This Europe: Historic castles for sale, from only 1p

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The Independent Online

If you've ever dreamt of owning a castle, it may be time to move to Slovakia. The country's heritage office has more than 100 castles and stately homes for sale on the internet. And they're a snip.

If you've ever dreamt of owning a castle, it may be time to move to Slovakia. The country's heritage office has more than 100 castles and stately homes for sale on the internet. And they're a snip.

You can get the ruins of a 12th-century castle for only £175,000. Or how about a manor house for as little as £14,500? You could even put in a bid for Halic, a massive, 17th-century hexagonal fortress where the Hungarian aristocracy held off the invading Turkish army in 1678.

Of course, there is a catch. Many of the 160 properties listed on the National Heritage Office's website are in serious disrepair. They are on sale because their owners – mostly municipalities and some commercial companies – cannot afford restoration.

And everything's negotiable, even the 14th-century ruins of Viglassky castle. "The question is not how much to ask," the mayor of Viglas village, Pavel Vyboh, says. "The question is whether we can find someone willing to invest in it. We would sell it for one crown (1p). The snag is that restoring it could cost £7m."

So far, most interest has come from Austrians, Swiss and Germans, the Slovak Ministry of Culture says. Some want properties to turn into tourist attractions, but many seek private homes. Jaroslav Kolar, a ministry spokesman, says: "We would be very lucky if there were more investors from abroad.

"Slovakia has hundreds of castles. Most are owned by the state, and they are in good condition. But where castles belong to villages or municipalities or the church, it is their business if they want to sell."

The Slovak Heritage Office says there are 12,000 historic buildings and castles listed as part of their national cultural heritage. Only 160 of them are for sale.

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