What would you do for love? Some might suggest a bouquet of roses or a strand of pearls. Not these architecture-loving romantics, who went above and beyond to make their sweethearts swoon, building extravagant mansions from Malaysia to Albania in the ultimate grand gesture. Designed as symbols of undying commitment, these impressive estates around the world hold exceptionally romantic histories.
5 Buildings designed in the name of love
Porto Palermo Castle
The Porto Palermo castle, or as it is known as the Castle of Vasiliqia, is located in the bay with the same name on the coast of the Ionian Sea in southern Albania, on an island about 30 m away from the coast. The casle of Porto Palermo is one of Ali Pasha Tepelena’s many palaces, which he gave as a gift to one of his wives, Vasiliqia, whom, according to chroniclers of the time, the Pasha of Ioannina was very fond of. Although said to have been built as a gift, by the sea, for Pasha’s wife Vasiliqia, the triangular castle is dated to be older than Ali Pashaj, which he restored it in the name of love.
Swallow’s Nest Castle
A neo-Gothic fortress, Swallow’s Nest Castle sits 130 feet above the waters of the Black Sea. Little is known about the history of the castle, which was built by a German noble in 1912. According to local legend, he visited the plot of land on his honeymoon, which was then occupied by a small wood home, and decided it would be better suited for a romantic castle to be used as the couple’s personal retreat. The sturdy structure has gracefully withstood the elements, including an earthquake in 1927.
Boldt Castle, located on Heart Island in upstate New York, was commissioned in 1900 by George C. Boldt, a wealthy hotelier who built the residence as a symbol of his overwhelming love for his wife, Louise. Just four years after construction began, Louise suddenly died. Heartbroken, Boldt halted work on the castle and never returned to the island. The magnificent structure fell into ruin until 1977, when the property was acquired by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, which restored the castle inside and out.
During his 30-year reign over India, Emperor Shah Jahan took many wives, but none was as adored as his third, Arjumand Banu Begum, commonly referred to as Mumtāz Mahal, “beloved ornament of the palace.” When she died in 1631, Jahan enlisted a board of architects to devise the Taj Mahal in her honor. The main complex was completed in 1648, and the surrounding buildings and gardens were finished five years later. The emperor spared no expense for the now iconic monument: More than 20,000 sculptors, calligraphers, and craftsmen were brought to the city of Agra to work on the marble-clad masterpiece.
This far-flung estate in Batu Gajah, Malaysia, was devised as a family home by Scottish-born William Kellie Smith for his wife, Agnes, and their young family. The pair married in the early 1900s and moved to Malaysia, where William owned a plantation, and built a small fortune. Legend has it that Agnes was unhappy with their small wood home; to please his pregnant wife, William decided to erect a hilltop castle, reminiscent of those found in their native country. When he died unexpectedly in 1926, plans for further construction came to a stop and Kellie’s Castle was abandoned.