It all started when I was 12. I was skinny, awkward, and had just gotten braces to fix the massive gap in between my two front teeth. It was only a matter of time before I was fitted for glasses and went spiraling, out of control, into full-fledged nerd-dom.
To many, my story may seem familiar. It started with a little Harry Potter here and there—maybe for a few minutes before class, in the evenings before bed. But then in December of 1998 something harder hit the streets—the “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.”
Obviously a lot has changed in the 15 years since “Ocarina of Time” came out—I think I might just be on the verge of outgrowing my awkward phase. But in all these years my love for Zelda and all things fantasy has remained the same.
That’s why when Movoto asked me to write up a post evaluating the value of Hyrule Castle from this particular version of the game, I said “SHWEET” and eagerly got to work.
And what did I find? If the Hyrule Castle from “Ocarina of Time” was placed on the market today it would cost an absolutely absurd $113,807,400 (that’s about 569,037* big red rupees.) Now I didn’t just pull this number out of my Bomb Bag; like any good Zeldaholic, I traversed the world of Hyrule via forums and research to find the answer. Read on to find out how I got there.
The Masterkey to Finding Hyrule Castle’s Price
- The Location
- The Size
- Comparable Properties
In order to find out where Hyrule Castle would be in real life, the first obvious step was to figure out where the land of Hyrule would be in the first place. To do this, I turned to a familiar tool to any Zelda fan: The Hyrule World Atlas. There are several major areas of the land of Hyrule: there are the Lost Woods with Kokiri Forest and the Deku Tree in the East; to the North there is Zora’s River, Kakariko Village, the mountains with Goron City, and the temperamental volcano. To the south there is Lake Hylia, the famous fishing lake of Hyrule; to the west is the desert and Gerudo’s Fortress; in the center is Lon Lon Ranch surrounded by a great, grassy field, and north of it all, is Hyrule Village with the market and the castle.
Now if you think it is impossible to find all of these different types of terrain within one relatively small area, well, you’re right. But I came pretty close, and the result might surprise you.
The land of Hyrule is… Tuscany, Italy—specifically circa the year 1400.
Let me explain.
The Gerudo Desert: This was one of the tricky parts. Sure it was easy to find places with forests, fields, and even mountains—but to throw a desert in there? C’mon, geography! But in Tuscany, Italy there is the Accona Desert. In fact, it even lies to the west, much like Gerudo in the game.
The Volcano: Now this was another reason Hyrule had to be Tuscany: Larderello Volcano. Surrounding Larderello volcano is the village of Larderello, aka Kakariko Village from the game. And surrounding the village, mountainous terrain where if you look hard enough, you’ll probably find some Gorons wandering around.
The Lost Woods/Kokiri Forest: Berignone Forest, one of the largest forests and today, natural reserves in Tuscany.
Lake Hylia: Lake Montedoglio is nestled in the Province of Arezzo in Tuscany. This lake has been well-known for its fishing for years and years. (But sorry, I couldn’t find a real-life tunnel to Zora’s Domain.)
Lon Lon Ranch and surrounding field: The closest I found to Lon Lon Ranch was Podere Palazzone, a famous horse ranch in Tuscany. It is surrounded by miles and miles of green grassland, perfect for Epona to stretch her legs.
Hyrule Village/Market/Castle: Finally, the reason we’re all here: The castle. I thought since Hyrule Village is the capital city of the land of Hyrule in the game, it would only do to equate it to the capital of Tuscany: Florence. The Market in the game is the city of Florence, similar to how it actually was around 1400—merchants, mask shops, potions, painters, a large cathedral (the Duomo around 1400 was not the elaborate marble and colorful masterpiece that we see today; it was grey, tall, and austere—much like the Temple of Time.)
And if I haven’t already out-nerded myself, one final reason the land of Hyrule must be Tuscany, Italy: The ocarina. The first use of the ocarina in western civilization was in Italy centuries ago.
How Big Is It?
So now that I knew where Hyrule Castle would be—in or near Florence—I had to figure out just how big it would be, in order to find the prices of similarly sized houses (or castles) in the area.
Now this was no Zelda’s Lullaby. I mean, it was harder than I expected.
On the “Ocarina of Time” map, Hyrule Castle looks gigantic—it is almost the size of the volcano near Kakariko Village (but we all know how those Renaissance artists used scale!). So, I ended up ditching the map and measuring the castle’s size from Link’s point of view.
I used this picture to get a pretty good idea of the scale of the castle as compared to one of the guards. A little fun fact: the average shoulder width of a man who does not work out regularly is 18 inches. So I assumed this guard was athletic (he needs to be buff to protect the princess), and he is wearing armor. From shoulder to shoulder, I thought he’d be about 21 inches.
So I used him as my unit of measurement. I counted that it would take approximately 120 of such a guard to make a line, shoulder to shoulder, along the front of the castle. So that’s 21 inches x 120 = 2,520. To get the feet, I took this, divided it by 12 and got 210 feet for the front of the castle.
To get the measurement of the castle’s depth, it was a little trickier, as there were no guard units of measurement standing around. But when Link goes around the corner of the castle, we see that the front is much wider than its depth—it is only about 3/4 as deep as it is wide.
Three quarters of 210 is about 158. So the castle is about 210 feet by 158 feet for the first and widest floor, or about 33,180 square feet.
So now that I had the square feet of the first floor, I needed to approximate the square feet of the second floor and the tower. This was where friends and a calculator came in handy (numbers and I go together about as well as Link and Princess Ruto. Ugh.) So we guessed that the second floor was about half the size of the first floor—that’s 16,590 square feet—but it is also two stories tall—so 16,590 x 2 = 33,180 square feet again. For the tower, we guessed that it was only about a quarter the size of the second floor—so 16,590 divided by 4 is 4,147—but also about 4 stories tall—so that’s 16,590 square feet for the tower.
Adding the square feet up, the widest first floor, the second floor, and the tower, you get a whopping 82,950 square feet—so, much larger than it looks from the outside. To put this into perspective, let’s compare this to another fantastical castle: Howl’s Moving Castle. This moving wonder is only 25,250 square feet—about 3 times smaller than Zelda’s pad.
A Real Life Castle Fit for a Princess
The final step in determining the cost was to find similar properties in the Florence area. Sure, Hyrule Castle is technically Princess Zelda’s home, but this isn’t exactly your standard condo or suburban ranch—it’s a Florentine castle circa 1400.
So I did the only thing I could think of: I found an actual castle, over 1,000 years old, for sale just outside of Florence. Really, if you want to buy it, you can check it out here. This castle is 1,400 square meters, or about 15,070 square feet. It costs 16,000,000 euros, or $20,880,000. However, and this was tricky, the castle is also surrounded by eight hectares of land. I found that the going rate for land in that area of Tuscany is about 20,000 euros ($26,100) per hectare, so let’s knock off about $208,000 from the price. That’s $20,672,000 for the house, divided by 15,070 square feet and you get…
The absolutely insane price of $1,372 per square foot.
So How Much for that Castle in the Window?
Finally, once I found the total size of Hyrule Castle (82,950 sq. ft.) and the cost per square foot of similar castles in the area ($1,372), I was able to estimate the total price. Hyrule Castle, should you want to buy it, will only set you back a mere $113,807,400. And that’s not even including the surrounding land, the cost to keep the staff, the guards, not to mention Princess Zelda herself—her dowry alone is probably at least 75,000 huge gold rupees*.
*In “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” both the Big Red and Huge Gold Rupees are worth 200 rupees. The forums all seem to agree that the dollar to rupee conversion, while varying wildly from item to item, is usually about 1-1.5:1. So one rupee is about $1.