Once the homes of kings and emperors, now popular tourist attractions. A list of some of the most beautiful palaces in the world.
10. Pena National Palace[SEE MAP]
Built in 1842 by King Ferdinand II, the Pena National Palace in Portugal is the oldest European castle in the Romanticism style. The palace was constructed on the ruins of a monastery severely damaged in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Today, with it original colors of red and yellow restored, the Pena National Palace is one of Portugal’s most visited monuments.
9. Mysore Palace[SEE MAP]
Commonly described as the City of Palaces, Mysore in India has a number of historic palaces of which Mysore Palace is the most famous one. The palace was commissioned in 1897 after the old palace was destroyed in a fire during a wedding, and its construction was completed in 1912. 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. Schonbrunn Palace[SEE MAP]
The 1,441 room Schönbrunn Palace, comparable in grandeur to Versailles, is one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. The palace was built between 1696 and 1712 at the request of Emperor Leopold I and turned into the imperial summer palace by Maria Theresa. The Palace Park offers a lot of attractions, such as the Privy Garden, the oldest zoo in the world, a maze and labyrinth, and the Gloriette (a marble summerhouse) situated on top of a 60 meter high hill.
7. Summer Palace[SEE MAP]
The Summer Palace is located 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing and is mainly dominated by the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. As its name implies, the Summer Palace was used as a summer residence by China’s imperial rulers – as a retreat from the ‘Forbidden City’. The gardens were substantially extended in 1750, reproducing the styles of various palaces and gardens from around China. Kunming Lake was extended to imitate the West Lake in HangZhou.
6. Topkapi Palace[SEE MAP]
When Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror took Constantinople in 1453, he first ordered the construction of a new residence. This was to become the palace later known as Topkapi. The palace would remain the imperial enclave of the Ottoman sultans for 4 centuries, from 1465 to 1853. Over the years the palace complex underwent constant modifications. Today the complex is made up of four main courtyards of increasing grandeur and many smaller buildings.
5. Chateau de Chambord[SEE MAP]
This second most visited château in France (after Versailles), is a masterpiece of the French Renaissance. Chateau de Chambord features 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. Construction of the chateau started in 1519 by King François I so he could hunt in the nearby forests. The cold and massive rooms of the Château made it unpopular as an actual residence and François I himself stayed here for less than 40 days in total.
4. Palace of Versailles[SEE MAP]
Versailles was originally a hunting lodge, built in 1624 by Louis XIII. His successor, Louis XIV, expanded the site into one of the largest palaces in the world, and from 1682, used it to control France by absolute rule. The Palace of Versailles remained the official residence of the Kings of France until October 1789 when the royal family was forced to return to Paris during the French Revolution.
3. Alhambra[SEE MAP]
Part fortress, part palace and part garden the Alhambra is situated on a plateau overlooking the city of Granada in southern Spain. The palace was constructed during the mid 14th century by the Nasrid sultans and is a testament to the skill of Muslim craftsmen of that time. The Alhambra is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions and many visitors come to Granada just to see the Alhambra.
2. Potala Palace[SEE MAP]
Situated on Marpo Ri hill, 130 meters above the Lhasa valley, the Potala Palace rises a further 170 meters and is the greatest monumental structure in all of Tibet. Although a palace was already built here in the 7th century the construction of the present palace began in 1645 during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama and by 1648 the Potrang Karpo, or White Palace, was completed. The Potrang Marpo, or Red Palace, was added between 1690 and 1694. The Potala Palace remained the residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India, after the Chinese invasion in 1959.
1. Forbidden City[SEE MAP]
Located in the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City is the world’s largest palace complex covering 72 hectares. Built from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 rooms surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall . The distance between the Tiananmen Gate and the Gate of Divine Might is 960 meters. Twenty-four emperors reigned over the country for almost 5 centuries from the Forbidden City until the abdication of Puyi, the last Emperor of China.