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Luxury Revamped: 3 Historic Castles with Modern Interiors

Luxury Defined presents a collection of old world castles modernized for the 21st century

Castles are the stuff of legend and lore, but the fortified structures of medieval Europe were the high-tech buildings of their day. In the Middle Ages, a castle was the ultimate architectural symbol of authority in peacetime and in war. 

Built to withstand prolonged sieges, the earliest motte-and-bailey fortifications were ingeniously re-engineered over the centuries to fend off intruders in imaginative and wildly wicked ways: a drawbridge across a wide moat (cold, deep, and murky), a curtain wall with arrow-slit apertures, a spiked portcullis gate, uneven (trip) steps, even spiral stairways with clockwise risers (pinning right-handed sword-arms against the wall).

As if that were not enough, the aptly named murder hole let defenders rain down unpleasantness in the form of boiling oil, arrows, and bolts from crossbows. 

We could go on. We won’t.  

A thousand years later, the clash of arms echoes only in old Technicolor movies, but castles endure, figuratively and literally, as symbols of beauty, substance, and stature.

Herewith, Luxury Defined extends a very warm welcome to three castles of old, converted into luxuriously modern homes. Worry ye not, for safe entry and hospitality await within these ancient limestone walls: Thoroughly modern interiors optimized for utmost comfort and luxury. Murder holes optional. 

1. Castle Mishaegen in Brasschaat, Antwerp, Belgium 

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Behind imposing iron gates lies Castle Mishaegen, a fairy-tale castle in a private wooded setting in the Flanders region of Belgium, just outside the city of Antwerp. 

While the estate dates to the 15th century, this neoclassical jewel was built in 1772 and meticulously restored by the present owner in collaboration with architect Stephane Boens and interior designer Rebecca Verstraete. 

Adorned with bespoke furnishings and unique materials sourced from across the globe, such as 400-million-year-old fossilized marble, each room within the castle has its own distinct character.

Among the technological advancements are a central Bang & Olufsen audio system, Basalte one-touch smart-home automation, biofuel fireplaces, air conditioning and security systems, all invisibly integrated. 

The magnificent grounds’ ancillary structures include an orangery, a coach house, and a concierge’s residence. In the gardens, an ancient deciduous forest, a landscaped park with three ponds, and a walled vegetable garden with apple, pear, and fig orchards complete the fairy tale.  

2. 19th-Century Château near Cognac, Charente, France 

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This 19th-century château has an idyllic parklike setting on the banks of the Charente River in the Cognac wine region of southwestern France. 

Built in 1880, the château has retained all of its original Belle Époque splendor. The imposing entrance hall, with exquisite marble flooring, reveals a staircase with intricate metalwork, spiraling to the upper floors. 

The palatial reception rooms are beautifully appointed with stone fireplaces, wide-plank wood floors, and high, decorative ceilings. Custom furnishings and bespoke light fixtures throughout add to the grandeur.  

There are 13 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, (11 en suite), a chef’s kitchen, a wine cellar, a gym, and a seminar room ideal for large-scale events. 

The grounds include a caretaker’s cottage and several listed outbuildings, configured as offices, garages, and a winery, surrounded by 6.35 acres of wooded parkland with a swimming pool, a tennis court, and, a stone’s throw from the riverbank, an enchanting private island. 

3. Neo-Gothic Castle in the Langhe, Piedmont, Italy 

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This imposing neo-Gothic castle is set on a rise surrounded by the Barolo vineyards of the Langhe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Piedmont, Italy.  

The castle was built in the 15th century on the site of a Roman fortress. Its present form dates from the mid-1800s, designed by architect Giovanni Battista Schellino for Turin noblewoman Maria Allara Nigra. 

In 1967 the present owners reconstructed the 26,211-square-foot castle and its medieval outbuildings, transforming the 8.6-acre property into a successful hotel, restaurant, and hospitality business.  

The castle itself is composed of two wings: the hotel, with 15 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms for guests, and the 1970s-vintage event halls, restaurant, and rooftop solarium terrace. There are an additional 10 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms in the ancillary buildings.  

The restaurant has two dining halls, a cocktail bar, and two vast terraces. Upstairs are a professional kitchen, events spaces, terraces, and balconies. Above are the guest suites, each decoratively styled with 19th-century ceiling frescoes, artworks, and antique furniture. 

The original medieval stables were converted into a charming guest house. The old servants’ quarters, now the owners’ residence, offer a panoramic view of the countryside.

Surrounding the complex are 1.6 acres of landscaped parkland. A private woodland, roughly five acres, is an excellent spot for truffles, but has planning permission to repurpose the land for a Nebbiolo/Barolo vineyard. 

Enter the world of legend and lore; explore our collection of medieval castles.