Forget buying-to-let in Bulgaria. Just next door the investment of a lifetime could be up for grabs: Count Dracula’s castle in Romania, perhaps the most famous castle in the world. The council of Brasov has been given 30 days to raise funds to buy the castle which appeared in Bram Stoker’s legendary book, before it is offered to the public. ‘The owners are reluctant to sell it,’ said agent Lia Doru Trandafir, ‘but they believe the only way to preserve it is to put it in the hands of professionals.’
The Castle, formerly known as Bran Castle, is for sale for ?60m ? largely because of its diverse collection of art objects, paintings and furniture dating from the 14th century. Forests, 7,556 sq m of land and three smaller buildings are also included in the sale. ‘It is the world’s most expensive castle,’ said Ms Trandafir, ‘but there is only one Dracula Castle ? it is a brand.’
A true professional will be required to manage to 14th century fortress, believed to have once housed Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Stoker’s novel. There are 57 rooms, a few old and decrepit bathrooms and stringent heritage preservations ensuring few changes can be made to the building. But the old customs house, Queen Marie’s Tea House and Princess Ileana’s house, which would be included in the sale are ripe for development and a hotel or substantial residence could be built in the grounds overlooking the castle.
At present the castle is a successful museum, bringing in 450,000 visitors each year. ‘It is a money-making machine,’ explained Ms Trandifir. ‘It makes millions of euros each year.’ Having been bequeathed to Queen Marie of Romania, it was appropriated by the Communist regime in 1956 and many of the books and art items were stolen. According to local folklore one of the communists used leather from stolen books to make shoes.
The communists converted the castle into a museum; this is when the bathrooms ceased to operate. ‘They didn’t think bathrooms were important in a museum,’ said Ms Trandifir. The castle was only returned to its owners, the von Habsburgs eight months ago on the condition that it remained a state-run museum for the next three years. But Dominic von Habsburg has decided to sell.
According to the agents, the castle is in surprisingly good condition although it would undoubtedly cost a considerable amount to convert it into a habitable house or hotel.
Castle Bran is situated 160km from Bucharest airport
For further details please telephone +40 21 311 1460