Majestic and inaccessible, romantic and harsh, famous for legends and secrets, old palaces are the most popular tourist attraction in many countries of the world.
These silent witnesses of historical events and dramas are still mesmerizing with just one sight.
A considerable number of real masterpieces of architecture remain in the modern world, they amaze with their beauty and grace. That's why tourists from different parts of the world travel to these places in order to admire the buildings in which history was made.
And if in the Middle Ages the entrance to the royal palace was impossible for average men, now anyone can visit the home of kings, emperors or archbishops, simply by buying an entrance ticket.
We offer TOP-10 of the most beautiful palaces in the world:
Palace of Versailles (Versailles - France)
The Versailles Palace is the residence of the French kings, which was built in the suburbs of Paris, the city of Versailles, in the 17th century.
It is one of the most popular attractions not only in France but also in the whole world, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Palace of Versailles is a manifestation of Louis XIV's envy of a stranger. Seeing the possessions of his Minister of Finance, the king was terribly offended and decided that he urgently needed a palace much larger than that of his subordinate. Engaging for this purpose the same craftsmen who erected the minister's mansion, Louis set the task of building something a hundred times better.
The king was not able to see his brainchild fully completed, since he died in 1715. By that time, the work had been going on for over 50 years. The construction site employed 30 thousand people. At the same time, despite the serious savings (the king demanded that materials be purchased at the lowest prices), Versailles cost the treasury 25 million lire (260 billion euros)!
It is worth noting that in the 20th century after World War II, the damaged and desolate Versailles was rebuilt with money collected from all over France. For certain advertising, all meetings between the heads of states were held here up to the 90s.
Now the Palace of Versailles is financially and legally autonomous, and 5 million people who annually visit this French landmark bring profit to the place.
Palazzo Pitti (Florence - Italy)
Palazzo Pitti is the largest building in Florence.
Over its centuries-old history, it has changed several owners, but it is still named after its first owner - a wealthy banker Luca Pitti. The largest private palace of the Quattrocento era in Florence is located on the left bank of the Arno River.
The reason for the appearance of a grandiose building in the city was the rivalry between two influential Florentine bankers - Luca Pitti and Cosimo de' Medici. Each of the former friends tried in every convenient way to prove their superiority and nobility, including the construction of massive family palaces and villas, patronage and collecting works of art.
At one time, the Palazzo was the residence of the great dukes, representatives of the imperial, and then the royal family. Today it houses several museums and galleries, open to the public all year round. The architectural and historical site, which is one of the largest museum complexes in Italy, is included in the list of major tourist attractions in Florence.
Alhambra (Granada - Spain)
This splendor is difficult to describe in a few words.
The Alhambra is a palace, a castle, a summer residence, and a closed city all rolled into one. The complex was built in the XIII - XIV centuries as a residence for the Nasrid dynasty in the last decades of Muslim rule in Andalusia. The architectural ensemble of the Alhambra includes palaces, mosques, gardens, artificial reservoirs, residential and administrative buildings.
Spread out on top of a hill called La Sabica, the Alhambra is like the scenery for a fairy tale. From the outside it seems that its red walls and towers simply grow out of thickets of cypresses and elms against the magnificent backdrop of the Sierra Nevada.
In the 18th century, the Alhambra was a place for beggars and thieves. During the Napoleonic occupation, the palace was used as a barracks and was nearly blown up. In 1870, it was declared a national monument and attracted great interest from romantic writers, notably Washington Irving, who wrote a collection of stories Tales of the Alhambra, during a short stay at the Nasrid Palace in the 1820s. From this moment on, the Alhambra has been radically restored. Together with the Generalife and Albaycín gardens, the palace now has the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Windsor Palace (Berkshire - UK)
Windsor Palace is the most beautiful and largest castle in Great Britain, owned by the royal family and is their country residence.
It is located in Windsor, Berkshire, 43 km from London. The residence is an architectural gem and a concentration of cultural values in Great Britain. Along with Buckingham Palace, Windsor Palace is one of the most visited attractions in Albion.
The residence began its history under William the Conqueror in 1066. Then Windsor Palace was located in the hunting grounds and looked like a wooden structure. His goal was to keep watch on one of the roads in the direction of London. For 100 years, the building was redeveloped and reconstructed. The most significant changes occurred during the reign of Henry II of England. During his reign, the first stone walls were erected. After that, each ruler necessarily made his own edits to the appearance of the building.
On November 20, 1992, a fire broke out at Windsor Palace. The fire was first in the chapel, then quickly spread throughout the residence, it could not be extinguished for 15 hours. By the way, on this day, the royal couple celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. As a result of the fire, an area of 9000 m2 was damaged.
For the restoration of Windsor, it was decided to open Buckingham Palace for tourists, so all the proceeds from the tickets went to repairs. The work was carried out for five years, during which time half of the damaged rooms were restored - some of them were returned to their previous appearance, and some received a new look, but in accordance with the general style. This event was the largest restoration in the history of Windsor Palace.
Today, Windsor Palace is used for various government events. Every year the Queen comes here for a month after Easter. At this time, she receives guests, public and political figures.
Neuschwanstein Palace (Schwangau, Germany)
On September 5, 1869, the foundation stone of Bavaria Neuschwanstein - one of the royal residences, which later became one of the most important sights of Germany.
The customers were the Bavarian king Ludwig II, and the Virgin Mary and the French king Louis IX were proclaimed the patron saints of the construction site.
The building is an extreme manifestation of the eclecticism of the era of historicism. It attracts and repels at the same time. As if soaring over inaccessible mountains, Neuschwanstein simply enchants from the first second of acquaintance.
We must say that the palace was not built as a defensive structure. On the contrary, the construction of this building was influenced by the love of Ludwig II for the opera about the knight of the swan (Lohengrin by composer Richard Wagner). Since the king ascended the throne, he has supported the composer in every possible way and admired his creations. It is believed that the palace is a personal creation of Ludwig II, as he was directly involved in the development of each drawing.
In 1884, the construction work was not yet completed, but the king had already settled in Neuschwanstein. He lived there for only 172 days and was removed from power for suspicion of insanity. His fanatical attitude towards his fairytale palaces ruined him. When he made his dream come true, he began to lose touch with reality.
In 1886, Ludwig II drowned in Starnberg Lake under mysterious circumstances. After the death of the king, construction work ceased. A record amount of 7.5 million gold marks was spent on the construction of the building. Immediately after the death of Ludwig II, the palace was opened for visits in order to somehow recoup the construction. By the way, within 13 years the debt was paid off at the expense of tourists.
As the Germans like to joke, in order for the Neuschwanstein Palace to pay off, it is necessary to make sure that every inhabitant of the planet visits it at least once.
Chambord Palace (Chambord - France)
Chambord is one of the most famous buildings in France and the world, it was built by King Francis I in the Loire Valley.
The palace was conceived as the embodiment of the architectural achievements of the Renaissance on French soil. Construction began in 1519, but was repeatedly interrupted and delayed due to problems with money as the treasury of Francis was drained by the wars. Construction progressed with difficulty due to the swampy terrain and the need to deliver huge quantities of material.
During the 18th century, the palace was the refuge of the deposed Polish king Stanisław Leszczyński and a soldier's barracks. After the Great French Revolution, the furnishings of the castle were confiscated and sold. Napoleon presented the masterpiece of architecture to his protégé, afterward the palace changed several owners, who were trying to find a use for it and keep it in good condition.
In 1932 the government bought the palace from the last owner. In 1944, the palace hopfully escaped major destruction - an American bomber knocked out by the Germans fell very close to it. Since the end of the war, Chambord has gone through several successive cycles of restoration and is developing as one of the key tourist attractions in France. In 1981, the palace was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chambord is visited by about a million tourists annually.
Schönbrunn Palace (Vienna - Austria)
Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Habsburgs, built in the pompous Austrian Baroque style under the direction of the architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach.
The history of the Schönbrunn palace and park starts in the 14th century, when the monastery grounds were located on its territory, and the area was called Kattenburg. Later, in 1569, the Habsburgs took possession of the land and used it for hunting purposes. Legend has it that while hunting, Emperor Matthias discovered beautiful springs (Schöne Brunnen means "beautiful springs"), which later gave the name to the entire complex.
According to historians, the spring was used for a long time to supply clean water to the imperial palace. Unfortunately, in 1683, the land and summer residence were completely destroyed by the Turks who attacked Vienna. Emperor Leopold gave a new life to the residence, who in 1696 ordered the construction of a palace and park complex based on the model of the Versailles Palace.
The work was supervised by the architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. In 1728, the palace passed into the possession of Charles VI, and later became the property of his daughter Maria Theresa, during whose reign the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna became the center of court life.
In 1747, a theater was opened in the palace, and in 1806 and 1809 Napoleon stayed here. During the reign of Franz Joseph, who lived here until 1916, Schönbrunn in Vienna again received the role of the main residence of the ruler. The 20th century and the bombing during the Second World War brought destruction to the palace. And only in 1992, active restoration and reconstruction began on its territory.
By the way, during the reign of Maria Theresa, the palace turned into the summer residence of the imperial family and was filled with sophistication that only a woman could bring to the interior.
The palace is surrounded by a huge landscape park, especially picturesque in spring and early summer. It is home to hundreds of species of flowers, shrubs, trees and exotic plants. 40 rooms and halls of the residence are open for visiting, where you can look at the imperial bedrooms, reception rooms, and ballrooms. In 1996, Schönbrunn was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Peterhof Palace (St. Petersburg - Russia)
The magnificent Peterhof Palace, towering over the grandiose Grand Cascade of fountains, is an architectural symbol of Russia's Peter's victories in the Baltic region.
The palace in the town of Peterhof was the official state summer residence of the Russian court for almost two centuries, until 1917. Balls, masquerades, theatrical performances, fireworks, official events, diplomatic receptions, in a word, the whole social life of the summer season took place here.
In 1715, the architect Braunstein, by order of Peter the Great, began to build a two-story palace on top of a hill, called the Nagornye Palaty. The peculiarity of the building was that Peter did not initially plan it for everyday life as the richly decorated palace was intended for secular entertainment and receptions.
The construction was continued by the architects Leblon and Miketti. Under Anna of Russia, the architect Zemtsov added two galleries on the sides of the palace.
Rulers changed, fashions changed. In the 1740s, Elizabeth of Russia found her father's palace too cramped and modest for her beloved magnificent ceremonies. The Empress ordered the court architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli to rebuild the palace, at the same time ordering the preservation of Peter's cabinet. Reconstruction lasted from 1745 to 1755.
Later, during the reign of Catherine II, several rooms of the Grand Palace were redecorated by Felten and Wallen-Delamotte. Almost a century later, Emperor Nicholas I, preparing to receive the groom of his daughter Olga in Peterhof, decided to remodel the eastern wing of the palace and build a third floor over it, which was entrusted to the architect Andrei Stackenschneider.
In 1918 the Great Peterhof Palace was turned into a museum. During WWII, the city of Peterhof was occupied by the Nazis, the palace burned twice, was blown up and plundered. Restorers and museum staff have recreated the monument literally from the ashes. The restoration lasted for several decades; in 1964, the first five halls were opened to the public.
Topkapı Palace (Istanbul - Turkey)
Topkapı Palace is a magnificent architectural monument of the 15th century.
This magnificent palace complex was erected at the initiative of Sultan Mehmet in 1479. For several centuries Topkapı was considered the main residence of the rulers of the Ottoman state. Today, it is a wonderful museum complex, which should be seen by everyone who has ever visited Turkey at least once.
The name Topkapı means "cannon gate". This name is justified by a historical fact: whenever the padishah went outside his palace, cannon shots were heard, which were carried around for several kilometers.
The Ottoman sultans lived in the palace for 400 years. And on October 9, 1924, Topkapı Palace was opened to the public in the form of a Museum. Topkapı Sarayı is one of the largest palace museums in the world with a total area of over 700,000 m². The complex consists of four courtyards, which are surrounded by the Gülhane historical park.
If you have watched the popular Turkish TV series The Magnificent Century, be sure to go on a guided tour based on the series. You will learn about the laws of the harem, hear the true story of Sultan Suleiman and Roksolana, and visit the filming locations.
Himeji Palace (Osaka-Japan)
Himeji is the only palace in Japan that has not been damaged by fires and wars.
Himeji is completely snow-white. From a distance, the building is very graceful, especially if you look at it during the day, as it's surrounded by branches of blossoming sakura. Strong tree roots were designed to strengthen the foundation.
The palace is located at the top of the hill and is 92 meters above sea level, of which 46 and a half meters are located in the central building. A stunning view opens up from the top. You can imagine that you are a Japanese lord planning to establish your power throughout the country.
The palace was founded in 1346 and passed from hand to hand more than once. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), who united Japan, decided to restore and rebuild the building. In 1581, a three-story main tower appeared under him.
Between 1601 and 1609, Ikeda Terumasa, to whom the Tokugawa shogun handed the palace over, underwent a large-scale redevelopment. It was at this time that the main buildings were built, Himeji acquired a labyrinth of walls and acquired its modern majestic outlines.
Nowadays, the elegant Himeji Palace is often used for filming. For example, it appeared in the movie "The Last Samurai" and in one of James Bond films.
Fun fact: the garden around Himeji is not for beauty. It looks like a labyrinth with dozens of dead ends, where the attackers were forced to wander for hours. While they were looking for a way out, Japanese fired at them from a bow from the top of the tower.
Bonus: there is a palace in Cyprus too! It is located in Nicosia.
The famous palace of the Archbishop is the religious center of the whole Orthodox island. This building was erected in the period from 1955 to 1960 as the residence and "headquarters" of the highest cleric of Cyprus - the archbishop.
It is located in close proximity to the "Old Palace of the Archbishop", which was created in 1730 and originally served as a Benedictine monastery. The new palace was built in the neo-Byzantine style and is a beautiful three-story (if we count the basement floor) building, which has a rich and luxurious decor.
The first archbishop to settle here was the youngest and most legendary archbishop in the history of Cyprus, Makarios III. After his death, a huge bronze monument, 3 meters high, was erected in front of the entrance to the palace. Despite its relatively young age, the Archbishop's palace in Nicosia has already suffered significant damage. This happened during the 1974 military conflict. In the 80s of the last century, the palace was completely restored.
Today the building of the palace is the personal residence of the archbishop. All services of the diocese are located on the territory of the palace.
The palace is closed to tourists, but you can still get there. On the ground floor, there is the Archdiocese's library, the Museum of Folk Art, and the Museum of National Struggle. Here the valuable archaeological finds, ancient books and icons, works of art, antique jewelry and clothing are kept - all those items with which you can learn so much about the history of Nicosia and the whole of Cyprus.
The main attraction of this cultural and religious complex is considered to be the Byzantine Museum, which houses one of the richest collections of old icons in the world. In addition, there is also the Cathedral of St. John, which was created in 1662 and is famous for its beautiful frescoes.
If you are looking for interesting housing options in Cyprus, then check out the DOM Portal. Here you will find residential and commercial properties for every taste and budget.
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