Growing Trend — Castles for Sale

By William Pherrel

Well, now things are getting increasingly interesting. I have mentioned in my earlier posts that there is a rising trend in the purchase of noble titles, now there seems to be a rising trend in the sale and purchase of castles!!

There are only a small number of castles for sale in the UK per year and a number of castles in Scotland have come on the market in recent years. On continental Europe, castles in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, the Ukraine and the Czech Republic have come onto the market, at least as far as I have discovered so far.

Perhaps one of the most famous purchases in recent months has been that of a three year lease for the French castle Chateau Miraval by Angelia Jolie and Brad Pitt, near the tiny village of Brignol in southern France. Actually, it is more of a mansion than a castle, but whatever the case may be, the price tag matched the property — $ 60 million with 1,000 acres!! The castle itself has over 35 rooms, billiards rooms, an indoor pool, gyms, sauna and jacuzzi and a marvelous banquet hall. Of particular interest is a recording studio installed by one of the previous owners, Jacques Loussier, which has been used for recordings by Sting, The Cranberries and Pink Floyd, to name a few. The estate is surrounded by gardens and a moat and includes even a fountain and a chapel. A vineyard modernized in 1993, an olive grove (with 13 different types of olives) and a mixed forest of evergreen and oak add to a very private and secluded atmosphere, all set back three miles from the main road.

Owning a castle is of course, not something for just anyone. Alone the heating costs and potentially problematic electrical and plumbing, are sources of constant maintenance. The upkeep of the grounds and outer facades of the buildings themselves is also a substantially high cost factor. Some privately owned castles are partially open to the public and therefore require a certain amount more maintenance, including the provision of public toilets and/or souvenir shop. Generally however, the larger privately owned castles are located away from touristy districts and are not open to the public.

There is a surprising number of castle types to choose from. Beginning with ancient several hundred year-old defensive castles and ending with brand new turreted castles complete with swimming pool and other luxurious installations. Depending on the location and age of the castle, the prices can begin with as little as a mere dollar for complete ruins (albeit with the requirement to renovate and/or to keep up the grounds for tourism purposes), or perhaps $ 1 million for a relatively small but renovated castle, up to the above mentioned $ 60 million and even more. The price also depends on the amount of property belonging to the castle and its prior owners, usually of some kind of royal descent.

Of course, the definition for “castle” has been altered over time. In the Middle Ages, a castle was designed to defend the noble families residing in them and were fortified with a protective outer wall surrounding the complex. However, as in the case of Pitt’s and Jolie’s Chateau Miraval, this is far less a castle and would be strictly defined as a stately home or mansion once belonging to a noble family of the French court. The modern castles of today include a broad spectrum of ornately designed homes to larger complexes, housing hotels and/or restaurants.

Whatever the case may be, the purchasing of castles will become most certainly a growing lucrative opportunity for their owners, as the continuously rising upkeep costs prevent them from investing badly needed funds in a cause that may be only historical in nature. Another factor – those castles in Eastern Europe could become more interesting, as many of their owners are unable to afford any kind of upkeep and are looking for rich dollar-owning individuals seeking investment opportunities or quite simply, a very secluded spot to rear their children.