15 of The Most Beautiful Palaces In The World
The times of yesteryear where Kings and Queens would sit on gilded thrones and bestow upon us their commands may be long gone but many of the glorious palaces that they once called home remain intact for us serfs and commoners to wander around and have a sneak peek at.
Here we take an ogling eye to some of the most beautiful castles in the world and wonder why we couldn't have been born into royalty.
15. Pena National Palace - Portugal
The oldest European castle in the Romanticism style, Pena Palace was once a monastery, but when it was severely damaged in the Great Earthquake of Lisbon in 1775, it was no longer fit for purpose.
Eventually, in 1842, King Ferdinand II decided to build a palace in amongst the ruins of the monastery and that is what stands there today, restored to its original colors of bold reds and yellows.
14. Neuschwanstein Castle - Hohenschwangau, Germany
Built for King Ludwig II between 1869 and 1886, this intricately detailed castle was a long-held dream of the Bavarian monarch and was to "embody the true spirit of the medieval German castle" with the leitmotif coming from operas about magical kingdoms and fairy tale beauty. The castle's location, on top of a cliff in the Bavarian mountains, caused many issues during its construction alongside its elaborate design which meant that it took a lot longer than Ludwig was expecting to build. So impatient was the king to see his castle come to fruition that he imposed unreasonable deadlines on the architects and builders who left them working day and night.
Impatient to move in Ludwig took up residence in the gateway building in 1880 with the 'topping off' ceremony for the rest of the castle not completed until 1884. Even after Ludwig's death in 1886, the castle was not completed, and the foundations to the 'keep' can still be seen from the upper courtyard. Parts of the design were later simplified and finished in 1891.
13. National Palace — Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan has a vivid and thrilling historical legacy after its split from mainland China, and this is represented in the near 700,000 works of Chinese art and artifacts that are held in the stunning National Palace. Because of this political split, it shares a history with the Palace museum in Beijing but holds paintings, jades, ceramics, bronzes, rare books, and calligraphy untouched by the cultural revolution that affected much of China's pieces in the 1960s.
Because of this, it brought in 5.4 million visitors in 2014.
12. Peterhof Palace - Russia
A series of stunning palaces and gardens laid out in St. Petersburg, the palace ensembles is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. The concept for the palace first came to Peter the Great around 1705, and it took another 50 years before it was something akin to what it is now but all subsequent Tsars expanded the palace or added features.
Captured by German forces during WWII in 1941, it remained occupied until 1944 and was looted and burned forcing restoration work to begin immediately, much of which continues to this day.
11. Matsumoto Castle - Matsumoto, Japan
Japan may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of castles, but Matsumoto Castle is considered a national treasure by the Japanese and is one of the country's principal castles. Built in the late 16th-century Sengoku period, a time of considerable social upheaval, the castle is distinguishable from many others in the country and across the globe for being a hirajiro, or flatland castle with a series of complex wall systems, gatehouses, and moats as its defenses.
Sometimes known as the 'Crow Castle' due to its piercing, black exterior, its third turret is barely defended as it was built during a time of peace and was mainly used for moon viewing.
10. Buckingham Palace - UK
Originally known as Buckingham House, this remains the official residence and principal workplace of the British Monarch. Built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703, it was acquired by King George III in 1761] as a private residence for Queen Charlotte and was enlarged in the 19th century where several wings were added.
It became the official residence of the Monarchy when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837.
10. Royal Palace of Madrid - Spain
The palace is located on the site of a 9th-century Alcázar ("Muslim-era fortress"), near the town of Magerit, constructed as an outpost by Muhammad I of Córdoba and inherited after 1036 by the independent MoorishTaifa of Toledo. The palace as it currently stands was built between 1738 to 1755 after the old Alcázar burned down.
Although the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family at the city of Madrid, it is only used for state ceremonies.
9. Mysore Palace - India
The city of Mysore is often described as the city of palaces due to the wealth of them it has but Mysore Palace is undoubtedly the most stunning. Commissioned in 1897 and finished in 1912, it is now one of the most famous attractions in India after the Taj Mahal.
During the Dasara festival in the months of September and October, the palace is illuminated with more than 10,000 bulbs, offering a magnificent sight.
8. Schönbrunn Palace - Austria
Comparable to the Palace of Versailles in size and grandeur, Schönbrunn Palace has a whopping 1,441 rooms and was built between 1696 and 1712 at the request of Emperor Leopold I.
Featuring the Privy Garden, the oldest zoo in the world, a maze and labyrinth, and the Gloriette (a marble summer house) situated on top of a 60-meter high hill, the palace is inundated with things to see and do.
7. Summer Palace - China
Dominated by the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake, the Summer Palace was used as a summer residence by China’s imperial rulers and has stunning gardens that recreate different styles of garden from around China.
With halls and pavilions lining the hill, it is a UNESCO world heritage site and was ordered to be built way back in 1153.
6. Topkapi Palace - Turkey
When Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror took Constantinople in 1453, he first ordered the construction of a new residence, and it was here that the Ottoman Empire would be ruled from for four centuries.
Over that time period, the palace underwent constant modifications, and today the complex is made up of four main courtyards of increasing grandeur and many smaller buildings.
5. Chateau de Chambord - France
The second most visited palace in France after Versailles, Chateau de Chambord features 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases and is considered a masterpiece of French Rennaissance architecture and design.
Building work started in 1519 so that King François I so could hunt in the nearby forests, but the rooms were so airy and cold that Francois only ever spent 40 days there in total.
4. Palace of Versailles - France
The Palace of Versailles is one of the world's grandest and most beautiful palaces with a whopping 87, 728,720 square feet of grounds and 721,206 of floor space.
The very name conjures up images of both elegance and hedonism and stirs all sorts of romantic notions. Unsurprisingly then, over 170 films have been set at the grand palace, the majority of which take place during the 17th and 18th centuries when the palace was the principal residence of French Kings.
3. Alhambra, Spain
Constructed during the mid 14th century by the Nasrid sultans, this palace-come-fortress sits high atop the plateau over the city of Granada and has a magnificent garden attached to it.
in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the palaces were partially altered to Renaissance tastes.
2. Potala Palace, Tibet
Considered the world's highest ancient palace as it sits at an altitude of over 12,000 feet above sea level, this magnificent palace was once the residence of the Dalai Lama.
The thin air up there makes the 400 steps up to the palace hard to climb, but the glorious mountain surroundings and stunning architecture are well worth it.
1. Forbidden City - China
The world’s largest palace complex covering 72 hectares, the Forbidden City was built from 1406 to 1420 and the complex consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 rooms surrounded by a six-meter deep moat and a ten-meter high wall.
For five centuries this was the seat of power in China as 24 Emporers lived here until the abdication of Pu-Yi.