The art goes far beyond paintings, solemnly distinguished in the architecture bequeathed by revered artists.
Once home to kings and emperors, to stories of romance and intrigue that inspired writers like Shakespeare, today these opulent royal residences provide the opportunity to immerse yourself in their architectural splendor and rich history. Despite the years, they remain some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Kuadros has wanted to make for our followers a varied list of the most sumptuous, beautiful and impressive palaces in the world.
No. 1 The Forbidden City, China
Located in the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City is the largest palace complex in the world at 72 hectares. The Forbidden City took 14 years to build and was put in place by more than 1,000,000 workers, including more than 100,000 craftsmen.
Home to 24 emperors who ruled the country for almost 5 centuries, the architecture of the walled complex adheres rigidly to the traditional Chinese geomantic practice of feng shui. The orientation of the Forbidden City, and indeed all of Beijing, follows a north-south line. Within the complex, all the major buildings, especially those along the main axis, face south to honor the sun.
The buildings and the ceremonial spaces between them are arranged to convey an impression of great imperial power while reinforcing the insignificance of the individual. This architectural concept is reflected in the smallest details: the relative importance of a building can be judged not only by its height or width, but also by the style of its roof and the number of figures perched on its crests.
The Forbidden City became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The film The Last Emperor (1987), which portrays Puyi's life, was filmed there. Today more than 14 million people visit this architectural marvel annually.
No. 2 The Grand Kremlin Palace, Russia
The Grand Kremlin Palace is a unique architectural ensemble and famous monument in the city of Moscow.
It used to serve as private chambers for emperors and their families. With its authentic furniture, a throne, and lavish interiors and murals, the palace never fails to impress with its beauty and grandeur.
The Grand Kremlin Palace was formerly the Tsar's residence in Moscow. Its construction involved the demolition of the previous Baroque palace on the site, designed by Rastrelli, and the Church of San Juan Bautista.
Today it has the status of being the great residence of the President of Russia. The palace is open only for guided tours according to a schedule approved in advance by the Federal Protective Service.
The Grand Kremlin Palace is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.
No. 3 Alhambra, Spain
Alhambra, palace and fortress of the Moorish monarchs of Granada, Spain.
The name Alhambra, which means "the red" in Arabic, probably derives from the reddish color of the rammed earth (rammed earth) from which the outer walls were built.
The origins of the Alhambra are shrouded in mystery. The first references to construction in the area appear in the 9th century, but it is believed that the buildings may have been standing since Roman times. In its present form, it largely dates from the 13th and 14th centuries, when Granada's rulers transformed it into a fortified palace. After the Reconquista (Christian reconquest) of 1492, its mosque was replaced by a church and Emperor Charles V pulled down a wing to make room for the huge Renaissance building that still bears his name.
In the early 19th century, French Napoleonic forces destroyed part of the palace and attempted to blow up the entire site. Restoration work began in the mid-1800s and continues to this day. The most famous structures of the Alhambra are the three original royal palaces.
The palace and grounds of the Alhambra are situated in a place of rare natural beauty. The plateau on which the palace was built dominates the Albaicín neighborhood of the old Moorish city of Granada. At the base of the plateau, the Darro River flows through a deep ravine to the north. The park outside the palace, Alameda de la Alhambra, was planted by the Moors with roses, oranges and myrtle. However, its most characteristic feature is the dense wood of the English elms brought there in 1812 by the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War.
However, more deeply, this is a place to reflect. Given the beauty, care and detail found in the Alhambra, it is tempting to imagine that the Nasrids planned to live here forever.
It is ironic to see throughout the complex in the carved stucco, the words "...not victor, but God" left behind by those who once conquered Granada, and would be conquered at one time themselves. It is a testimony in the Alhambra, that the Catholic monarchs who besieged and finally took the city, left this complex largely intact.
No. 4 Palace of Versailles, France
Versailles was originally a hunting lodge, built in 1624 for 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.
"In the public imagination, Versailles is the epitome of opulence," said writer Louise Boisen Schmidt. The palace represents an era in French history of France's rise as a center of fashion and power.
Versailles was one of the greatest theaters of European absolutism, as well as the dramatic and bloody decline of the monarchy.
In 1789, the French Revolution forced Louis XVI to leave Versailles for Paris. The Palace would never again be a royal residence and was given a new role in the 19th century, when it became the French History Museum in 1837 by order of King Louis-Philippe, who came to the throne in 1830.
Located about 16 kilometers southwest of Paris, the palace is next to the Versailles settlement. The city was little more than a village before it became the seat of royal power. At the time of the French Revolution, it had a population of over 60,000 people, making it one of the largest urban centers in France.
Louis XIV entrusted Andre le Notre with the design and development of his famous gardens, which would later become known as a model of exceptional landscaping throughout the world. André Le Nôtre took 40 years to complete them.
Versailles had a role to play during the first world war. The most important palace related event that occurred during this period was on June 28, 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors. The treaty effectively ended what is known as the Great War, while asserting Germany's defeat.
Since 1904, the Palace has also served as the setting for almost 200 films and has been listed as a World Heritage Site, being one of the greatest achievements of 17th-century French art.
No. 5 Topkapi Palace, Turkey
The construction of the Topkapi Palace was carried out in 1453 by King Sultan Mehmed II in Istanbul. It is the largest and oldest palace in the world that has survived to this day.
Around 30 sultans ruled from Topkapi Palace for nearly four centuries during the 600-year reign of the Ottoman Empire.
The palace covers a vast area of 173 acres, protected by huge walls. The different crafts, tiles, architectural styles, jewelry (such as the well-known diamond from a famous spoon maker) displayed in Topkapi Palace reflect the richness of Turkish art and the mix of culture of different countries.
The immense Topkapi Palace housed between 1,000 and 4,000 inhabitants, including up to 300 in the harem. It is situated on the acropolis, the site of the first settlement in Istanbul, displaying a breathtaking view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara.
Topkapi is the subject of colorful stories not found in most of the world's museums. Lustful sultans, ambitious courtiers, beautiful concubines and scheming eunuchs lived and worked here between the 15th and 19th centuries when it was the court of the Ottoman Empire. A visit to the palace's opulent pavilions, jewel-filled treasury and sprawling harem offers a fascinating insight into their lives.
The treasury part of the Topkapi Palace Museum is the richest collection in the world because, instead of the masterpieces of Turkish jewelry art, there is a mixture of the art of other countries such as the Far East, India and Europe. In this section, authentic and original pieces are shown. It consists of four rooms and each room reflects different pieces. One of the most valuable pieces is the Spoon Maker. The 86-carat Spoon Maker (or Pigot) diamond, one of the most famous diamonds in the world.
However, the palace today is considered by some experts to be lax when it comes to security and preservation of the works, pointing out that the palace has no climate-controlled rooms or storage and is a "security nightmare".
No. 6 Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
King Louis did not get to see his beautiful castle completed. He died before a throne could be installed in the Byzantine-style throne room.
Inspired by Wagner's operas, Louis intended to live out his romantic vision of a solitary life there, and even commissioned designers to work on the palace to make it more theatrical.
In 1866 Bavaria, allied with Austria, had lost a war against expanding Prussia, forcing itself to accept an "offensive and defensive alliance", which eliminated the king's right to dispose of his army in case of war. From 1866, therefore, Louis II was no longer a sovereign sovereign. This limitation was the greatest misfortune of his life.
In 1867 Louis II began to plan his own kingdom, in the form of castles and palaces, where he could be a true king. His reputation as an eccentric and reclusive king makes it easy to see why Neuschwanstein is so often called "the castle of the fairytale king."
In a letter to his friend, the German composer Richard Wagner, Ludwig II said that his intentions in Neuschwanstein were "to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau ... in the authentic style of the old German knight's castles." He described "guest rooms with a splendid view of the noble Säuling, the Tyrolean mountains, and far across the plain"; and spoke of a singer's hall and a wide court of the castle. "This castle will be in every way more beautiful and habitable than Hohenschwangau," Louis II told Wagner.
Despite the grand plans of the king, only 14 rooms are currently finished and on view for visitors. On the guided tour of Neuschwanstein Castle, the visitor will have access to the grotto in the form of a cave, the king's room and the Singer's Hall, among others.
Ludwig's dressing room includes magnificent ceiling painting and murals illustrating the works of the poets Walther von der Vogelwide and Hans Sachs. The entire room is finished in rich gold and violet silks.
Neuschwanstein Castle, with its white limestone façade and deep blue towers, is rumored to be the real-life inspiration for the castle in the Disney classic Cinderella, released in 1950. The likeness, after everything is amazing. But there's another Disney castle that looks a lot like Neuschwanstein, and that's Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland. Before Walt Disney began building his Californian theme park, he and his wife took a trip to Europe that included a stop at Neuschwanstein.
No. 7 The Palace Mysore, India
Also known as the Amba Vilas Palace, this is the former palace of the royal family of Mysore, and remains the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore. It was built in the year 1912 for the 24th Governor of the Wodeyar dynasty and is counted among one of the largest palaces in the country.
Modification and construction of new parts of the present Mysore Palace was carried out between 1897-1912. It contains a mix of Indo-Saracenic, Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic architectural styles which give it a royal quality. It is also surrounded by a large garden, illuminated by more than 10,000 light bulbs during the Dasara festival in September.
The construction of the Mysore Palace was orchestrated by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV whom Mahatma Gandhi referred to as "Rajarishi" (holy king). The construction cost was put at around US$30 million adjusted for inflation, being completed in 1912. It was later enlarged by his son and the last Maharaja of Mysore, Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar.
The three-story stone building of fine gray granite, with domes of dark pink marble, has a façade with several expansive arches and two smaller ones flanking the central arch, which is supported by tall pillars. Above the central arch is a sculpture of Gajalakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, prosperity, fortune and abundance with her elephants.
With the Chamundi Hills to its east side, the sight of Mysore Palace is an enchanting sight to behold.
Needless to say, it is the second most visited historical monument visited by local and foreign tourists after the Taj Mahal.
No. 8 Chambord Castle, France
It is the second most visited castle in France after Versailles, being a masterpiece of the French Renaissance.
Loire Chateau de Chambord was built by Francis I as a royal hunting lodge, but became the largest Renaissance castle in the Loire Valley.
The Chateau de Chambord royal hunting lodge was started in 1519 by King Francis Francis Valois. It was favored by kings who were fond of hunting such as Henry II and Louis XIV. Although never fully completed, it is as impressive now as it was when it impressed Emperor Charles V.
Chambord 's dimensions are extravagant by any analysis: 156 meters long and up to 56 meters high. The 426 rooms were made up of 282 fireplaces and 77 stairs. More than 800 carved columns hold it all together.
History has not officially recorded the name of the architect responsible for the castle, but the influence of Leonardo da Vinci, whom Francis invited to live in France as "the king's first painter, architect and engineer" is indisputable. That central staircase, innovative ventilation scheme, and sealed double-pit latrine system clearly bear his mark of genius.
In the spring of 2017, Chambord renovated its large gardens. 600 trees, 800 shrubs, 200 roses and 15,250 plants filled the borders in addition to an immense lawn of thousands of square meters. This gardening blitz followed 16 years of study for the restoration of nearly identical gardens created in the rule of Louis XIV. They are the definition of magnificent in petals and leaves.
The Château de Chambord park is as vast as the interior of Paris. It is the largest closed park in Europe: 5,440 hectares surrounded by 32 kilometers of walls. It is home to an exceptional variety of flora and fauna and there are several ways to discover its beauty: on horseback, by bicycle, by carriage or in a 4X4. In good weather, you can follow more than 20 kilometers of trails that allow you to explore the enchanted forests.
Chambord eventually became national property in 1930. At the outbreak of World War II, the palace housed several works of art from the Louvre, including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. As a national monument, it is in a beautifully restored condition but, as with any old house, maintenance work continues unabated.
Château de Chambord was inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list in 1981.
No. 9 Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna
At the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold commissioned the Baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, who had received his training in Rome, to design an imperial hunting lodge for his son, Crown Prince Joseph, who would later become Emperor. Joseph I.
One of the most popular cultural monuments in Vienna, the name means "beautiful spring", this grand palace has 1,441 different rooms. The sculptured garden in front of Schonbrunn Palace also makes this site a place of outstanding beauty.
After the fall of the Habsburg Monarchy in November 1918, the palace became the property of the newly founded Republic of Austria and was preserved as a museum.
The gardens and the palace have been the location for many films and television productions from the 1950s to the present day.
The Austrian 10 euro coin minted in 2003 put this grand palace on its face. The Palace is without a doubt one of the most important cultural assets in Austria, and since the 1960s it has been one of the main tourist attractions in Vienna, attracting millions of visitors every year.
At the 20th session of the World Heritage Committee held in December 1996, Schönbrunn Palace was included in the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites.
No. 10 The Peterhof Palace, Russia
The ornate Peterhof Palace is sometimes referred to as the "Russian Versailles" and the "capital of fountains."
Peter the Great had the palace complex built as his glorious seaside residence, although he preferred the modest Monplaisir Palace to the main imperial palace.
The palace used to be the official summer residence of the imperial court. Emperor Peter the Great was installing in Peterhof facing the sea coast, as a kind of monument to Russian naval victories. The building is three stories, yellow in color and standing on top of the natural hill above the lower garden. The façade is almost 331 meters wide. The palace was modestly decorated in "Petrian Baroque style".
The Grand Palace became the venue for official court life, receptions and celebrations. The gala rooms of the palace extend one after another in the set of rooms. The most striking feature of all Rasstrelli interiors is the gilded wood carving. The main staircase is lavishly decorated with carved sculptures made of linden, symbolizing the seasons of the year. The ceiling painting glorifies Empress Elisabeth, allegorically painted as the goddess of spring.
The Grand Cascade is inspired by one built for Louis XIV at his Château de Marly, which is also commemorated in one of the park's outbuildings. In the center of the waterfall is an artificial grotto with two floors, faced inside and out with carved brown stone.
There are 64 fountains whose waters flow into a semicircular pool, the terminus of the fountain-lined sea channel. In the 1730s, the great Samson Fountain was placed in this pool. It shows the moment when Samson tears open the jaws of a lion, representing Russia's victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War, and is doubly symbolic. The lion is an element of the Swedish coat of arms, and one of the great victories of the war was won on Saint Samson's Day. A 20 meter high vertical jet of water shoots out of the lion's mouth, the highest in all of Peterhof.
Although the Peterhof was left in ruins after World War II, it has been carefully restored. Today's visitors can stroll through the Lower Park, where Monplaisir and the Hermitage are located, the Upper Garden with the great Neptune Fountain, the Grand Cascade and the Main Palace.
In 2003, Saint Petersburg celebrated its 300th anniversary. As a result, much of the building and statues in Peterhof have been restored and gilded works abound.
Kuadros, a famous painting on his wall.