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15 Magnificent Royal Residences From All Around the World

 The times when powerful monarchs ruled the entire world may be far behind us, but the remains of their powerful kingdoms survive to this day in the form of luxurious and awe-inspiring estates and palaces. In some countries, monarchy is still the form of government of choice, and these kings and queens of today do own a good amount of royal real estate as well. All of these ancient buildings are priceless jewels that aren't just real works of art, but they also have colossal historical significance. In this article, we’ll show you 15 of the most magnificent and extravagant royal palaces around the world, many of which are open to visitors.

1. Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Royal Residences Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand
The Thai royal palace has been completed in 1782 and it was the home of the royal family of the Kings of Siam until 1925. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha that houses a 14th century statue of the Buddha is the crown jewel of this palace and the most sacred and important temple in Thailand. The temple and a few other rooms in the Central Court are open for visitors.

2. Tokyo Imperial Palace, Japan

Royal Residences Tokyo Imperial Palace, Japan
The Japanese monarchy is the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world, dating back to 660 BC. As the name of the palace suggests, this is the residence of the Emperor of Japan Naruhito. The present building has been created on the basis of the 15-century Edo Castle destroyed during World War II in 1945. Tokyo Imperial Palace is only open for visitors on January 2 during the New Year's celebration and on February 23, the emperor's birthday.

3. Windsor Castle, the UK

Royal Residences Windsor Castle, the UK
While you may consider Buckingham Palace to be the place most associated with the British royal family, let's not forget that Queen Elizabeth II and her family also owns more than a dozen other luxurious residences, among which is Windsor Castle, the location for many state visits, a popular tourist attraction, and the preferred weekend residence of the queen herself. The castle is an iconic representation of the British monarchy, the first mentions of which date back to the distant 11th century.

4. Royal Palace of Brussels, Belgium

Royal Residences Royal Palace of Brussels, Belgium
The gorgeous Royal Palace of Brussels situated in the heart of Brussels park is the official palace of the Belgian king and queen. The current, rebuilt version of the building dates back to 1900, but the foundation of the palace has been made in the 11th century. Interestingly, the palace is not the actual home of king Philippe and the royal family, who favor the Royal Palace of Laeken located on the outskirts of Brussels. The Royal Palace of Brussels is open for the public in the summer.

5. The Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Royal Residences The Forbidden City, Beijing, China
Image Source: Bridget Coila/ Flickr
The Forbidden City in the center of Beijing is the largest palace complex in the world, and it was the Chinese imperial home and governmental center for almost 500 years. Surrounded by 10 meter (33 ft) tall red walls, the enormous property has been turned into the Palace Museum today. The museum reportedly attracts a whopping 17 million visitors a year.

6. Dar el Makhzen, Rabat, Morocco

Royal Residences Dar el Makhzen, Rabat, Morocco
Dar el Makhzen is the main residence of the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI. The official name of the palace is 'the El Mechouar Essaid Palace', which translates to the venue of happiness palace. The present-day palace was built in 1864 to replace a previous version of the palace. The palace can be visited by invited guests only.

7. Drottningholm Palace, Sweden

Royal Residences Drottningholm Palace, Sweden
Images Source: Denisbin/ Flickr
This 16th-century palace is the private residence of King Carl XVI Gustaf and the Swedish royal family. Drottningholm Palace is one of the several residences owned by the Swedish royals, and it has been used as the main summer residence of the monarchs since the 18th century. Apart from being the home of the Swedish royal family, part of the palace also contains several museums and a theater, which make it a popular tourist destination year round. 

8. Prince's Palace, Monaco

Royal Residences Prince's Palace, Monaco
Prince Albert II is the current head of state of the Principality of Monaco, a small city-state located on the French Riviera. His main residence called the Prince's Palace is of great historical significance to Monaco, as it started off as a Genoese fortress built in 1191 that has a long complicated history. The palace is open to the public during several months of the year, and it's the venue for open-air concerts given by Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.

9. Royal Palace of Cambodia in Phnom Penh

Royal Residences Royal Palace of Cambodia in Phnom Penh
The creation of the Royal Palace of Cambodia dates back to 1866, and it is the royal residence of the king of Cambodia, King Norodom Sihamoni. The beautiful palace has a unique architecture and is surrounded by magnificent gardens. Unfortunately, only the Throne Room in the palace, as well as the adjacent Silver Pagoda are open to tourists.

10. The Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain

Royal Residences The Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain
The luxurious Royal Palace of Madrid is one of the largest in Europe. The foundation of the palace was made between 860 and 880, but the modern look was heavily inspired by Versailles and built in the 1700s. Although the palace is the official residence of king Felipe VI and the royal family, it is mostly used for official ceremonies and the Spanish monarchs actually reside elsewhere, in the Palace of Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid. Tourists are welcome year-round.

11. Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Royal Residences Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey
Once the residence and administrative center of the Ottoman sultans, Topkapi Palace has been turned into a large museum today. The construction of the palace started in 1459, and during the 15-16th centuries, it was the headquarters of the Ottoman Empire. Today the museum is proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's definitely one of the most noteworthy tourist destinations in Istanbul.

12. Palace of Versailles, France

Royal Residences Palace of Versailles, France
Versailles is the royal palace of all palaces, with its very name being synonymous with luxury, extravagance, and the French 'Sun King' Louis XIV, who created the magnificent chateau in the 17th century. It's not surprising that the envy-worthy Versailles, and especially its iconic Hall of Mirrors, became the inspiration for many other royal palaces worldwide. Since the second half of the 20th century, the estate is open to the public and is one of the most visited places in France, despite it still not being fully restored after years of neglect and damage sustained during the two world wars.

13. Royal Palace of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Royal Residences Royal Palace of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The Royal Palace of Amsterdam was initially built as the Town Hall during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century, but today, it is one of the three residences belonging to King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima.  This is not where the royal family lives, but rather the location where they welcome guests and hold receptions. The palace had undergone massive renovations in the early 2000s and is now open to visitors.  

14. Mysore Palace, India

Royal Residences 14. Mysore Palace, Mysore, India
We have featured many royal palaces in India already, but Mysore Palace is certainly one of the most visited destinations in the country, attracting 6 million visitors every year. The palace was the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Mysore during the period of 1399 to 1950. Today, Mysore Palace is a magnificent museum, open for tourists year round.

15. Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Royal Residences Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russia
The massive Winter Palace used to be the official residence of the Russian Emperors from 1732 to 1917. The original design of the palace was conceived by Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli in the 1730s, but construction continued for another century. Today, the palace is part of the Hermitage Museum and houses countless historical artifacts and works of art, available for visitors to see.
 
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