Castle Kyalami

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Coordinates: 25°59′53″S 28°3′34″E / 25.99806°S 28.05944°E / -25.99806; 28.05944

Castle Kyalami
Castle Kyalami.jpg
General information
Type Castle
Location Kyalami, Johannesburg, South Africa
Owner Church of Scientology
Technical details
Floor area 64,000 sq ft (5,900 m2)
Design and construction
Architect Demos Dinopoulos

Castle Kyalami (also referred to as Kyalami Castle) is a castle located in Kyalami in the province of Gauteng, north of Johannesburg, South Africa. Formerly a tourist attraction and hotel, the castle was purchased by the Church of Scientology in March 2008.[1]


Castle Kyalami was built in 1992 by Greek millionaire and architect Demos Dinopoulos. Located in the northern Johannesburg suburb of Kyalami, the castle is set on a 22 acres (8.9 ha) estate.[2] The 64,000-square-foot (5,900 m2) castle has an Arthurian style[citation needed], and contains a spa, 24 suites, a luxury hotel, a restaurant, a conference centre and its own helipad.[1][3][4][5]

Dinopoulos lived in this expansive building for only nine years before putting it on auction. It was bought by Planet Hotels and opened as a 4-star hotel in 2001. Dinopoulos originally planned the castle to provide for his extended family, so that when his two daughters and son got married, they would live with their families in the castle. The original castle consisted of the main house, three self-contained apartments, garages, yacht workshop and horse stables, stretching over several acres. The main house has now been converted into 11 en-suite rooms, and the self-contained apartments now consist of 13 en-suite rooms.

Room 11 was originally built for Dinopoulos' son, with a private entrance and a spiral staircase to the kitchen, because, in his father's words, "boys get hungry at night". The hotel's restaurant, The Bastion, was originally a sunken lounge with a full-size billiards table. The lounge was levelled and the room now accommodates 120 guests. What was originally the entertainment room of the Dinopoulos family has been converted into the wine cellar of the hotel. It now accommodates 20 people as an intimate dinner venue, with its own private entrance. The original sauna and jacuzzi in a turret have remained, alongside a swimming pool and clay tennis court. The 22-horse stables have been converted into a 500-person conference centre, with a state-of-the-art kitchen attached. The original garage and yacht workshop have been converted into The Bailey conference facility. Dinopoulos actually completed his yacht in the workshop, and sailed to the south of Spain, where he remains still, because his children grew up and left home.

In the guidebook Lonely Planet: South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, Fitzpatrick et al. describe the "mock castle" as "one of Jo'burg's true oddities".[3] When the castle was still a tourist attraction, Abigail Wills of the publication Conference & Incentive Travel recommended it for those visiting the area: "Former private residences such as Ballito Manor, 50 km from Durban, The Castle in Kyalami and the Saxon in Johannesburg are ideal for exclusive use."[4]

The castle was the site of the "Ika East Meets Africa" fashion show on 13 August 2003,[6] and has been used in the past for business conferences.[7][8] Prior to being purchased by the Church of Scientology the castle functioned as a hotel,[9] and as of July 2006 the castle was the flagship for Planet Hotels.[10]

Purchased by Church of Scientology[edit]

In March 2008, the castle was purchased by the Church of Scientology for an undisclosed amount.[1] Paul Sondergaard, National Director of the Church of Scientology's Public Affairs Office, stated that the grounds will serve as a Scientology retreat: "We were looking for a building big enough for these purposes, that had some character and was out of the city rush".[1] In a Scientology press release, Sondergaard also said that Scientologists would conduct advanced spiritual training at the castle: "For all African Scientologists, this is a dream finally come true ... It means a lot to the future expansion of the Church in Africa."[11]

The purchase was part of an expansion into South Africa by the Church of Scientology, which purchased buildings in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Pretoria around the same time.[12] The Castle Kyalami is the Church of Scientology's 66th global acquisition to their international property holdings.[13] According to Scopical, "It is believed that the new property will be used as a central base for the organisation's expansion in Africa."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Gerardy, Justine (March 15, 2008). "Scientologists buy Kyalami Castle". The Saturday Star. South Africa. p. 2. 
  2. ^ Staff (16 March 2007). "South Africa: Get Away From It All". AllAfrica. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  3. ^ a b Fitzpatrick, Mary; Becca Blond; Gemma Pitcher; Simon Richmond; Matt Warren (15 November 2004). Lonely Planet: South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Lonely Planet Publications. p. 386. ISBN 1-74104-162-7. 
  4. ^ a b Wills, Abigail (4 December 2002). "South Africa - Incentives: The African Experience - As well as aspirational options such as safaris, ground operators are offering groups a taste of the 'real' Africa, as Abigail Wills discovers". Conference & Incentive Travel. Brand Republic: Haymarket Media. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  5. ^ Shah, Neel (25 March 2008). "Scientology Sets Sights on African Expansion". Radar Online. Radar Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  6. ^ ANTARA, The Indonesian National News Agency (August 8, 2003). "Mardiana Ika Brings Indonesian Fashion to Johannesburg". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. 
  7. ^ Staff (April 19, 2007). "Chris Sweeney: Managing executive, Absa Card". Moneyweb Power Hour. Moneyweb Holdings Limited. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  8. ^ South African Press Association (29 March 2004). "Private Doctors to Assist With HIV/AIDS Treatment". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. 
  9. ^ Staff (25 October 2007). "A celebrity chef for every culinary fancy". The Star (South Africa). p. 17. 
  10. ^ Staff (14 July 2006). "Exploitation dressed up as entrepreneurship". The Star (South Africa). p. 2. 
  11. ^ Church of Scientology (March 26, 2008). "Church nationwide expansion gains significant expression: Church of Scientology Nets Famous Joburg Landmark - Kyalami Castle". Press Release. Archived from the original on 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  12. ^ Staff (March 16, 2008). "Church of Scientology buys Kyalami Castle". The Weekend Argus (South Africa). p. 12. 
  13. ^ a b (March 26, 2008). "Scientology adds African castle to property list". Scopical. Scopical Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on March 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 

External links[edit]