The Most Picturesque Palaces in the World

 Monday, November 22, 2021


Considered to be the most magnificent examples of history, palaces now serve as one of the most popular tourist attractions around the globe. The world is home to numerous such palaces the stands as the foremost mark of royal dynasties, ancient heritage, art, architecture and culture of several civilizations from the past. Read on to take a look at some of the world’s most picturesque palaces:


Located at the centre of the Imperial City of Beijing, the Forbidden City is the largest palace complex in the entire world. It consists of 980 buildings including 8,886 rooms and covering 720,000 sq. m. of total area. Built in 1406, the palace acted as the imperial home of emperors from both the Ming and Qing dynasties. Every building in the complex stands as an embodiment of splendid Chinese architecture. The Hall of Supreme Harmony and the Palace of Heavenly Purity are two of the key tourist attractions inside the palace. The amalgamation of over two thousand years of Chinese and East Asian art and architecture makes the Forbidden City one of the most important venues in China. The palace is also considered be the world’s most valuable palace and the most valuable piece of real estate with nearly US$70 billion market value. The palace was declared to be an UNESCO Heritage Site in 1987 and currently serves as the Palace Museum with more than 10,000 priceless Chinese artwork and artifacts adorning its courtyards and halls.


Considered to be one of the most of the grandest among French Renaissance castles, the Chateau de Chambord is also one of the most recognisable chateaux (manor) in the world. Known for its distinctive architecture, the palace blends traditional French medieval forms of art with classical Renaissance structures. Situated in the quaint Loire Valley, the palace was commissioned by Francis I to serve as his hunting lodge. The palace was originally designed by Italian architect Domenico da Cortona with possible inputs from Leonardo da Vinci. It is believed that Leonardo Da Vinci advised the king to design the one-of-its double-helix spiral staircase inside the palace. However, Francis I could not live in the castle for long but left it behind as a symbol of his wealth and power. The Chateau de Chambord consists of 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. In light of the French Revolution, much of the castle’s furnishing was stripped down but its halls and chambers still stands strong. The elaborate design and elegant interiors of the palace helps it to stand out. The turrets and towers of the palace in contrast with the lush lawns and reflective moat still create one of the most spectacular sights of all time.


Standing amidst the hills of Grenada in Spain, the Alhambra Palace is considered to be one of the most recognized palaces in the world. Constructed by the Nasrid sultans in the mid-13th century, the building appears to be a palace, a fortress and a garden. The complex includes the Alcazaba fortress, the Nasrid palace, and the Generalife ancient summer palace, featuring carvings of Arabic writing and motifs. The magnificent Court of the Lions showcases carved columns and pretty pavilions while the Museum of Fine Arts displays a spectacular collection of artworks. With several courtyards, gardens, fountains, intricate designs and the Sierra Nevada Mountains as its backdrop, the Alhambra has become one of the most picturesque palaces in the world. It also stands as an example of Arab influence on the architecture of Southern Spain. The Alhambra stands as one of Spain’s major tourist attractions today with many visitors coming to Granada only to see the palace.


The Schonbrunn Palace is located on the outskirts of Vienna, Austria and has been a major tourist attraction of the country since 1950s. The palace was initially commissioned by Emperor Leopold and later constructed under the supervision of Maria Theresa, the only female Habsburg ruler and mother of Marie Antoinette. The palace served as a summer residence of the Habsburg rulers and consists of 1440 rooms. At present only 40 rooms are open for tourists. Each room of the magnificent Rococo palace is splendidly decorated with beautiful ballrooms on show alongside resplendent and refined artworks, tapestries, and sculptures. The palace is characterized by many attractions especially the Privy Garden, the oldest zoo in the world, a maze and labyrinth, and the Gloriette marble summerhouse situated on top of a 60 meter high hill. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years and documents the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. It is certainly one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in the country.


Known as the “the Russian Versailles,” the Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens located in St. Petersburg, Russia. The palace was constructed between 1709 and 1756 and commissioned by Peter the Great. It is recognized around the world for its Petrine Baroque style architecture designed by Domenico Trezzini. The palace symbolizes the modernization and westernization of Russia with exquisitely designed and decorated rooms including the Throne Room and Chesma Hall, two of the most popular tourist attractions inside the palace today. The complex stands on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, just outside of Saint Petersburg with the Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain marking the grand entrance. The picturesque exterior of the palace contains of numerous fountains and flowerbeds making the grand building an excellent example of Russian artistry and architecture. The palace has been marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Situated at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand, the Grand Palace stands on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The construction of the palace began in 1782 at the order of King Rama I and has served as the official seat of the Kings of Siam and Thailand over the years. The rectangular palace complex has a combined area of 218,400 sq. m. and consists of numerous buildings, halls and pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. The asymmetry and eclectic styles are due to its organic development, with additions and rebuilding made by successive reigning kings over 200 years of history. Besides the royal and throne halls, the complex consists of many government offices and sacred temples including the recognized Temple of Emerald Buddha. While the magnificent palace stands as an example of Ratanakosin style, certain European influences can be seen in a few of the halls that blends Italian Renaissance and traditional Thai architectural designs. The Grand Palace is partially open for tourists as a museum, but it remains a working palace, with several royal offices still situated inside the complex.

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