For most of us, palaces represent a mystical world of beauty and decorum. The notion of royalty definitely evokes the romantic in all of us. We envisage the space within walls of royal homes to be filled with grandeur and extravagance, and mostly, we are absolutely correct.
In assuming that palaces are sites of historical importance, we are bestowing upon them a meaning that only increases with time. Kings and rulers have always been path breakers where architecture is concerned. The designs have always been larger than life and the aim has not always been functionality or comfort.
And thus, the result is the magnificent structures that we today admire and envy. Here is looking at some of these awe-inspiring edifices whose wonder has transcended time.
A Major Tourist Attraction
The Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria is one of the most beautiful buildings that have been passed onto us from the bygone era. This palace belonged to the Habsburg rulers and is reflective of their style and taste. Built as a mammoth comprising of 1400 rooms, this palace was created in 1642, though the construction had started earlier in bits and pieces.
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It was intended as a summer residence for the then ruler, Emperor Maximillian. The name translates to mean ‘beautiful spring’ and it is with this intention that this palace was created. It has massive gardens named as ‘The Great Parterre.’ It also houses a zoo called the ‘Tiergarten Schönbrunn.’ The Tiergarten is known to be the oldest in the world, formed as early as 1752. A huge maze is also part of the gardens. The entrance court of the palace spreads over miles and miles of land.
The Schonbrunn Palace is especially noteworthy today because it is one of the central tourist spots in Vienna. People desirous of catching a glimpse into the historical past of the city may well walk through its gardens, which possesses nearly thirty two sculptures. It is one of the best maintained palaces in the world and is presently named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The image of this palace has been imprinted on Austria’s commemorative silver coin valued at 10 Euro, as a symbol of its influence on Viennese people.
The great Palace of Versailles needs no introduction. This palace is perhaps the most representative of France after the Eiffel Tower. The ruler of France then, Louis XIV, had commissioned this building. Though Versailles was no more than a village then, it became the centre of political prestige due to this palace.
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The palace possesses the renowned Grands Appartements. These were dedicated solely the King and the Queen. They encompass almost an entire floor of the palace. The King’s apartments comprised of seven enormous rooms, each designed after a Roman deity. This is only one example of the opulence that the palace enjoyed.
Today, it is breathtaking to stroll through these endless rooms that once housed the most powerful man in France. The palace is particularly known for its gardens. The Gardens of Versailles are exemplary of classic French landscaping. Another astounding feature of the palace is its Hall of Mirrors. This room stretches across 235 feet and has seventeen mirrors. It served as a ball room to French officials.
An Amalgamation of Cultures
Turkey has fascinated visitors a long time with its heady cultural mix of Asian and European cultures. One of the best examples of this is the Dolmabahçe Palace. The greatest feature to this immense palace is the interesting blend of styles that it entails.
Not only does it use the traditional Ottoman architecture that is native to this place, but it also picks the best from Neoclassical, Baroque, and Rococo schools. That the palace and the political era itself have been influenced by European trends is evident in the facade of the palace. Inside the palace, however, we see a customary division of space and rooms, the way it is meant to be in a Turkish residence
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Built on an area of 11.2 acres, this building was separated into three sections: one for the royal family, another served as the meeting hall of the Sultan, and the last was reserved for visiting male officials. Together, the palace has a staggering number of 285 rooms with 46 halls and 6 enormous bathrooms, or hamams, as they were called.
The major attraction of the Dolmabahçe Palace is its crystal staircase. This staircase is known to be built completely out of one of the most expensive types of crystal, Baccarat. Apart from crystal, the staircase comprises of mahogany and brass. The ceiling of the staircase is also made of crystal and is a sight to behold. The staircase is not the only construction to employ large amounts of crystal; the entire palace has several crystal chandeliers as well, apart from extravagant bearskin rugs.
One cannot think of palaces and leave out the most majestic of all countries, Japan. Japan boasts of the distinguished Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The palace is not one single structure, but comprises of several large buildings, each designed to a purpose. The Imperial Palace was built when the illustrious Edo castle had fallen.
And so, it was only logical for this palace to have remnants of the erstwhile Edo. The large receptions halls have been preserved as it is the custom of the Japanese to have these instead of courts. The palace also suffered during the World War and so has been altered since then as well.
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Today, the main building of the palace is situated in a large area similar to a park. It is surrounded by a moat and huge stone walls have been erected around it, true to the fortress style that Edo had. The palace grounds boast of huge gardens, but not all are open to the public.
One of these gardens, the Ninomaru Garden is known for the trees it has. Here, one can see a tree for each prefecture, or locality, that Japan has. Apart from rolling gardens, the palace possesses a music hall and a teahouse. Both of these are quite well-known.