This must surely be one of the most extraordinary houses for sale in the world right now: a magnificently-restored villa with a place in history, as Molly Biddell reports.
Villa Kampffmeyer was built in 1923, as the first Baroque-inspired private house in the Glienicke Bridge area of Berlin, splendidly located on the waterside and beautiful in its grandeur; it is on the market via Savills at a guide price of €23 million.
The villa’s history is fascinating: it was one of the secondary locations used for the Potsdam Conference of 1945, at which Winston Churchil, Joseph Stalin and Harry Truman hammered out the post-war deal which decided the fate of Europe.
And that fate became pivotal in the history of Villa Kampffmeyer itself: the grounds were literally split between the two halves of the city established after the war, and the Berlin Wall actually ran through the gardens.
The villa must have witnessed all manner of Cold War skulduggery in and around its environs: Glienicke Bridge itself is probably better known (particularly to readers of John Le Carré and Len Deighton novels) as the Bridge of Spies, where agents of all sides passed through.
Today the whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, of which the villa occupies two acres. There are elegantly landscaped gardens dotted with ancient trees, and lawns rolling down to a tranquil lake, across which are exclusive views of Babelsberg Castle, the Summer residence of Emperor William I.
The villa itself was inspired by the elegance and flair of both neo-classical and baroque styles, with the external architecture epitomising its opulent past. The grand entrance portico is adorned by Ernst Vogel’s Three Graces and Mercury sculptures; on the opposite side of the villa is a multi-tiered cupola, embellished with a statue of the Greek God Hermes.
Inside there is 15,000 square feet of renovated living space which incorporates a masterfully executed fusion of traditional majesty and elegant modernity, with fantastic waterside vistas.
Central to the house is the Great Hall, complete with a classical fireplace, oak staircase, wood panelling and silk tapestry.
The library boasts direct views of the lake, and an ornate coffered golden ceiling. The floor-to-ceiling windows of the Blue Salon open onto a beautiful terrace, leading down to the rose garden.
The Music Room’s exquisite silk wall coverings and rich woodwork are particularly spectacular, whilst the Garden Room’s checkerboard pattern of original stone flooring encapsulates the elegance of the villa.
Upstairs, the Panorama Room’s waterside vistas and expansive wall space lend themselves to an exhibition space. The master bedroom, ensuite dressing room and adjacent study have breath-taking views of the lake and landscaped garden.
A highlight of the upper floor is the golden bathroom, complemented by several elegantly coloured guest rooms and two extra bathrooms.
Plans to develop additional bedrooms in the top floor of the villa and a cinema and gym in the basement have been drafted and a building permit has been issued. The basement area includes a sizeable apartment for staff use.
Villa Kampffmeyer is less than a 25 minute drive to the bustle of Berlin, Germany’s cultural cornucopia, and international airports are just 30 minutes away. The guide price is €23 million – you can see more details and pictures here.
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Cities that never sleep.