There is an aura of royalty and opulence attached to the word – palaces. You can visualise grace and power, beautiful men and women, centuries of tradition and pomp and show at all these places. They are among the most visited sites in the world, and whether we believe in a monarchical system of governance or not, they still fascinate us.
These are ten of the world’s most beautiful castles and palaces:
1. Chateau De Versailles – Paris:
Completed in 1682, this palace is one of France’s main tourist attractions. The exquisitely laid out gardens, the famous Hall of Mirrors, its sheer extravagance is mind-boggling. The opulence and the grandeur at the Chateau are reminders of the years of magnificence of the French monarchy and of the grand plans of Sun King Louis XIV
2. Alhambra – Spain:
The world’s most beautifully preserved Muslim palace, this amazing palace is located in Granada, Spain. It is Spain’s most popular tourist spot and rightly so. The intricate woodwork, the exquisitely laid out waterways and the general sense of peace and tranquillity are the hallmarks of this fabulous example of Muslim architecture
3. Krak Des Chevaliers – Syria:
It was once described by T.E. Lawrence as the “best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world.” It is located on the only route from Antioch to Beirut and thus to the Mediterranean Sea. Believed to be an excellent piece of military architecture it was designed to withstand a siege lasting over many years.
4. Schloss Schonbrunn – Vienna – Austria:
Many believe it to be the most beautiful of Europe’s castles. The residence of the Habsburgs since 1659, it is today a showplace for all artefacts and items used by the royalty. Europe’s finest artists and craftsmen helped build this place and decorate and today their craftsmanship is visible through the sprawling regions of this castle.
5. Prague Castle – Prague:
The largest medieval castle in Europe, it is now the residence of the President of the Czech Republic. A large complex of cathedrals and palaces and churches, it stands as a tribute to the many rulers and invaders who added their own touches to this beautiful palace.
6. Forbidden City – Beijing :
An entire city existed within the walls of this palace, but there were many areas reserved only for the Chinese royalty, hence it can easily be termed as a palace. Made primarily with wood, it has survived centuries of wars and natural disasters. There are many rooms where the original furniture and artefacts can still be viewed, albeit behind glass.
7. Tower of London – London:
Encapsulating centuries of England’s history within its walls, the Tower of London has seen its fair share of intrigues and conspiracies. Just walking around these hallowed grounds gives you am sense of the majesty of British royalty. Today it houses the Crown Jewels and the ghosts of the previous residents.
8. Windsor Castle – England:
The official residence of the British monarchy it is the largest palace still being occupied by members of the royal family. It has been the home of the British royalty for over 900 years, and only some portions of it are open to the general public. Originally built of wood, it is a beautiful, well-preserved palace.
9. San Felipe Castle – Cartagena – Colombia:
Built in 1533, this castle is a World Heritage Site. It was built to withstand the attacks from the pirates and is believed to be an engineering marvel due to its strong defences. The size of this castle is astounding, and it has a series of underground tunnels connecting the various sections.
10. Alcazar – Spain:
Situated over a hill overlooking the rivers Clamores and Eresma, this castle now houses a museum and the Spanish Military Archives. Believed to have been built in the 12th Century it made a great outpost to watch over the surroundi8ng areas.