(Originally published: March 21 2011 | Scoop Factory)

Maybe it’s the dark ‘n’ stormy weather outside, but we just want to bundle up today. That said, why sit around your tiny apartment or overpriced McMansion, when you can set up shop inside your own Starter Castle? Yes, thanks to the worldwide real estate crash, “scores of castles” are now on the market for the same amount “you would pay for a condominium,” says the NY Times. In fact, a “decaying castle” in the former Soviet bloc can be yours for less than $100K, as long as you’re willing to live without a few minor amenities such as, you know, plumbing and electricity.

But why jet-set all the way to Europe when you can strut around your own majestic manor right here in the Valley? Named the Copenhaver Castle (pictured), a local orthodontist spent more than a decade constructing this 7,800-square-foot landmark perched on the south side of Camelback Mountain. Once priced as high as $10M, this 20-room castle boasting towering turrets, a drawbridge, a dungeon and even the stray secret passageway or two, was offered for a mere $3.5M OBO as recently as last February. (We’ve put in a call to the auction company to confirm if the property’s still on the market.)

However, why spend even that paltry amount when you can tour one of the Valley’s other castle oddities for free? Handcrafted over the course of two decades, the Mystery Castle in Phoenix was recently named one of the nation’s Top 10 Weird but Wonderful Homes. Created from a combination of native stone and adobe, this rambling 18-room estate is not technically a castle, but it sure is unique (one widow is built from a car windshield). Call 602-268-1581 to arrange a tour.

Last but not least, have you ever wondered about that pink-hued, wedding-cake like castle just off the 202 Freeway in Phoenix? Well, it’s named the Tovrea Castle and guess what, you already own it. Well technically the City of Phoenix bought the home after it had been all-but abandoned in 1969, when the previous owner died after being shot with her own gun during a bizarre break-in. However, despite the City pouring more than $15M into the property and the surrounding park lands, the property is still not open to the general public. That said, city officials are hoping to get it open in time for AZ’s Centennial Celebration on Feb 14, 2012.

So maybe $100K for that crumbling castle in Eastern Europe really is a bargain after all all.

Image via CW Life