10 Amazing Palaces Around the World

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Palacio Real de Madrid

Palacio Real de Madrid

Photo courtesy of Trioptikmal

Visiting a palace is a great way to see beautiful architecture and ornately-decorated interiors whilst learning more about the history of the places they are located in.

Here, we look at 10 amazing palaces located around the world:

Buckingham Palace

Perhaps the most famous royal residence in the world, Buckingham Palace has served as the official London home for the British monarchy since 1837.

Located in Westminster, the building dates back to 1705 and was first constructed as a townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham. Now the monarch’s current administrative headquarters, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh live here and the building is also used as the venue for numerous royal ceremonies and state visits.

More than 800 members of staff are based at Buckingham Palace, ranging from catering workers to clockmakers.

Consisting of 775 rooms, it is possible to go on a tour of selected parts of the palace during August and September. Here, you can take in the 19 staterooms, which contain a selection of fine English and French furniture, as well as works of art from the likes of Rembrandt and Vermeers.

Blenheim Palace

Buckingham Palace isn’t the only famous palace that you can visit in the UK; Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is another must-see residence.

Built in the 18th century to commemorate Britain’s victory over the French in the Wars of the Spanish Succession, the building was given as a gift by Queen Anne to John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, who led the Allied forces to victory in Blindheim, Germany in 1704.

To this day, the stately home has stayed within the family, with the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough currently residing there.

However, Blenheim Palace is perhaps most well-known for being the birthplace of Winston Churchill in November 1874. You can learn more about the life of the politician by visiting the Churchill Exhibition, which contains several of his letters and photographs of him as a child taken at the residence.

Situated in 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland, the baroque palace and its surrounding grounds are home to several manicured gardens and the second largest symbolic hedge maze in the world. Go on a tour of the staterooms and you can see beautiful tapestries and portraits.

Palace of Versailles

The origins of the Palace of Versailles date back to the 11th century; however, work on the property you see today began in earnest in 1624 when French king Louis XIII ordered a hunting lodge to be built on the site.

Expanded by his successor Louis XIV, the palace became the home of the national French government and courts in 1682 and served as the official residence for three kings.

Although France no longer has a monarchy, a visit to the palace today allows you to visit the Museum of the History of France, home to works by artists such as Eugene Delacroix and Pierre Mignard.

With some 700 rooms, there’s certainly plenty of space to explore. However, the War Salon is possibly one of the most intriguing, with the walls here covered by marble panels and decorated with trophies and gilded bronze carvings.

Tokyo Imperial Palace

The main residence of the Japanese Emperor, the Tokyo Imperial Palace is situated in the heart of the country’s capital in the Chiyoda district.

However, despite being in the middle of the bustling city, the palace, which was built in 1868, is something of a tranquil paradise and surrounded by a water-filled moat and tree-covered grounds.

You can walk through the palace’s two gardens, Kokyo Gaien and Kokyo Higashi Gyoen, and landscaped park for free. Here, you’ll be able to observe cherry blossoms and beautiful seasonal flowers, such as azaleas and hydrangeas.

Take a tour of the Sannomaru-Shozo-kan museum found in the palace grounds and you can see some of the Emperor’s fantastic art collection, including kimonos and paintings.

Winter Palace

The Winter Palace in St Petersburg has 1,057 halls and rooms and with many of these open to the public, there’s lots for you to see when taking a tour of the Russian residence.

Construction of the palace took just eight years, but while it was originally built for Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, she died before it was completed in 1762.

After that it served as the main home for the Russian tsars and although it is no longer used as a residence it still draws millions of visitors, many of whom mainly go to see the Hermitage Museum that was founded here in 1764.

Now the largest art gallery in Russia, it contains some 2.7 million exhibits and includes items by Vincent van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci, among others.

Dolmabahce Palace

Built in 1844, Istanbul’s Dolmabahce Palace took nine years to create, with 14 tonnes of gold and six tonnes of silver said to be used in the building process.

Commissioned by Sultan Abdulmecid II, the palace contains some 300 rooms and six traditional Turkish baths. It is also home to the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world, with the fitting in the centre hall containing 750 lights and weighing 4.5 tonnes.

Used as the main administrative centre for the Ottoman Empire between 1856 and 1922, parts of the palace are now open for public tours.

Schonbrunn Palace

Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna dates back to the 14th century, during which time it was part of the Klosterneuburg monastery.

Since then, it has changed ownership on several occasions until it came under the possession of the Austrian royal family in the early 17th century. It has also undergone significant expansion, with the world’s first zoo built in the palace’s ground in 1752.

Although the monarchy still live in parts of the palace, you can go on guided tours through a number of state rooms, as well as wander through the baroque gardens.

Forbidden City

Beijing’s Forbidden City served as the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing dynasties from the 15th to 20th centuries and for some 500 years it was not only the official residence of the Chinese emperor but also the base for the country’s government.

Constructed in 1420, the initial palace complex took 14 years to complete. However, it significantly expanded over the years and is now home to an estimated 980 buildings, which consist of 8,700 rooms.

No longer used as a royal residence, the Forbidden City contains the Palace Museum, which houses more than one million works of art, and is listed by UNESCO as having the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

Palacio Real de Madrid

Although the Palacio Real de Madrid is the designated official residence of the Spanish monarchy, the current royal family only use it to hold state ceremonies in Madrid.

As such, you are able to see much of the structure by taking a guided tour, with works by artists such as Francisco de Goya and Diego Velazquez among those located here.

Taking 17 years to build and completed in 1755, the Palacio Real de Madrid contains some 2,800 rooms and is one of the largest palaces in the world.

Royal Palace of Stockholm

As the official residence of the Swedish monarchy, the Royal Palace of Stockholm is not just a popular tourist attraction but is also the venue for most of the royal family’s functions and home of the Royal Court.

The building you see today was designed in the baroque style by architect Nicodemus Tessin and consists of more than 600 rooms, although it is thought a fortress existed on the site as long ago as the tenth century.

Go on a guided tour of the palace and you can take in the magnificent staterooms that are used for royal receptions, while the Bernadotte Library contains the royal book collection, which consists of around 100,000 publications.

Visiting any of the amazing palaces above is sure to make for a memorable experience, where you’ll be able to have fun and learn something at the same time.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Laura

    February 27, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    I love visiting palaces and castles. They are a great way to add color to an otherwise normal life :) 5 visited, 5 to go!

    • Ryan

      February 27, 2012 at 4:05 PM

      Thanks Laura, keep up the good work and you’ll get all 10 in no time!

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