In the world of luxury real estate, perhaps no category of residence invites as much fantasy as the castle. Germany, England, Spain and, most notably, France, offer high concentrations of these historic buildings, where bedrooms number in the dozens and amenities include moats, towers and turrets.
The US has its share of palatial counterparts, even if they lack 900-year-old masonry, says Elizabeth Corbin Murphy of Chambers, Murphy & Burge, a firm of restoration architects in Akron, Ohio. “The estates of Newport, Rhode Island, are wonderful,” she says, “but you can have a castle in any city depending on its culture and context.”
Becoming king or queen of one’s castle outside the States can be surprisingly affordable. While fully restored palaces close to major centres like Paris, Geneva or London can exceed $30 million, others are on a par with two-bedroom flats in those same cities, says Alexander V G Kraft, chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty France. “Prices can start at $700,000, or even below for smaller, rural castles in need of some updating.”
In areas with low labour costs and local tax incentives, buying such a property can be an attractive proposition. Still, owning a castle should be understood less as an investment than as a passion project. This kind of property requires “deep pockets and patience,” Kraft explains, and owners who approach restoration with respect and balance. “There’s nothing wrong with making a castle your home,” says Murphy, but buyers should understand that the reward of ownership is “being able to soak up the legacy of the families who invested in the property.” Kraft, the owner of a restored 19th-century hunting chateau in Provence, understands the benefits firsthand. “One gets to live in an unusual, beautiful environment and become the guardian of a piece of history,” he says. “How many people can say that, even among the world’s elite?”
New York-based writer Iyna Bort Caruso has contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday and others.
This commanding 18th-century castle has been fully restored, yet retains its historic grandeur. The exceptional domain is comprised of 1,112 acres, including a 15th-century manor house, an exquisite French garden, orchards, meadows and lakes.
€7,350,000 Property ID: VQC2TD
Sotheby’s International Realty
Hugues Simon +33 (0)6 63 93 71 23
A former royal possession passed to the House of Uzès by Philippe IV le Bel in 1281, this magnificent historic chateau, wonderfully restored and perfectly maintained, demonstrates the power of the families who lived there. Built in a commanding position on the edge of a village, it is set around a square dungeon and counts four towers connected by a walled walk.
Price Upon Request Property ID: MQXCEZ
Uzès Sotheby’s International Realty
Grâce Fernandes + 33 (0)4 66 03 10 03
Fogelvik Castle was once the home of Carl Knutsson Bonde, Sweden’s reigning king on three different occasions in the 1400s, and was passed down through his heirs. In 1995, the current owners restored the castle and grounds to their former grandeur. This majestic residence offers a wonderful oval dining room that opens out to the terrace facing the sea and features a six-metre-high ceiling and wall paintings by local artist J B Masreleiz. Its adjoining two lounges, display room and library make it a perfect environment for entertaining.
KR35,000,000 Property ID: 4SHVHX
Sweden Sotheby’s International Realty
Helena Karnsund +46 739 82 80 87
Goran Heimer +46 739 82 80 27
North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Schloss Hüffe is a moated castle built between 1775 and 1784. Impressive and well-preserved, the castle offers a living space of 1,500 square metres, including a main building with east and west wings, a manor house, an orangery, old stables, a baronial house and a private cemetery on an island.
€6,400,000 Property ID: N463ZL
Cologne Sotheby’s International Realty
Tobias Schulze +49 221 99 77 350
Newport, Rhode Island
Known as Seafair, this Louis XIV-inspired chateau was designed with a crescent shape to complement the curve of the peninsula on which it sits and enjoy 270-degree ocean views. The iconic estate has undergone a complete restoration and renovation. A raised sea wall wraps around the entire property, adding to its commanding presence while guarding the luxurious grounds from storms.
$17,500,000 Property ID: EH87XV
Gustave White Sotheby’s International Realty
David Huberman +1 401 848 6729
Offered for sale freehold for the first time in nearly 300 years, this extraordinary castle was originally built by William Adamson in 1542. Set over three stories, the property includes a stunning round tower that features exceptional views and attractive, stone-built two-storey stables. Its more than four acres of grounds contain landscaped gardens, a small area of mature woodland and an original walled garden.
€6,000,000 Property ID: 27R9FM
United Kingdom Sotheby’s International Realty
Hamilton Lee and Cheryl Prime +44 (0) 1932 860 537