The Apostolic Palace: Inside Pope Benedict's Summer Home at Castel Gandolfo

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Pope Benedict home, Castel Gandolfo

Pope Benedict XVI's resignation became official Thursday, and he's already settling in at his temporary post-Vatican home, Reuters reported. He's getting cozy at the pope's summer home in Castel Gandolfo, a small town of 8,000 residents south of Rome. He'll stay at the Apostolic Palace, which has been the vacation home for sitting popes for nearly 400 years. Benedict will be there for a few weeks while the renovation of his permanent home, the Mater Ecclesiae just outside the Vatican, is completed.

Pope BenedictThe Apostolic Palace is a grand complex that beats the size of Vatican City by 400,000 square feet. (Hmm, does this jibe with Benedict's final message to the faithful, in which he called himself a "simple pilgrim"?) It has gorgeous landscaped gardens, natural conservatories, museums and fishponds. More than half of the estate is comprised of the gardens, which is where popes are known to spend a lot of time reflecting. There are also 25 cattle on the premises, said to produce the best milk that you can find in Europe. It's also home to the Vatican Observatory.

Benedict should feel right at home: Records show that he has spent about five weeks a year at the Apostolic Palace since becoming pope in 2005, NBC News reported.

Though popes have been using the gigantic home as a getaway for centuries, the Vatican didn't formally take control of Castel Gandolfo until 1929. The deal was done as part of the Lateran Treaty, which cemented relations between Italy and Vatican City. So, wanna see how Benedict is living for the next few weeks? NBC News took a tour, which you can see in the video below.



See also: Convent of Mater Ecclesiae: Pope Benedict's Home After Stepping Down (VIDEO)
'World's Tallest Treehouse' Grew From a Divine Vision

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The Apostolic Palace: Inside Pope Benedict's Summer Home at Castel Gandolfo

There are a lot of offbeat conversions out there, but churches? Those might take the cake. (Except for maybe a nuclear plant turned amusement park.) 

Church conversions are still an intriguing thing -- we swear to God -- and, what's more, they also seem to be unusually affordable. What better time to view them than Easter. 

Click through our gallery to see some of the most hallowed real estate on the market. 

Location: Seattle 
Price: $789,000
Beds/Baths: 6/3.5
Sq. Ft.: 6,300

You could call this luxury church conversion: It's got a price tag that dwarfs some of our other picks. "The Big House in Ballard" was built in 1907, and thanks to its revamped interior, now offers six bedrooms. 

See the listing, or watch Zillow's video house tour of the place

The home also serves as a venue for art, music and event "happenings," the listing says. The facade recently had a "Gothic Crow" window installed, which weighs a whopping 2,000 pounds.

See the listing, or watch Zillow's video house tour of the place

Just beyond double doors in the structure's tower awaits an expansive sanctuary. The former baptismal? It was converted into a bathroom.

See the listing, or watch Zillow's video house tour of the place

The pastor's office is now a bedroom, and there's an apartment on the property that brings in high rent, the listing says. At the top of the tower is a crow's nest, putting you just a little closer to the Big Guy Upstairs. 

See the listing, or watch Zillow's video house tour of the place

Boasting a handsome brick facade this 19th century church is now a single family loft, with its own kitchen. 

Visit Inhabitat.com to learn more about the place

The cavernous interior has soaring ceilings that reach 40 feet. There are two oak staircases that put you on the second floor, in reach of the two-story bell tower. 

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The first floor has three bedrooms, and there's a "dining nook" occupying the space where the altar used to stand. 

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Stained-glass windows flood the home with natural light, giving its hardwood floors, an -- you could say -- ethereal glow. 

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Location: Dresden, Tenn. 
Price: $39,900
Beds/Baths: 5/3
Sq. Ft.: 3,902

This Southern church may come off as a bit more modest than some other places of worship-turned-homes in our gallery, but you can't beat the price. $39,900 is already ultra-cheap for a home, but here we're talking 5 acres of property and 3,902 square feet of interior space. 

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Some of home's original holy trappings are still clearly visible. Pictured here is what appears to be the church's pulpit. 

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The home received additions in the 1950s. The home's kitchen, unlike some other parts of the place, conceals the structure's original purpose.   

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Location: Bellevue, Ky. 
Price: $219,500
Beds/Baths: 2/2
Sq Ft: N/A

This striking former church is listed for $219,500. The building houses loft condos and has an enormous stained-glass window. 

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Many of the interior flourishes are a century old, but still appear to be in good condition, like this stained-glass window.

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In an unlikely design trope, the home's interior is, well, hip. The most notable detail to earn that designation? An iPod in-wall music system. 

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Location: Pacific, Mo. 
Price: $174,000
Beds/Baths: 3/2
Sq. Ft.: 3,800

The seller of this home apparently had to cut short his efforts to transform the 125-year-old building into a full-blown residence. The owner got about halfway there, according to MLS.  

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The home offers arched doorways, stained glass, elaborate fixtures and custom woodwork. A wide staircase leads to a space that the seller intended to convert into a master suite. 

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There's a kitchen, an airy foyer, and the great room has two-story high, vaulted ceilings, church-style. The property also has its own fishpond. 


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Location: Bessemer, Mich. 
Price: $68,000
Beds/Baths: 6 units
Sq. Ft.: 3,600

Perhaps our most residential-looking conversion, this former church now houses four apartment units, as well as a duplex. $68,000 brings you six units in all, making the place seem like a heck of an investment opportunity. 

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Location: Britt, Iowa
Price: $39,500
Beds/Baths: 5/2
Sq. Ft.: 4,071

Built in 1900, this repurposed church offers five bedrooms, and has functioned as a home for a while. 

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The exterior makes the building's former purpose quite obvious, but its interior could have you fooled because of an extensive makeover. 

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Location: Flaxton, N.D.
Price: $29,900
Beds/Baths: 0/1
Sq. Ft.: N/A

What's with churches, and being ridiculously cheap? Apparently, for $29,900, you can snag a bona fide cathedral. You're only working with one bathroom though, so the buyer should be prepared to spend some coin on renovations. 

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There are the characteristic vaulted ceilings, and lots and lots of space. Particle board could come in handy in the early stages of an overhaul. 

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This tidy, repurposed church looks almost like a cottage, with its white picket fence and well-kept yard. 

Read Zillow's profile on the home to learn more

The home's highlight may be its expansive living room, flooded by natural light from arched windows. 

Read Zillow's profile on the home to learn more

Get this: the reason why the interior is so snappy is that the former owners, who originally used the place as a wedding chapel, spent $500,000 over four years to convert it into a home. The kitchen features granite countertops and custom cabinetry. 

Read Zillow's profile on the home to learn more

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