THE enclave of Zagaleta has often been described as ‘southern Europe’s most exclusive place to live’.

And when you count on the celebrities, captains of industry and, now, the global dictators who stalk its privileged spaces, that’s no surprise.

The multi-million price tags certainly follow suit, as does its incredible golf course, which has just a few hundred people allowed to play… and then there’s its intriguing recent links to Russian dictator Vladamir Putin, who owns a property there.

The giant 2000 sqm palace, known as the Rock of the King (or Roca del Rey) counts on its own private vineyard, helicopter pad and bowling alley.

But it’s the three floors underground that has got eyebrows raised among Europe’s security and defence elite.

As revealed by the Olive Press last month, it counts on armed guards and has a deep bunker monitoring the Straits of Gibraltar 24/7. And this in a gated community that claims that security is ‘its number one priority’.

Indeed, security is of so much importance that after a late-night incident last year, an Israeli company was commissioned to build a new ‘high tech electric’ fence.

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You can buy this property for just €12.7 million. Photo: REAS Real Estate

Expected to become the most expensive in Spain, it will run around the 900-hectare estate that sits in Benahavis, between Marbella and the foothills of the Serrania de Ronda.

“The residents are being charged 5,000 euros each in two installments to help pay for it,” reveals a source. “They are not exactly happy about it.”

It comes after Head of security Jose Miguel Navarro boasted last year that his team have a ‘maximum response time of three minutes to any alert’.

“Our perimeter shielding, detection systems and security routines will thwart most attempts to attack properties, which explains why the incident rate is 100 times lower than in other residential complexes,” he claimed.

The estate was originally called ‘La Baraka’ and owned by disgraced billionaire Saudi arms dealer, Adnan Khashoggi, who was said to have held some of the world’s most debauched parties at the hunting lodge in the 1970s.

Today it is the clubhouse of the resort, which was acquired by a group of investors in 1989 led by Andalucian banker, Enrique Perez Flores, who came from Huelva.

The giant estate was then divided into approximately 420 plots, of which around 240 homes have so far been built.

“Most homes go for around 7 to 8 million euros,” explains one British agent, who has sold a number of properties there over the last year. “And some have even doubled in price over the last few years.”

All surrounded by deep woodland, they have either sea or mountain views (or both), while there is also a private equestrian center and golf course, with a second one on the way.

The amazing course, said to be one of the best in Spain, only counts on 250 members, which is because only homeowners can join.

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Another of La Zagaleta’s luxury properties. Photo: REAS Real Estate

“The price for membership alone is 120,000 euros and then it’s 10,000 a year for the lead member and 7,000 for the second member of the family,” adds the agent.

“It’s real royal golf and the attitudes of the locals are to match,” he continued. “It’s ultra exclusive and so snobby, way more than the Chelsea or Cheshire set. 

“Owners put 10,000 euros behind the club bar so they can always get a drink or cigar when they want and the place is literally crawling with Aston Martins, and DB4s and McClarens.”

Thesedays, the company behind Zagaleta is run by Ignacio Perez Diaz, after his father died two years ago.

According to its last available accounts in 2019, its immediate holding company Zagaleta International UK Inc is based in Panama, while two other entities, Soto Properties SA and Campo Alto SA, are based in Switzerland.

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