A CASTLE TO CALL HOME
Apartment prices in Manhattan have soared, reaching a median of $1.15 million in the April-June quarter, with increased sales of high-end real estate driving up prices 18 percent compared with the same period a year ago. The median price per square foot was $1,453, nearly 12 times the median cost of a newly built U.S. home. For that kind of money, buyers could literally purchase a castle. Across Europe and the world, architecturally magnificent and historically significant castles are on the market for private purchase. Many come with price tags that are shockingly similar to those of luxury apartments in New York City. Here are 10 of the most over-the-top.
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GREAT LOCATION, NEAR AIRPORT, PREVIOUSLY OWNED BY LORDS OF MILAN: $17M
Snuggle up in a cozy, 70-bedroom castle in the Como province of Italy that has history dating back to 1149. Complete with observation towers and a drawbridge, the three-story stone castle has a helicopter launch pad, its own 4-star hotel, 50 parking spaces, and a banquet hall that holds 120 people. The keys to the castle, which sits on about 17 acres of land, cost a hair under $17 million, less than the $17.75 million asking price for an apartment at 135 E. 79th St. on New York's Upper East Side.
21,527-SQUARE-FOOT VILLA IN ITALY'S WINE COUNTRY: $10.6M
Perched on a Florence hilltop looking out over the hills and vineyards of Chianti, this castle was built in the 14th century. It was redesigned in the 1800s, when a courtyard was installed to unite two separate structures. Adorned with turrets, magnificent fireplaces, a tennis court, a swimming pool, antique terra cotta floors, frescoes, and painted coffered ceilings, the castle boasts 12 bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom. A small woodland with olive trees sits on the 30-acre grounds. Or you could take your $10.64 million and buy an apartment at the Laureate, 2150 Broadway, which will run you almost exactly the same price.
MULTI-CASTLE ESTATE ON SECLUDED BEACH: $6M
Two living rooms with wood-burning fireplaces and a 10-person dining room are among the amenities a buyer will enjoy in this South African castle on the Indian Ocean coast. All bedroom suites have private terraces and bathrooms with walk-in closets and heated marble floors. Also included are the private and romantic Honeymoon Castle, adjacent to the main castle, and the Cliff Castle, which offers panoramic views of the cliff-side beach. Take a dip in the heated rim-flow pool or relax in the thatched gazebo on the rocks. All this for a cool $6 million -- just enough to get in on the low end of New York's Lucida, at 151 E. 85th St., where apartments range from $5.98 million to $9.75 million.
PRICE REDUCED ON THIS CHARMING 1630S DEFENSIVE FORTRESS: $6.7M
In a quaint and secluded village in northwestern Slovakia sits Trebostovo Castle, one of the most historically significant landmarks in the region. The purchaser actually gets a group of buildings, the surrounding land, and a forest. The renaissance manor is built in a U-shape with four towers. The castle was designed for defense, with a drawbridge, bastions, embrasures, and a moat. It has four floors, three of which are above ground. All three wings are covered with a saddleback roof. The total package runs about $6.7 million, which is enough to get into a high-end apartment at Trump Park Avenue, 502 Park Avenue, where units range from $1.56 million to just under $7 million.
MANSION IN MOROCCO: $11.2M
Imagine owning a Moroccan castle that has been reimagined as a luxury spa. All 20 of the bedrooms, four of which are luxurious tents, are suites decorated in a blend of traditional Moroccan architecture and contemporary flair. Several rooms offer gorgeous views of the Atlas Mountains that can be enjoyed from private terraces. Secluded, with restrictions on nearby construction, the castle is surrounded by olive groves. Its $11.2 million price tag is nearly the same as the most expensive unit at 10 Madison Square West in Chelsea: $10.995 million.
SPANISH STARTER CASTLE WITH MOUNTAIN, SEA VIEWS: $11.2M
Built 22 years before Columbus set sail for the New World, this medieval castle was completely renovated in the 1990s. Situated in Catalonia, near Barcelona, this Spanish landmark comes with a solarium, mosaic floors, and views of both the mountains and the sea. With nine bedrooms and five bathrooms, the 21,527-square-foot castle can be yours for $11.2 million. That's just under the $11.45 million price tag on the most expensive apartments at 456 W. 19th St. in New York.
LIVE LIKE MEDIEVAL NOBILITY IN THE POLISH COUNTRYSIDE: $5M
Once the home of the noble family of Tarnowski, this castle in the Świętokrzyskie region of Poland is surrounded by 300-year-old oak trees on the outskirts of Ostrowiec. With 30 bedrooms, it can comfortably sleep 68. It features a restaurant in the castle's historic cellar, a hunting lodge, and an outdoor cinema. The asking price is $5.04 million, nearly identical to the cost of the priciest apartments at 3 Lincoln Center on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
COMFORTABLE 16TH-CENTURY CHATEAU NEAR PRAGUE: $5M
Just 43 miles from Prague, this castle traces its roots to the 16th century. Until recently, it was a 4-star luxury wellness hotel. It has 20 bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a spa, a bar, and two restaurants. Renovated in 2000, it is in excellent condition, which is unusual for buildings of its age in the Czech Republic. Secondary buildings include a baroque chapel and a beauty farm. The property costs $5.04 million, which is enough to get comfortably into an entry-level condo at One Madison, 23 E. 22nd St. in Chelsea.
SETTLE INTO THIS TUSCAN TREASURE FROM THE MIDDLE AGES: $2.8M
Situated on more than 12 acres, this castle in the Crete Hills of Siena, in Italy's Tuscany region, dates back to the 12th century. It was updated in the 15th and 16th centuries, and it comes with secondary buildings including a multifamily farmhouse, five farm outbuildings, a stone shed, and a 16th-century chapel. Topping it off is a lookout tower that dates to the castle's creation. The property costs about $2.8 million, which is enough for an apartment at the low end in the Centurion at 33 W. 56th St., where units start at $2.2 million and go up to $39 million.
MORAVIAN CHATEAU IN FRENCH BAROQUE STYLE: $4M
The buyer of this historic castle in Moravia has the option to buy the adjoining stud farm, which has produced steeplechase winners and flat-racing champions. Designed in the late French Baroque style, the castle has 50 rooms, including halls, offices, and historical rooms. Electricity, an elevator, and a pool were part of massive renovations that took place just before World War II. The third floor contains 13 en-suite apartments. The second is home to a wedding chapel and grand reception rooms. The $4 million price tag is enough to get into the cheapest apartment at One Lincoln Square, 150 Columbus Avenue -- with $50,000 to spare.