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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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Ker Robertson, Getty Images
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architecture
5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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Paul Wegener
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Design
For Sale: The Safest House in America, Complete With Hidden Command Center
Paul Wegener
Paul Wegener

For some people, locking the front door just isn't enough to feel fully safe at home. Maybe they set up a home security system. Maybe they go out and buy a fancy smart home hub with a security camera. Or maybe they spend six years and $30 million to build a veritable fortress mansion, as one guy in Atlanta did. That house, called the Rice House and referred to as one of the safest homes in America, is now up for sale for $14.7 million.

Built by an entrepreneur who hired a security architect with a background designing Justice Department buildings (and his own bunker/house), the Rice House is billed as a "modern fortress" in the real estate listing.

For its owner, creating an impenetrable home was more of a personal challenge than a real security need, according to Bloomberg. But by its features, you'd think it was built for a Bond super-villain or a head of state, not a businessman in a wealthy Atlanta neighborhood.

A secure door with several locks
Paul Wegener

It has its own water and power supply, a 5000-square-foot command center hidden behind a waterfall, a vault, and doors capable of withstanding machine gun fire. There’s an indoor gun range, in case you need some target practice. There’s enough room in the garage for 30 cars, in case you have a few dozen Batmobiles—or you want to invite friends to hunker down with you during the apocalypse.

And since anyone who lives there might be more invested in staying safely inside the gates than going out on the weekends, the place has plenty of amenities that make it a standalone mini-community. It’s got its own art gallery, a gym, a bowling alley, a wine cellar, a home theater, and a pool. It has three kitchens and two commercial elevators, with staff quarters so the servants you inevitably need to cater to you never need to leave, either.

But wait, there’s more. If the house lacks something you want, that’s fine! Because according to the listing, “the property purposefully awaits final personalization.” In other words, for your $14.7 million, it’s not finished.

Check it out here.

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