 bedrooms on five floors, exquisitely renovated by the finest artisans and craftsmen over the past six years. The square tower features a billiard room on the first floor, a smoking room, and two bedrooms with bathrooms. The entrance hall with a monumental Gothic staircase leads to a series of drawing rooms and gallery, cloak room, dining room, and conservatory. Built between the 14th and 19th centuries and listed as a Grade I Historic Monument, the castle is a 45 minute drive from Geneva.
1 Bran Castle in Romania: $140 Million
We know it as the Castle of Dracula, but it actually goes by the name of Bran Castle. In the heart of Transylvania in Romania, it is the of setting Bram Stoker's Dracula. The world's most famous vampire, Dracula was inspired by Vlad the Impaler, the ruler of Transylvania in the 15th century. Ironically, Vlad the Impaler did not live in the Bran Castle. He merely visited it once or twice in his life. Still, the edifice continues to attract thousands of visitors and thrill seekers in search of evidence to his existence.
Aside from being bathed in legends and myths of Dracula and vampires, the castle has a great historical value. Built in 1212, the castle sits on 20 acres of land. There are a total of 57 rooms, with 17 bedrooms. It served as a fortress to protect against Ottoman invasions, and later as the residence of the Romanian Royal Family from 1920 up until 1948, when the communists confiscated the estate. It was fully restored in the late 1980's. The rooms and towers enclose an inner courtyard. Other rooms are connected by underground passages. Perched on a rocky cliff, some 200 feet above the valley, the current owner is Dominic von Hapsburg. For $140 million, the castle comes with valuable furniture and art objects dating from between the 14th and 19th centuries, plus seven acres of forests and two smaller adjacent buildings.