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This Brokerage Firm Only Lists Castles and Historic Buildings

Deciding you want to buy a castle is easy. The hard part is knowing where to look for one. That’s where VIP Castle comes in: this specialty brokerage firm focuses exclusively on selling castles and other historic buildings. 

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Natalia Makovik founded the firm in 2007 after making the move from Belarus to the Czech Republic eight years prior. Unable to afford one of the country's more than 2000 castles and chateaux, Makovik decided to turn her passion for historical architecture into a career. "I believe it lies in that magic childhood dream of wanting to become the princess of a castle," Makovik tells mental_floss of her inspiration behind the move. More than five years passed before Makovik sold her first property, but today she’s closing up to three deals a month, with some buildings selling for nearly $4.5 million.

Not every castle she sells is limited to the mega-rich; people browsing properties on VIPCastle.com can narrow their search to "affordable castles." While that may sound like an oxymoron, the prices are often comparable to much humbler homes here in the states. The Kolovratsky Castle, for example—which Makovik's website describes as an "historical monument of the Czech Republic"—is currently listed at an asking price of 19,000 € or around $21,000. To put that into perspective, the median price of a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $710,000, according to The New York Times. The trade-off is restoration expenses, which can sometimes end up costing castle owners 10 times the purchase price.

Compared to other parts of Europe, a dilapidated castle bought in the Czech Republic is still a great bargain. "The Czech historical properties market is considered one of the most attractive areas for investment," says Makovik. VIP Castle specifies that non-residents are also allowed to buy historical properties in the country, so anyone is free to search through the company's online listings (there are currently 35 of them). "Anyone can buy an expensive car," says Makovik. "Owning a castle is rare."

[h/t Bloomberg Businessweek]

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Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images
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Long-Closed Part of Westminster Abbey to Open to the Public for the First Time in 700 Years
The triforium in 2009
The triforium in 2009
Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images

On June 11, 2018, visitors to London's Westminster Abbey will get a look at a section of the historic church that has been off-limits for 700 years. That’s when the triforium, located high above the abbey floor, will open to the general public for the first time as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, according to Condé Nast Traveler.

The 13th-century space, located 70 feet above the nave floor, had previously been used for abbey storage. (One architecture critic who visited before the renovation described it as a “glorified attic.”) After a $32.5 million renovation, it will now become a museum with killer views.

The view from the triforium looking down onto the rest of Westminster Abbey
The view from the triforium looking down toward the ground floor of the abbey
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

To access the area, which looks out over the nave and altar, architects built a new tower, the abbey’s first major addition since 1745. The 80-foot-tall, window-lined structure will provide brand-new vantage points to look out on surrounding areas of Westminster. Inside the triforium, the windows of the galleries look out onto the Houses of Parliament and St. Margaret’s church, and visitors will be able to walk around the upper mezzanine and look down onto the ground floor of the abbey below.

The museum itself will show off objects from Westminster Abbey’s history, such as a 17th-century coronation chair for Mary II and an altarpiece from Henry III’s reign, when the triforium was first constructed. Oh, and it will also display Prince William and Kate Middleton’s marriage license, for those interested in more modern royal history.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen
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A Look at One of Norway's Most Beautiful Public Bathrooms
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

In Norway, beautiful architecture isn’t limited to new museums and opera houses. The country also has some incredible bathrooms, thanks to a program called the National Tourist Routes, which commissions architects to design imaginative, beautiful rest stops and lookout points to encourage travel in some of the country’s more remote areas.

One of the latest projects to be unveiled, as Dezeen alerted us, is a high-design commode in the northern Norwegian municipality of Gildeskål. The newly renovated site located along the Norwegian Scenic Route Helgelandskysten, called Ureddplassen, was recently opened to the public.

Bench seating outside the restroom, with mountains in the background
Lars Grimsby / State Road Administration

A view up the stairs of the amphitheater toward steep mountains
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

Designed by the Oslo-based designers Haugen/Zohar Architects and the landscape architects Landskapsfabrikken AS, the site includes an amphitheater, a viewing platform, and of course, a beautiful restroom. The area is a popular place to view the Northern Lights in the fall and winter and the midnight sun in the summer, so it sees a fair amount of traffic.

The site has been home to a monument honoring victims of the 1943 sinking of a World War II submarine called the Uredd since 1987, and the designers added a new marble base to the monument as part of this project.

A view of the monument to the soldiers lost in the sinking of the Uredd
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

Now, travelers and locals alike can stop off the highway for a quick pee in the restroom, with its rolling concrete and glass design, then plop down on the steps of the amphitheater to gaze at the view across the Norwegian Sea. It’s one rest stop you’ll actually want to rest at.

[h/t Dezeen]

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