Spain's most expensive property to open to the public?
If you've ever been lounging by the sea in the lovely resort of Puerto Pollensa, you may well have noticed a rather large estate sitting atop the peninsula jutting out into the sea in a commanding position over the bay. It is in fact an old defensive castle-like structure called La Fortaleza (strength) which now forms part of a large private estate which a few years ago became Spain's most expensive property when it was sold for a reported €40 million.
It is however, a building 'listed' as being of Good Cultural Interest (BIC) by the authorities because of its role in Mallorca's history and in theory should be open to the public on 4 occasions every month. Whilst it has been used for private functions like weddings over the last few years, it has never been available to the general public and so the Mallorcan authorities are now in negotiations with the owner, a British banker, to do this.
It was originally constructed over the six years from 1622 as a defence against raiding Berber and Turkish pirates protecting as it did the Bay of Pollensa. Hardly ever used for this purpose as piratical raids began to subside soon after its construction, La Fortaleza did little until it was bought by an Argentine painter, Roberto Raumagé in 1919 for 45,000 pesetas!
The Bohemian artist renovated the ruined buildings, added a dramatic arcade, an intricate network of terraced gardens, and a huge ornamental pond and used the whole estate as party central, throwing extravagant shindigs which lasted for days and inviting the glitterati of the art world to stay. However, this golden lifestyle all came to an end with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War when the military, who already had a hydroplane base next door, confiscated the estate.
Even though Raumagé took steps to claim his property back from 1964, he had died before it was eventually returned and his family sold it in 1989 to a British man, John Ogden, who spent a fortune renovating the 232 acre estate with its tower, seven villas and two pools into the condition it is now in. He originally put it onto the market in 2008 for around €100 million, just in time for the property price slump.
Certainly the photos available of La Fortaleza show it as a magnificent estate with immaculately manicured gardens and trees and well worth a visit if it was thrown open to the public. Let's face it, we're all curious about how the other half lives and we could of course ask the eternal question about the owner, 'is he happy?'