Ireland's economy has been on the skids for years now in the wake of the global financial crisis, in striking contrast to the boom years of the early aughts. That has left even some properly rich, landowning types to try to sell off their august homes to anyone with cash. Investors, too, have been left out in the cold. Take the sprawling Humewood Castle, outside of Dublin, Ireland. This dashing pile of stone, dating from Victorian times, was sold for more than $30M in 2006. Today, the castle and surrounding 427-acre property are listed for barely a third of that amount: $10.4M. That's a huge sum to vanish in just six years, but the fluctuation in value doesn't make this place any less impressive, with meadows, woods, lakes, stables, three staff cottages, and three gatehouses joining the 38,000-square-foot main house. The manor boasts ten reception rooms, twelve bedroom suites, and, according to the Irish Times, a "ballroom, a minstrels' gallery, a fairy-tale tower, enough staff accommodation to house the entire below-stairs cast of Downton Abbey...a butler's pantry, a billiard room, a smoking room, a wine cellar, a gun room, a flower room, a housemaids' delve larder, a plate closet, and separate day and night nurseries."
? Located in Germany, a country that fared far better in the crisis than Ireland, this centuries-old castle lies atop a hill on the banks of the Rhine River. It sits on just 34 wooded acres, but that doesn't keep it from commanding a far-steeper price tag than it's Irish counterpart. The 30-room castle is currently listed for $22M. The property includes more than 5,000 trees, eight apartments for the help, "175-year-old fresco paintings by the same artist who decorated the famous Dome of Cologne," a private chapel, and stunning views of the Rhineland from nearly every room.
? Those looking for "traditional" castle features won't be disappointed by this 17th-century pile in Switzerland. The restored stone sprawler includes a drawbridge and a dungeon, although the latter has been converted into a comfortable three-bedroom guest suite. The historic chapel, gardener's lodge, orangery and dovecote are all intact, and while the facade certainly shows its age, the interiors are impeccably presented. All in all, the castle has a dozen bedrooms, but just four bathrooms, in 15,000 square feet, and is currently listed for just over $18M
? Set high atop a stone plinth, this castle in France's Dordogne Valley doesn't reveal much about its interiors, but the turreted facade is enough to inspire fairy tale fantasies anyway. The nine-bedroom, five-bathroom palace features a swimming pool, a seemingly rare add-on, and nearly 50 acres of land. Listed for $5.8M, the property includes a caretaker's house and numerous other outbuildings.
? The first on this list to be shy about its asking price—which is only available to qualified buyers upon request—is a supremely opulent, fully restored castle in the Italian Dolomites. Owned by a single family for, wait for it, 800 years, the 35,500-square-foot palace includes "16 original Baroque and Rococo tile stoves (perfectly functioning), valuable antique paintings," 80 rooms, and two chapels, plus completely modernized electric and mechanical systems. Of those 80 rooms, 16 are devoted to bedrooms, along with 18 bathrooms, and countless grand entertaining spaces.
· A humble €8m for Humewood Castle [Irish Times]
· Humewood Castle [Christie's]
· Unique Castle on the Rhine [Sotheby's International Realty]
· Historical Castle [Sotheby's International Realty]
· Property, France [Christie's]
· Outstanding Castle in the Dolomites [Sotheby's International Realty]