Inside the fairytale castles you could own in Italy ... with 'great value'
For those who fancy a home fit for a king or queen, dozens of stunning residences are currently up for sale from the north to the south of Italy.
Private palaces from Piedmont to the Tuscan countryside have asking prices in the range of £2million to £14m.
Full of charm and many in mint condition, some of the castles are already being used as tourist accommodation while others are working farms.
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Fancy a home fit for royalty? Look no further than this medieval castle in Piedmont in Italy's north west for just £5.5million
Costs for this 12 bedroom Piedmont property will total approximately £5.5m, or just over £780 per square metre
The castle's stunning private chapel is ornately decorated
CASTLE PRICE COMPARISON:
Castello in Piedmont: €7m (£5.5m)
Castello di Sapia: €2.5m (£1.96m)
Castello di Tavolese: €18m (£14m)
Castello in Lombardy: €16m (£12.6m)
Castello di Acquabella: €5.5m (£5.3m)
Castello nel Chianti: €18m (£14m)
The best value offerings are currently in Piedmont, particularly the eye-catching castles in the Monferrato area, such as .
Its tower, stone balconies and stunning boardroom all date back to the 18th century, with a renovated neo-Gothic dining room and theatre decorated with frescoes inspired by Don Quixote.
There are three apartments on the upper level, totalling 12 bedrooms in all, as well as a dance hall, music hall, library, courtyard and swimming pool.
For this magnificent 5,962 square metre property, the costs will run approximately £5.5m, or just over £780 per square metre.
The Castello di Sapia, near Monteriggioni, which is less than 4.5 miles from Siena, is nestled in the hilly Tuscan countryside - though the home itself needs complete restoration, which helps to explain its comparatively bargain price £1.96m price tag.
Dating back to the 1200s, Castello di Tavolese is close to both Florence and Siena and is listed at £14,455,800
The impressive residence is spread over five floors and also boasts a separate farmhouse that's been converted into apartments
Castello di Sapia in the Tuscany countryside is on the market for just £1.96m as the home itself needs a complete restoration
Castello di Tavolese is another impressive castle that dates back to the first half of the 1200s. Spread over five floors, which includes a watch tower, the house also boasts a separate farmhouse that has been transformed into six apartments.
A prime example would be the 19th-century Castello di Acquabella, located in the stunning setting of the Vallombrosa Nature Reserve. An Abbey of the same name is nearby, which has been restored to perfection.
The picture-perfect 19th-century Castello di Acquabella is located in the stunning setting of the Vallombrosa Nature Reserve
Also in Tuscany, on the coast, between Livorno and Castiglioncello, an early 20th-century castle with breathtaking sea views is for sale
The home showcases old terra cotta floors, as well as ornate ceilings and walls and refined, elegant antique furniture
The rooms - not to mention the home's impressive staircase - truly reflect the prestige of the castle and the fine detailing
Archways are another signature of the neo-Gothic architecture style, as well as tall, narrow windows
The home itself is also a work of art, totalling 4,000 square metres over five levels.
Also in Tuscany, on the coast, between Livorno and Castiglioncello, an early 20th-century castle with breathtaking sea views is for sale.
With 700 square metres of indoor space over four floors and two crenellated towers, the majestic structure is reminiscent of a property found in a Disney film.
Most impressive of all is the castle's location from the coast and its incredible views. There is also direct private access to the sea.
Outside, the building is situated among a lush park with palm trees, oak trees, age-old pines and other exotic plants.
In Lombardy, this traditional manor home is surrounded by a circle of medieval walls and protected by a typical moat with lift bridge
Inside, rooms and halls are decorated in the neoclassical style of ancient Rome and Greece, which includes marble statues and columns
The sprawling property has six crenellated towers, stables, an Italian-style garden, a chapel and even a private cemetery
In Lombardy, near Milan, there are several more manor homes for sale.
Among them is a magnificent castle surrounded by a circle of medieval walls and protected by a typical moat. The sprawling property boasts six crenellated towers, stables, a chapel and private cemetery. Outside, an Italian-style garden and large swimming pool completes the idyllic setting.
For those with a bit more of a budget to burn, look no further than Tuscany's Chianti region, halfway between Florence and Siena. The 10th-century property on offer is located on 100 hectares of land, where wine has long been produced on site.
Inside, the castle artfully combines the ancient and modern, including beamed ceilings, terra cotta floors, fine marble, stone staircases and antique furniture.
For those with even deeper pockets, look no further than the Castello nel Chianti, located halfway between Florence and Siena
The 10th-century property on offer is located on 100 hectares of land, where wine has long been produced on site
The castle artfully combines ancient and modern, with beamed ceilings, terra cotta floors, fine marble, stone staircases and antique furniture
This is just one of the 37 castles in Italy that luxury real estate firm, Lionard, currently has for sale
Though many price tags may seem high, CEO Dimitri Corti insists that historic properties will always be a wise economic investment
While Luxury real estate company Lionard currently has 37 castles for sale, there are more than 70 throughout Italy in their portfolio.
Many owners, whose properties have been in the family for generations, have opted to sell due to high maintenance costs and an increasing tax burden.
But for foreign clients, these prices are relatively affordable, insists the CEO of Lionard Luxury Real Estate, Dimitri Corti.
'In our experience, purchasing a property of great value, like a castle or historic villa will always translate into opportunity because it gives an economic boost to the local area,' Corti explains.
Now you could buy your very own chateaux: Falling euro and high number of castles available to buy in France mean prices have dropped by half in some areas
British buyers seeking their very own French chateaux have seen property prices drop by more than 45 per cent since 2007 - with the further bonus of the collapse in the value of the Euro.
Bargain hunters can a historic property in the popular Dordogne region for less than €1million - £750,000, with better value on offer in less fashionable areas.
One luxury property, which is available for less than £500,000 in Bordeaux features a 16th century castle on four hectares.
This four bedroom house in the Dordogne has been reduced from £1.1m to £830,000
This 17th century chateaux near Dijon has been fully restored and is wroth in the region of £2million
The property has seven bedrooms and six bathrooms, with a small cottage for the caretaker, an apartment for the gardener and a large wine cellar.
Property expert Bruno de Saint-Exupery, director of the Emile Garcin estate agency told The Times: 'You can find chateaux with 500 square metres of living room in a good condition in the perigord for €800,000 to €900,000 today. Some prices have fallen 45 per cent since 2007.'
It is estimated that there are 40,000 chateaux across France and due to a reduction in property prices combined with the general weakness of the Euro, British buyers have the opportunity to secure bargains.
However, experts warned that local and national property taxes could have set back the new home owner anything between £20,000 and £80,000 a year.
Patrick Besse, who has 136 properties on his books said: 'They are changing hands now because the children have gone abroad or because those who have stayed in France do not have the means to pay for their upkeep.'
This chateaux near Bordeaux has a 8.5 hectare vineyard and separate cottage cost £2.3 million
The four enormous Scottish castles that WOULDN'T be hit by the mansion tax - and the fifth-floor London flat that would be
Four huge castles in Scotland are among the palatial properties north of the border which would not be hit by the mansion tax - while a two-bedroom flat in central London would be, it emerged today.
The row over Labour's planned levy has intensified in recent days after the party's new Scottish leader Jim Murphy boasted that he would boost the NHS in Scotland by using up to £250million raised from the controversial tax in England.
Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls has suggested a £2million threshold would be placed on the tax, with the owners of properties priced above that value taking a hit.
But low property prices in Scotland mean even the owners of the 17-bedroom baronial Orchardton Hall mansion house in Dumfries and Galloway - which is currently on the market for £1.4million - would get out of paying the charge.
Ethie Castle in Angus dates from the 14th century and has eight reception rooms and nine bedrooms - but its £1.65million price tag means it would be unaffected by Labour's planned mansion tax, which it has been suggested would only affect properties over a £2million threshold
Lickleyhead Castle near Aberdeen has seven bedrooms and a separate 'gardeners cottage' in its sprawling grounds. But at £1.35million, its owners would also not have to pay the planned charge
According to estate agents, Lickleyhead is 'a fine example of a late 15th century four-storey towerhouse, with a stone circular stairway'
Similarly, the nine-bedroom, eight-reception room £1.65million Elsie Castle in Angus, which comes with an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court and walled garden, would also avoid the tax.
The sprawling £1.65million Arbigland House mansion in Kirkbean near Dumfries, which boasts, according to estate agents, 'unprecedented views over the sea and surrounding countryside' and the turreted £1.35million Lickleyhead Castle near Aberdeen would also not incur the levy.
However, in London - where critics of the tax have pointed out that even owners of modest homes would face the charge - some small flats are priced above the £2million threshold.
A two-bedroom, fifth-floor flat in Princes Court apartment block, Knightsbridge is currently on the market for £2.1million, meaning its eventual owners will have to pay if the tax if it is brought in.
The discrepancy is one of the reasons why some of London's Labour MPs have hit out at Mr Murphy's claims of extra money for Scotland.
Arbigland House, Kirkbean, near Dumfries, is a Georgian house with a cobbled courtyard and a famous coastal garden. It is one of the 'palatial' mansions whose relatively low price compared to properties in south east England mean they would be exempt from the mansion tax
Seller says Arbigland has 'a classical Georgian entrance with good decorative stone detail' and 'beautifully proportioned' reception rooms
Similarly Orchardton House, a baronial mansion overlooking the Solway Firth. Despite having seventeen bedrooms, it is valued at £1.4million
Estate agents say Orchardton Hall is 'a fine example of a mansion house built in the Scots Baronial style popular in the Victorian era'
Former Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbott accused Mr Murphy of trying to ‘buy Scottish votes with money expropriated from London’.
And former Labour Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell warned him against treating the South East as a ‘cash cow’.
Tottenham MP David Lammy added his voice to the Labour dissenters today when he told the Evening Standard: 'Why should the landed gentry in Scotland, or someone with a place as large as Downton Abbey, get away scot-free?'
Labour’s new mansion tax will levy an annual charge on all properties valued at more than £2million.
Full details have yet to be announced, but Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said last year that homes worth between £2million and £3million will face an annual bill of £3,000, regardless of income.
Critics warn that the tax will disproportionately hit London and the South East, where many ordinary family homes will be caught by the plans. Fewer than 900 homes in Scotland would be affected – 0.3 per cent of the UK total.
Meanwhile in London, a fifth-floor, two-bedroom apartment in Knightsbridge's Prince Court has been valued at £2.1million, making it eligible
It was fought over repeatedly during the Crusades - now this amazingly preserved 900-year-old Syrian castle is being destroyed as war returns to its walls
It is one of the world's most important and best preserved Crusader castles, which once held off a siege by the Muslim warrior Saladin some 900 years ago and was lauded for its beauty by Lawrence of Arabia.
But the Crac des Chevaliers has now fallen victim to the chaos of Syria's civil war following a siege between Government forces and villagers and rebels using the castle for refuge, much like the Crusaders before them.
The Government offensive in March saw heavy artillery damage the castle's walls, while an airstrike punctured its roof and shrapnel tore through its religious artifacts.
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Damage: The Crac des Chevaliers, the world's best preserved medieval Crusader castle, has fallen victim to the chaos of Syria's civil war after becoming part of a siege in March
Rubble: Heavy artillery damaged the castle's walls, an airstrike punctured its roof and shrapnel tore through its religious artifacts during the offensive
Towering: The Crac des Chevaliers is listed as a UNSECO World Heritage Site and once held off a siege by the Muslim warrior Saladin some 900 years ago
The damage done to the majestic stone structure, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, shows that the warring sides will stop at nothing, including the destruction of the country's rich heritage, to hold on to power or territory.
About two years ago, President Bashir Assad's forces identified the Sunni-populated village of Hosn as backing the rebels. They began an armed blockade that allowed no one to leave or go inside. The government said Hosn harbored foreign, al-Qaida-linked armed insurgents who terrorized neighboring, mostly Christian villages.
'The terrorists killed and kidnapped people and even chopped off their heads,' said a Syrian army officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, using the government term for the insurgents. 'We had to stop them at any cost.'
Got a spare £2.5million? Then one of these amazing CASTLES could be yours...
If you're feeling flush and are in need of a new place to lay your head, then one of these magnificent castles could be just what you need.
According to the Daily Telegraph, all of the properties are currently being advertised by British estate agents and range from a historic Scottish fortress that once belonged to the earls of Fife to a magnificent hilltop palazzo in Italy.
But you'll need deep pockets to afford one, as even the cheapest of the palatial homes will set you back more than £1 million.
Historic: Parts of the magnificent Castello di Collalto just outside Rome date from the 10th century but if you want to move in, you'll have to cough up more than £7m
Spacious: The nine-bedroom castle sleeps up to 19 people and also boasts seven bathrooms and a separate two-bedroom cottage for staff
Spectacular: The 14th century Thurland Castle has been converted into a number of luxury apartments. The three bedroom Cromwell Wing is yours for £1.1m
Renovated: The two main rooms in the Cromwell Wing are of vast mediaeval proportions and have retained their original fireplaces and cornice fittings
Each of the castle dates from a different period, although Westenhanger Castle, near Hythe in Kent, arguably has the most fascinating past.
The castle, a scheduled ancient monument, began life in 1035 during a period of Danish rule under King Canute. Following the Norman Conquest, Westenhanger was passed to a succession of knightly families, including the de Aubervilles, the de Kiriols, the Fogges and the Poynings.
Permission to crenellate was given by Edward III in 1343 and a curtain wall built to connect with the earlier round tower. By the 1540s, the castle was crumbling and it was completely remodelled by its Elizabethan owner, Thomas Smythe, in 1581.
Impressive though Westenhanger is, it isn't the only castle with a history to be proud of on sale. Thurland Castle in Lancashire, although split into several apartments, still retains its moat and was owned by Sir Bryan Tunstall, a heroic soldier immortalised in a poem by Sir William Raleigh.
He was a hero of the Battle of Flodden in 1513, and was dubbed the 'Stainless Knight' by King Henry VII. He was followed by his son Marmaduke, who became High Sheriff of Lancashire.
Magnificent: The 16th Century Lickleyhead Castle in Auchleven near Aberdeen was built in 1560 by William Leith and boasts seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms
Imposing: The drawing room at Lickleyhead Castle, which despite it's vast size, is the cheapest of the castles and costs just £1.3m for the entire property
Cosy: Despite it's impressive size, Lickleyhead Castle is cosily furnished with traditional dark wood in the library (left) and romantic four poster beds (right)
Striking: The cream stone Myres Castle near St Andrews comes with two additional properties and has 10 bedrooms, a library, a Victorian kitchen and a billiards room
Comfortable: Myres Castle was begun in 1454 and was the ancestral home of the earls of Fife. It's now on the market at £2.5m
Later, Thurland was sold to Sir John Girlington, who fought on the Royalist side during the English Civil War. During a 1643 siege, the castle was badly damaged by Parliamentarian forces and was left in a 'ruinous' condition before being restored in the 18th century.
But not all of the homes are in England. Scotland too has a wealth of impressive properties including the pretty 18th century Bonaly Tower, which was the venue for frequent meetings of the 'Friday Club', a group of leading Edinburgh literati, hosted by owner Lord Cockburn.
Others include Myres Castle near St Andrews, the former seat of the earls of Fife, and the imposing Lickleyhead Castle near Aberdeen, which was built by William Leith in 1560.
Outside of the UK, there's a magnificent Italian palazzo dating from the 10th century. But the Castello di Collato near Rome doesn't come cheap. Of all the properties, it is the most expensive and you'll have to hand over £7 million before you get to move in and become king of the castle.
Heritage: Castle Gogar is just six miles from the centre of Edinburgh and was built in Scots Baronial style. It has seven bedrooms and is on the market for £2.9m
Eclectic: Castle Gogar has its own battlements, towers and turrets within, while outside, the property boasts a menage and a stable block with room for three horses
Ancient: Westenhanger Castle in Kent dates from 1035 and the reign of King Canute but was modernised during the reign of Elizabeth II. It is on the market for £2.6m
Elizabethan: Most of the interior owes its shape and size to the first Elizabethan Age and includes period diamond-paned windows and inglenook fireplaces
Famous: The 18th century Bonaly Tower was the venue for frequent meetings of the 'Friday Club', a group of leading Edinburgh literati, hosted by owner Lord Cockburn
Sumptuous: A three-bedroom apartment within Bonaly Tower is on the market at £795,000 and includes a separate study and a slice of the extensive grounds