Where to find your own fairytale castle
is evidence that the younger generation is favouring classic historic homes over more modern property. They’re attracted by the good value, the better construction methods, the character and the sense of stability.”
A recent report by Pantera, the property agency, found that 26 per cent of Germans under 30 would like to live in a castle. “Many buyers are also looking for better places to invest their money these days, and historic property keeps its value. In Germany, you can also write off the cost of renovations of a historic home against income tax for 10 years,” says von Schenck.
In addition to Castle Silberer, Engel & Völkers is currently listing a six-bedroom, baroque-style “minipalace” in Salzkammergut, Austria, dating to 1899. It has a fabulous and ornate entrance, lovely period décor and, though extended, is of a manageable size, though the price tag won’t be manageable for everyone at €5million.
A 90-minute drive from Berlin sits Schloss Bärenklau, considered to be one of the youngest palaces in Brandenburg with a date of 1928. The neoclassical mansion, priced at €3.9million, has everything you’d expect of a palace, from stone columns to a grand staircase, huge fireplaces, vaulted ceilings and a park of four hectares.
Many historic properties aren’t widely marketed, so it’s worth checking out portals such as LuxuryEstate for available castles and palaces across Europe. It lists a large number in both Austria and Germany, including a baroque castle with moat in Austria at €2.4million and a renovated 13th-century German castle in the Ruhr area for €790,000.
The most popular historic properties are neoclassical in style and date to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Homes with a park or shooting estate within 90 minutes of a main city such as Munich or Frankfurt command high prices, although better value can be found in more rural areas of eastern Germany, where von Schenck says it’s possible to buy a country estate for less than €1million.
He also claims Austrian property is more popular with both local and international investors. “Austria has the advantage of being a holiday destination, and is popular with buyers from across Europe, America, Russia. This keeps prices higher, especially in areas close to ski destinations.”
The highest demand for castles and sprawling, ornate mansions in Austria is in Vienna, where some of the grandest residences were built in the late 1800s. “There is a long tradition of building palaces in Austria,” says Susanne Thomanek, Sotheby’s local agent. “This is partly because the industrialists of the time weren’t aristocracy, so used lavish homes as an entry to society.”
Prices for the most expensive Viennese property have peaked for the past few years at €1,860 per sq ft, but it is now almost impossible to find a complete palace available for purchase. Most of those in Vienna’s First District, overlooking the famous Ringstrasse, have been split into apartments that are popular with international buyers who love the space, classically ornate features and central location.
Sotheby’s International Real Estate has several incredible apartments in historic Viennese palaces for sale, including a two-storey renovated gem with fabulous views and period features, a snip at €35.26million. By contrast, the agency’s German office is currently listing an extraordinary medieval castle complex with 23 bedrooms, a ruined tower and chapel in 2.4 acres near Wiesbaden, in the Rhine Valley, for €2.9million.
Thomanek says buyers need to be aware of the commitment involved in owning a historic home, and that the upkeep – let alone the restoration of these often-crumbling palaces – can be around €93 to €186 per sq ft. “Buyers are keen to have something authentic but owners of old buildings have a big responsibility,” she says. “They’re buying history.”
Main, a castle near Wiesbaden, €3.9m, with Sotheby’s International Real Estate