Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Octoberfest: Castles in Germany

Oktoberfestby Gael Stirler
Have you ever dreamt of celebrating Octoberfest or Christmas in Germany in a Medieval castle? It may be more affordable than you thought. Though Octoberfest is over for 2005 (it runs from mid September through the first weekend in October) it's not too soon to start planning for next year. There are many castles in Germany that have been converted to excellent boutique hotels and the prices are the same or lower than the chain hotels. If you have ever considered owning your own castle you could spend some time shopping for one while you are on vacation. You will be surprised at what you can find.

Castle Schwalenberg
At Castle Schwalenberg you can enjoy a 3-night stay in a private room with a bath including breakfast buffet, two regular dinners, and one Knight's Feast for only $260 per person double occupancy. The Knight's Feast is a sumptuous 8-course meal with appetizers, wine, and 3 hours of bardic entertainment. There are even more special festivities planned for Christmas and New Year's.
The Castle Schwalenberg was established in 1231 by Count Volkwin III. The castle became a mother's convalescent home from 1938 to 1945 and from 1946 to 1962 it was a children's recreation home. In 1963 it was renovated and turned into a hotel and restaurant.
The castle is located near the picturesque Weser River in Northrhine Westphalia, near the town of Hameln, site of the Pied Piper of Hameln tale. This area is a artist's dream with its half-timbered homes and beautiful scenery.
Castles for Sale
One of the most exciting things about this castle is you can buy it for a cool 2.2 million dollars. The owners are retiring and selling the castle, along with its restaurant, conference rooms, private zoo, separate dwelling house, and 10.3 acres of land.
Stately Schloss Demmin
Schloss Demmin - $3 million
Since the unification of Germany many state owned castles have been returned to the families that lost them under Communist rule. Many families have put their castles up for sale since the maintenance or renovations exceed their ability. You can pick up a Victorian mansion for as little as 90,000 euros (about $107,000) or a completely renovated fairy tale castle complex for 3 million. There are many castles and manors in need of renovation available in the half million range.
About 75 miles north of Berlin, an elegant renovated 19th century palace or Schloss stands near the town of Demmin in a 22 acre park designed by Berlin landscape architect Joseph Lenné. The palace has 8 apartments, an office suite and a cellar.
17th century Schloss Marksuhl
Schloss Marksuhl with its own lake
Looking for a bargain, how about this 17th century palatial complex with a lake on 45 acres for only $567,000? Located in the Thuringer Forest, smack dab in the center of Germany, this Georgian-style castle was the summer residence of the Eisenacher dukes.
Schloss Nohra
Schloss Nohra costs less than a 2-bedroom house in some parts of the USA
If you are interested in something even older, perhaps needing some fix-up, how about a castle that was converted to a cattle and pig farm! Only $240,000 for the great hall and annex buildings located near Nohra in the Thuringer region. Originally built in 1287 the castle was rebuilt in the Renaissance. After fires in the 18th and 19th century it was renovated and used as a farm under the Communists.
Marksuhl-great hall
How to Hunt for Castles Online
One of the best sites I've found for browsing Castles for Sale is Pfeiffer & Koberstein. Since it is in German and very little of the site is translated into English you'll find it helpful to use FreeTranslation.com to translate one or two paragraphs at a time. However, it can be frustrating if not amusing when the computer mis-translates. For instance the word Schloss is translated as "lock" by their program instead of as "palace," "stately home," or "mansion". Distances on German sites are in metric so I use ConvertMe to convert square meters, hectare and kilometers into square feet, acres and miles. Oanda is one of the best websites to convert Euros into US dollars. Use the Oanda converter classic to convert one amount at a time or print out a cheat sheet. I use Mapquest.DE to find the location of the castles on a map of Germany.
As of today there are 35 castle for sale on Pfeiffer & Koberstein. Even if you never move to Germany, you can always take a look and dream about owning a real castle someday.

Originally published October 2005 by Gael Stirler

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