How to Live Like Royalty in Four European Countries
Castles were built to stand the test of time, and many have, beautifully. Drive through the European countryside, though, and you’ll find that those palaces’ surroundings—their parks, their hunting forests, their lavish gardens—have fared less well. Chalk it up to the gradual, inexorable urban sprawl that’s plagued much of Western Europe, the changing fortunes of many of the buildings’ owners, and the fact that even the most dyed-in-the-wool landed gentry aren’t always thrilled to maintain thousand-acre agricultural tracts. Even city castles have seen their lands hemmed, their once grand formal gardens turned into glassy new condominiums.
Which makes castles—and their more urban cousin, villas—that have managed to keep their attendant land (slightly diminished as even the greatest might be) that much more special. If you have the cash (historic home ownership is not for the faint of heart or slight of bank account), and the siren song of living like a lord is undeniable, consider becoming a land baron with these four properties.
Hunting Estate in Ireland, $30.25 Million
- Size: 16,379 square feet
- Price per sq. ft.: $1,847
- Acres: 5,000
- Bedrooms: 27
- Bathrooms: 18
“Luggala,” an 18th century “gothick” hunting lodge that overlooks a lake in the Irish wilds, isn’t exactly a hidden gem. Long a home for heirs to the Guinness beer fortune (other historic spots of theirs have become spectacular luxury hotels), the castle, which is tucked into valley, boasts battlements, crenellations, and quatrefoil windows and was featured in numerous glossy home-design books. It’s an easy hour’s drive southwest of Dublin.
The main house has three major reception rooms, along with seven bedrooms. Another four bedrooms can be found in the main guest lodge, and 16 more are spread across seven cottages dotted around the estate—5,000 acres meant to be explored—where dense, native Irish oak woods and grassy, rocky hillocks play host to skittering herds of deer. For those who prefer a tamer version of nature, the property also has 18th century landscape gardens.
Vineyard Estate in Siena, Italy, $13.5 Million
- Size: 46,123 square feet
- Price per sq. ft.: $293
- Acres: 247.1
- Bedrooms: 18
- Bathrooms: 12
This massive 18th century villa, which itself measures almost 22,000 square feet, is at the center of a large agricultural estate in the heart of Chianti Classico wine country. There are nearly 10 acres of olive groves and almost 20 acres of vineyards, plus spacious cellars carved underground in which to age the spoils. In the house, aspiring wine barons can descend a grand double staircase under ornate, hand-tooled ceilings or wander into its capacious wine cellars.
The estate also contains a tennis court, pool, chapel, lavish formal gardens, and numerous outbuildings for staff and workers. From main house's hilltop perch amid the cypress are commanding views of all that its (future) owners will possess.
17th-Century Mallorca Estate, $9.1 Million
- Size: 19,375 square feet
- Price per sq. ft.: $473
- Acres: 116
- Bedrooms: 12
- Bathrooms: 6
Built in 1626, this large, traditional Mallorcan home is situated at the top of a valley, with views of both the island’s mountains and sea. The home is surrounded by covered terraces, courtyards, and flowering plants. The property—which is situated on the western side of the island in a less-touristed, more mountainous area—includes terraced gardens, rolling hills, and numerous outbuildings, including horse paddocks, a guest house, and a cold storage depot.
The property has an antique olive press, a private chapel, and a total of two kitchens, three living rooms, and two dining rooms. There’s also a tennis court, pool, and, most charmingly, a grove of carob trees. It's gracious island living, albeit fully off the beaten path.
City Palace in Lisbon, $8.07 million
- Size: 10,743 square feet
- Price per sq. ft.: $751
- Acres: 3.5
- Bedrooms: 7
- Bathrooms: 8
Located in the Lumiar neighborhood, about a 15-minute’s drive north from central Lisbon, this 17th-century walled palace is thought to have been the residence of Portugal’s King John V. (This is based on versions of his crest, which are worked into the architecture, rather than anything more concrete.)
Although the property’s 3.5-acre footprint is relatively small, the palace’s grand formal gardens are intact. Inside, 13 rooms, spread over two floors and an attic, include lavish detailing: There are wall and ceiling murals, brightly painted tiles, intricate parquet, and grand, coffered ceilings. It might not be the rolling countryside, but as far as city palaces go—located in one of the world’s rising destinations—it’s hard to beat.