These incredible homes once belonged to kings and emperors, but have now become popular tourist attractions. Without a doubt, these splendid palaces are among the most famous monuments in the world. From Europe, to Asia, here are 10 astounding palaces that will captivate us with their majestic architectural styles.
1. The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City located in the center of Beijing, is the world's largest palace - it covers an incredible 72 hectares. Built over a 14-year period from 1406, the complex consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8707 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. In total, 24 emperors reigned over the country, over a span of five centuries.
2. The Potala Palace
The Potala Palace is situated on Marpo Ri hill, 130 meters above the Lhasa Valley in Tibet. Initially, this landmark was already occupied by a palace in the 7th century. The construction of the present palace began in 1645, during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. The palace is marked by two clear sections, the white palace which was completed in 1648, and the red palace which had been added between 1690 and 1694. The palace remained the residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India after the Chinese invasion of 1959.
Alhambra is part fortress, part palace and part garden. It is situated atop a plateau overlooking the city of Granada in southern Spain. Constructed during the mid 14th century by the Nasrid sultans, the palace is a testament to the skill of Muslim craftsmen of that time. It has become one of Spain's major tourist attractions!
4. Palace of Versailles
Perhaps one of the most well-known palaces in the world, Versailles, built in 1624 is one of the largest too. It 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.
5. Château de Chombard
This masterpiece of the French Renaissance is the second most visited tourist attraction in France (after Versailles). It features 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases. Construction began in 1519 by King François I, enabling him to hunt in nearby forests. He resided in the Château for less than 40 days though as the rooms were too large and too cold.
6. Topkapi Palace
Located in Istanbul, Turkey, construction on Tokapi palace began in 1453, ordered by then Sultan Mehmet. The palace remained the imperial enclave of the Ottoman sultans for four centuries from 1465 to 1853. It underwent complex and constant modifications throughout the years and today it is made up of four main, grand courtyards and many smaller buildings.
7. Summer Palace
Located 15km from central Beijing in China the Summer Palace, as its name implies, was predominantly used as a summer residence by China's imperial rulers, serving as a retreat from the 'Forbidden City'. In 1750, the gardens were extended, reproducing those in various palaces and gardens from around China.
8. Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace located in Vienna, Austria is truly a remarkable sight to behold. In terms of grandeur it can be compared to Versailles. The palace was built between 1696 and 1712 at the request of Emperor Leopold I, turning it into an imperial summer palace. The Palace Park has lots to offer too - the Privy Garden is certainly a sight to see. It also features the oldest zoo in the world, a maze and labyrinth and the Gloriette (a marble summerhouse) set atop a 60m high hill.
9. Mysore Palace
Located in the City of Palaces, Mysore India, this palace was commissioned in 1897 after the old palace was destroyed in a fire during a wedding. The structure 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 making it one magnificent sight to see.
10. Pena National Palace
Pena National Palace was built in 1842 by King Ferdinand II. Located in Portugal it is the oldest European castle in this romanticism style. It was constructed on the ruins of a monastery which had been severely damaged in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. It has become one of Portugal's most visited monuments.