Just the thought of palaces conjures up images of sheer opulence and centuries-old decadence. It’s fascinating to explore the intricate architecture, sumptuous decorations and picture perfect gardens of palaces when traveling;
6. The Summer Palace, Beijing, China – The Summer Palace is a sprawling complex which features thousands of pieces of Chinese art, ancient architecture and vast gardens. Wander amongst the towers, statues, shrines, bridges and pavilions. A boat carved out of marble and the Long Corridor, 730m long with some 14,000 paintings, attract plenty of visitors. Travelers flock to see grand palace buildings and Kunming Lake, whose gardens were first used during the Jin Dynasty of 1115-1234.
5. Schloss Neuschwanstein, Bavaria, Germany – Often called the ‘Fairytale Palace’ thanks to its snowy-white walls and rising towers, Neuschwanstein rises majestically from the Bavarian Alps. Building began in 1869 by King Ludwig II, who wanted to create the dream castle. Neuschwanstein was built in the style of late Romanesque castles and was actually never completed. An impressive castle keep was meant to have been built in the courtyard and only 14 rooms were ever finished. In fact King Ludwig II was also building the Linderhof Castle (his only complete castle) and Herrenchiemsee Castle as well as planning Falkenstein Castle and so concerned at the vast expense, the royal family had the King declared insane and taken away! Today Schloss Neuschwanstein is Germany most iconic and most visited castle.
4. El Badi Palace, Marrakech, Morocco – The El Badi Palace was built by the Saadian King, Ahmad al-Mansur in the 16th Century and today there are only the remains left of ‘The Incomparable Palace’. There were originally more than 350 rooms set around a courtyard, finished in gold and marble. Visitors can still see the five pools, wander around the orange orchards and visit the on-site museum.
3. Imperial Palace, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – The Paço Imperial was originally built in 1743 and largely remains unaltered. Built originally to accommodate the colonial governors of Brazil, Kings and Emperors did also stay there later. Now a cultural museum, travelers visit to admire the design and history of the actual building and to peruse the architecture and engineering texts in the library with some books dating back to the 16th century.
2. Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey – One of Istanbul’s must-see sights is the Topkapi Palace, ancient home of the Ottoman Sultans. Set around several large courtyards, the Topkapi Palace displays the opulent trinkets of the Sultans including the intricate Topkapi Dagger, robes adorned with gems, an 86 carat diamond and thrones studded with diamonds and pearls. There are Islamic relics on display and there are also the private chambers of the Harem.
1. Buckingham Palace, London, UK – Originally built as a townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham in 1705, Buckingham Palace became the official residence of the British monarchs in 1837 and is today home to Queen Elizabeth II. The state rooms are decorated in Faberge style and play host to banquets, garden parties and royal receptions for some 50,000 guests who are invited each year. Travelers flock to see the famous changing of the guard and the Queen’s gallery, although not much more of the vast 42 acre site is open to tourists.