LOOKING for a castle? He’s got a few. Looking for a palace? That’s easy. Want a vineyard or an olive estate? What grape or olive variety do you prefer?
Welcome to the wonderful world of Oscar Ernstsen at Villas & Fincas, Andalucia’s most travelled estate agent.
While most Costa del Sol agents spend the majority of their time, scouring the many urbanisations between Mijas and Marbella, this Dutchman looks inland.
Aside from a series of charming country properties near Estepona and Casares, where he is based, his beat is very much rustic dreams.
But not of your ordinary kind.
Take a look around his company’s recently-relaunched website and you will find dozens of Andalucia’s most stunning estates.
Scattered across seven provinces of Andalucia, they include equestrian properties, with vineyards, fortresses, with 12-foot high walls and 20-bed cortijos with Roman foundations.
“I cover almost all of the region and as a rule of thumb, they have to be between a three and four hour drive from my office for me to consider them,” he explains.
“And something three-and-a-half hours away will have to be something pretty nice.”
He particularly likes the Aracena region, of Huelva, with its rolling countryside, as well as the Natural Park of the Sierra Norte de Sevilla, which butts onto Extremadura.
“I have just sold a wonderful olive estate to an American couple from New York there, as well as a vineyard near Ronda. They have all the bases covered,” he explains.
He is a massive fan of the Serrania de Ronda area in general and ‘will never get bored of the amazing drive between Gaucin and Ronda’.
And he also loves the Hornachuelos area, north of Cordoba and the south of Jaen.
“I spend a lot of my week driving around inland Andalucia, which is easily one of the most beautiful areas of the world,” he explains.
“I’ve got to know the region well over the last two decades and there are so many stunning places to live.”
Luckily, his office in Casares is manned around the clock by his wife and business partner Anita and a team of four employees, so he never misses a call, or client.
Currently they have 250 properties on their books, all with exclusive photos and videos on their new website, which has taken a year to create.
“There is something for everyone and if, like me, you appreciate the local Andalucian architecture, you will love having a browse,” he adds.
Here are six picks from his current crop of dream places to buy:
This amazing equestrian property sits in the middle of top class vineyards (near Federico Schatz) in Ronda, with the most amazing views to the Grazalema Natural Park.
I love this historical hacienda with Roman origins, near Antequera. It features some amazing nooks and crannies and plenty of space… and check this amazing archaeological masterpiece from the first century that was found in the grounds.
You will struggle to beat this award-winning restoration project, sitting inside the UNESCO-protected Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural park. It was formerly an ice factory, and later a farm for classic Jamon Iberico…Today it is a rural country hotel. Oh and by the way, Napoleon once stayed here!
Few places can take you back in time like this. Oozing history, it was once a monastery and features incredible arches and some of the nicest original features I have ever come across on my travels. It even has an old bodega and sits near the idyllic mountain village of Cazalla de la Sierra where famous designers Victorio y Lucchino have a home, as well as the daughter of former dictator Franco…
I can only describe this as a ‘masterpiece’ and aside from winning architectural prizes, this fortress, near Alcala del Valle, between Ronda and Olvera, once owned by a Marquez, has Roman origins and a 120,000m2 plot, with its own olive plantation, chapel and no less than 10 bedrooms and nine bathrooms.
This resorted olive mill on the outskirts of one of inland Malaga’s most charming small villages, is a complete bargain. Completely restored, it sits on the edge of the cultured artist village of Genalguacil, just 30 minutes from Estepona and Ronda! With 4 hectares of land providing 1500 kgs of olives and 300 litres of oil, as well as lemons, avocados, oranges and persimmons, it’s the very epitome of the Good Life. And at this price it is an absolute bargain for an artist or writer!