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Most Amazing Palaces and Castles Around the World

Most Amazing Palaces and Castles Around the World

Palaces and castles exemplify the richness and might of the people. They sometimes symbolize the culture and history of the place. This Vacayholics article brings to you a list of some of the most magnificent and amazing palaces and castles around the world.
Sucheta Pradhan
Last Updated: Feb 28, 2018
Spooky Castle
The Chillingham Castle in England is famous for being the most haunted castle in the country. Guests have reported seeing flashes of blue light and hearing loud wailing sounds at night.
Both palaces and castles signify wealth and power; however, there is one fundamental difference in the nature of the two structures. The primary function of a palace is to provide comfort. Owing to this, a palace generally bears spacious and airy rooms, big verandas, beautifully decorated gardens, and huge halls meant for the king to meet his subjects. Generally, embellishment is the key aspect in palace architecture, and a lot of money is spent on decoration. So, in a nutshell, a palace stands for wealth and royalty of its inhabitants. On the other hand, the main function of a castle is defense.

Like palaces, castles may also act as residential mansions; nevertheless, their purpose as a military stronghold is more prominent. A castle will generally have a strong fortification, built for protection in case of hostile situations. The safety of the king and his men is of primary importance. The castle will have, apart from residential quarters, special rooms meant for storing arms and armament. A castle is hence, a symbol of power and military might of the ruler. Thus, the fundamental difference between a palace and a castle is that the former is secular in nature, while the latter is strategic.
Beautiful Palaces Around the World
Palaces have always been popular tourist attractions. Their imposing size and grandeur are so overwhelming that we simply cannot ignore these magnificent edifices, no matter what. Some of these palaces still serve as private royal residences; however, most of them are now open for the general public. Here's a list of some of the most beautiful palaces around the world.
Château de Versailles
Versailles Palace And Tourist
Location: Versailles, France
Style of Architecture: Baroque
Also known as the Palace of Versailles or simply Versailles, this magnificent edifice was the French royal residence from 1682 until the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. The foundations of the structure, however, were laid in 1624, when King Louis XIII of France commissioned the construction of a hunting lodge on the site. Since then, numerous new structures have been added to the complex over the centuries. The most enchanting elements of the palace are its awe-inspiring gardens spread across some 800 hectares of land. In 1979, the Palace and Park of Versailles was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Currently, the palace houses a Museum of the History of France, which is also a major tourist attraction, alongside the garden and the palace itself. However, the building still serves political purposes.
Winter Palace
Winter Palace In Saint Petersburg
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Style of Architecture: Baroque
The Winter Palace was commissioned in 1754, by Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, the daughter of Peter the Great, the Tsar of Russia from 1672 to 1725. The palace was meant to be the royal residence of the Empress; however, she died before its completion in 1762. From 1762 to 1917, the palace had been the residence of the Russian royal family. It is a three-storied edifice designed in the Baroque style, with amazing decorative motifs adorning its windows and façades. Today, the structure houses the world-renowned Hermitage museum, which, along with the palace, attracts millions of visitors every year.
Palacio Real de Madrid
Palacio Real de Madrid
Location: Madrid, Spain
Style of Architecture: Baroque

The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish royal family; although, it is only used for holding state ceremonies. The construction of the palace began in 1738, and took 17 years to complete. The palace is yet another Baroque structure that houses a royal library, a royal pharmacy, and a royal armory. With about 2,800 rooms, the Palacio Real de Madrid is one of the largest palaces in the world.
Palácio Nacional da Pena
Pena Palace
Location: São Pedro de Penaferrim, Portugal
Style of Architecture: Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic, Neo-Renaissance
Commissioned by King Fernando II in 1842, the Pena National Palace was constructed on the site of a ruined monastery. This national monument of Portugal is one of the country's seven wonders, and has also found a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the Middle Ages, the palace served as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family. Now, it is used for state ceremonies by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials. The forested area spreading across some 200 hectares of land, known as the Pena Park, surrounds the edifice. The palace is one of the most visited monuments in Portugal.
Dolmabahçe Palace
Dolmabahce Palace
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Style of Architecture: Baroque, Neo-Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Classical, traditional Ottoman
The Dolmabahçe Palace was the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922. Patronized by Sultan Abdülmecid I, it was built in 1844, and was completed over a span of nine years. 14 tons of gold was used to gild the palace's ceiling. The building has some 300 rooms and halls, and six traditional Turkish baths. While the palace is open for the public, the interiors can only be accessed by means of a guided tour.
Bahia Palace
Bahia Palace
Location: Marrakech, Morocco
Style of Architecture: A blend of Islamic and Moroccan styles

This late 19th century edifice commissioned by Si Moussa, the grand vizier of the sultan, for his personal use, has a big central garden, surrounded by rooms on three sides. The structure was actually meant to be the greatest structure of all time, but ended up instead, portraying the "uninspired" taste of the nouveau-riche. Nevertheless, it is one of the major tourist sites in Morocco.
Potala Palace
Potala Palace
Location: Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China
Style of Architecture: An amalgam of Indian and Chinese styles of Buddhist architecture
The Potala Palace has been named after Mount Potala, the abode of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. Built over the previously erected palace of Songtsän Gampo, the Potala Palace was the winter residence of the Dalai Lama from 7th century to the middle of the 20th century, when the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India following the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. The palace complex is built on the Red Mountain that overlooks the Lhasa valley, and is famous for its extremely vibrant Buddhist murals and wooden furnishings. In 1994, the monument was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Alhambra palace
Location: Granada, Andalusia, Spain
Style of Architecture: A blend of Moorish vernacular architecture and traditional Andalusian architecture
Built in the 9th century, originally as a fortress, the Calat Alhambra was converted into a royal palace in the 14th century by the then Sultan of Granada, Yusuf I. Located on a plateau that overlooks the city of Granada, the palace was used by both Islamic and Christian rulers. Today, it is one of the major tourist attractions of Spain, and in 1870, it was declared as a property of cultural interest by the Spanish authorities. Moreover, in 1984, the palace and the garden surrounding it were also inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Baron Empain Palace
Baron Empain Palace
Location: Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt
Style of Architecture: Inspired by Khmer temple architecture and the Orissan temple architecture
This is a very interesting monument that resembles a Hindu temple. Built between 1907 and 1911, it was designed by the French architect Alexandre Marcel, taking elements from Hindu architecture. In September 2012, Mail Online reported about certain disturbing phenomena and satanic rituals taking place in the palace in the dead of the night. Owing to this, the building lies deserted and has been closed for the general public.
Umaid Bhavan
Umaid Bhavan
Location: Jodhpur, India
Style of Architecture: Indo-Saracenic
One of the biggest private residences in the world, the Umaid Bhavan has been named after Maharaja Umaid Singh (1903-1947) of Jodhpur. It is located on the highest point in Jodhpur, the Chittar hill, due to which, it was formerly known as the Chittar Palace. The main aim behind constructing the palace was to provide employment to the people during famine. It took 14 years to complete, from 1929 to 1943. Today, a large portion of the palace has been converted into a 5-star hotel, however, the royal family continues to stay in their private quarters. The palace also houses a museum displaying the history of the royal family of Jodhpur.
Hearst Castle - A Special Mention
Location: Central Coast of California, United States
Style of Architecture: Mediterranean Revival

Neither a palace, nor a castle, but a beautiful admixture of both, the Hearst Castle is the Historical Landmark of California and the National Landmark of the United States of America. The Hearst Castle, located on the Central Coast of California is a 20th century mansion, designed by architect Julia Morgan, to serve as a personal residence for the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The design of this huge palatial mansion has elements of castle architecture, such as huge arches and towers on its exterior, whereas the interior exquisitely features 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the largest private zoo in the world. Plus, antique decorative items embellish the interior.

Today, the structure is owned by the state of California, which maintains it as a state historic park. Owing to this, the Hearst Castle and some part of its immense collection of art and antiques is open for public viewing. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in California.
Beautiful Castles Around the World
Like palaces, castles, despite their location, are also subjects of great fascination among the people. These mighty edifices are in fact, structural manifestations of the might and bravery of the rulers and the people of a particular region. They are important symbols of regional and national identity. Here's a list of some of the most amazing castles around the world.
Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle
Location: Mayo/Galway border, Ireland
Style of Architecture: Anglo-Norman, French, Victorian, Neo-Gothic
This medieval castle was built in 1228, by an Anglo-Norman clan known as the House of Burke. From then on, the castle's ownership passed through the hands of numerous rulers and dynasties, who made some significant additions and alterations to the structure, each bearing its own peculiar feature. Thus, it is an amazing blend of varied architectural styles. Today, the castle has been turned into a hotel with 83 bedrooms, a golf course, and beautiful gardens.
Bran Castle
Bran Castle
Location: Bran, Braşov County, Romania
Style of Architecture: Transylvanian Gothic
Also known as Dracula's Castle, this fortress was first mentioned in an act issued by Louis I of Hungary, permitting the Saxons to construct their own citadel in Kronstadt (present day Braşov). The castle stands on the boundary between Wallachia and Transylvania, and is marketed as the home of the famous Dracula. Up to the middle of the 18th century, the castle played a strategic role in Romanian history; however, after 1920, it was made the Kingdom of Romania's royal residence. Today, the castle is a national monument and landmark in Romania, and is promoted in the tourism circuit as the first ever private museum of the country.
Löwenburg Castle
Lowenburg Castle
Location: Kassel, Germany
Style of Architecture: Gothic Revival
Built between 1793 and 1801, the Löwenburg Castle, a.k.a. the Lion's Castle, was built as a private residence for William IX and his mistress―Caroline of Schlotheim. William IX was even buried in the castle's chapel after he died. Though the castle resembles the classic defensive structure from the Middle Ages, it is actually just a replica of the same, and not a real castle. However, the edifice is very valuable in the history of art and architecture, as it was with the construction of this structure that the Gothic Revival phase began in Germany. Today, it one of the most visited monuments in Germany.
Matsumoto Castle
National Treasure Matsumoto Castle Tower
Location: Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Style of Architecture: Shoin-zukuri (Japanese residential architecture)
The Matsumoto is one of the important flatland castles of Japan, which is also known as Crow Castle, owing to its black exteriors. Built on a plain in 1504, by daimyo Shimadachi Sadanaga, the castle was surrounded by numerous interconnecting walls and a number of moats as its main defense mechanism. In 2011, the interior of the castle was damaged due to a high magnitude earthquake; however, the original structure and some of the inner walls still survive. The castle has been listed as a National Treasure of Japan, and houses a gun museum, which is one of the major tourist attractions.
Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint Michel
Location: Normandy, France
Style of Architecture: Gothic
Mont Saint-Michel, meaning Saint Michael's Mount, is a fortified citadel, located on an island since the 8th century A.D. Owing to its strategic location near the mouth of the Couesnon river, the citadel has been strongly fortified right since its inception. A classic example of a feudal citadel, the structure contains an abbey, a monastery, huge assembly halls, storehouses, and housing quarters. In 1979, Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay were enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage List; it has always been one of the most popular landmarks of France.
Krak des Chevaliers
Krak des Chevaliers
Location: Tartus, Syria
Style of Architecture: Gothic
The Krak des Chevaliers, a.k.a. Crac des Chevaliers, is an 11th century Crusader castle in Syria. First occupied by the Kurds and then by the Knights of St John, the castle served as a military base, as well as an administrative center. At the pinnacle of its glory, Krak des Chevaliers was equipped with a garrison of about 2,000. Owing to its history, its location, and its architecture, Krak des Chevaliers, though partially ruined now, is one of the most important medieval castles in the world. In 2006, it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Malbork Castle
Malbork Castle
Location: Malbork, Poland
Style of Architecture: Gothic
The Castle of the Teutonic Order, commonly known as the Malbork Castle, is by far, the largest brick structure in the whole of Europe, and also the largest castle in the world by surface area. It was built in the 15th century in Prussia, by the Teutonic Knights, after they conquered Prussia. From 1466 to 1772, the castle served as the official residence of the Polish kings. The castle suffered heavily during WWII; however, it was later restored to a good state. In 1997, it was added to the World Heritage List of the UNESCO.
Swallow's Nest
Swallows Nest
Location: Crimean peninsula, Ukraine
Style of Architecture: Neo-Gothic
The Swallow's Nest is a decorative castle overlooking the Cape of Ai-Todor of the Black Sea, built in 1911, by a Russian architect named Leonid Sherwood. One of the most visited tourist structures in Crimea, the interior of the castle is decorated with wooden panels and paintings. Though compact in size, owing to its non-strategic purpose, the castle's architecture is inspired largely by various medieval castles of Germany and Italy. Since 1975, the castle has been housing an Italian restaurant.
Elmina Castle
Elmina Castle
Location: Elmina, Ghana
Style of Architecture: Colonial (Portuguese, Dutch, British)
In 1482, the Portuguese built the Elmina, a.k.a. St. George of the Mine Castle on the Gold Coast. The castle was the first ever trading post constructed on the Gulf of Guinea. Later, the castle transformed from being a trading settlement to an important station in the course of the Atlantic slave trade. In 1637, the castle was conquered by the Dutch, and then in 1872, by the British. Additions and modifications to the structure were made by all the occupants throughout the castle's history, thus making it a repository of the various styles of colonial architecture. Today, Elmina Castle is a popular tourist destination in Ghana, and has been a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979.
Predjama Castle
Predjama Castle
Location: Inner Carniola, Slovenia
Style of Architecture: Gothic, Renaissance
Built within the mouth of a cave in south-central Slovenia, the very first reference of this castle comes from a 13th century German source, which says that the Patriarchate of Aquileia built the structure. The very idea behind choosing a natural rock formation to build a castle may have been to restrict its access in case of a hostile situation. Unlike most other castles in the world, which are by and large, free-standing structures, this is an important example of rock-cut architecture of the Renaissance period. One of the most visited sites in Slovenia, the castle was also investigated in the 2008 episode of Ghost Hunters International, for traces of paranormal activity.
It is really fortunate enough to know that a large number of castles and palaces around the world are now accessible to the people, and many of them have now been converted into hotels, where people can actually stay and experience the sheer joy of living where the royals once lived. Plus, converting such historical structures into hotels, museums, etc., also helps generate funds for their maintenance.