From an early age, we are all enthralled by the stories of kings and queens, knights and their quests and, of course, the palaces they live in. While the fairy tales may just be stories, the beauty and majesty of the castles around the world can still captivate our imaginations. The best part is that we can visit many of them.
Palace of Versailles, France. Topping the list of castles and palaces is the Palace of Versailles. Built in the 1600 by King Louis XIV, Versailles is the pinnacle of opulence. From the lush gardens to the famous Hall of Mirrors, there is nothing that comes close to the majesty on display at Versailles. When you visit, don’t miss the tours of the Royal Chapel and the Royal Opera, take a boat down the Grand Canal or just relax and soak in the scenery in the Orangery.
Alhambra, Spain. Built in the 13th century above Granada, the palace at Alhambra uniquely features a combination of Moorish and European influences. The influence of these North African Muslims is seen in the architecture and the intricate carvings that feature Arabic writings and motifs. Plan on spending the day walking through the complex, visiting the Alcazaba fortress, the Nasrid palace, the Generalife ancient summer palace.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany. You’re not wrong to think this castle looks familiar. That’s because Walt Disney used it as inspiration for the castle at Disneyland. Built in the 19th century by Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a tribute to the composer Richard Wagner, with inspiration from Byzantine churches (especially in the throne room), and Roman and Gothic architecture.
Forbidden City, China. China’s Forbidden City is the world’s largest palace complex. The 180-acre walled city shielded its emperors from the public. The mortar for the walls is actually made of egg whites and glutinous rice – and has lasted for centuries. But the main attraction is the complex itself, consisting of nearly 1000 buildings, various gardens and ceremonial traditions.
Topkapi Palace, Turkey. For nearly 400 years, Topkapi Palace was the home to rulers of the Ottoman Empire. At one point it housed over 5,000 people, including many concubines and eunuchs. Don’t miss the tour of the harem, which consists of over 400 rooms, halls, terraces and apartments that get more luxurious as you progress through the complex.
Hawa Mahal, India. This unique palace in Jaipur, India, was built by King Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh for the women of the court so that they could get some fresh air and enjoy the view of the city’s bustling streets. The pink castle is built of sandstone, with overhanging windows on every floor to let in the breeze. It is also built to resemble Krishna’s crown, as the King was a devoted follower of Krishna. One thing that you’ll notice: even though there are 5 floors, there are no stairs. Ramps were used so that the women could be carried on litters called palanquins.
Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia. As the home to the tsars of Russia from 1762 to 1917, the Winter Palace speaks to the opulent tastes of the Russian elite. The palace has one of the finest collections of artwork in Europe, including pieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian and Raphael.
Windsor Castle, England. Windsor Castle is the only castle in England to be continuously inhabited by the Royal Family since the Middle Ages. It is also the largest inhabited castle in the world. William the Conqueror began building in 1070, and it has been added to and redesigned much over the years. In fact, Charles II updated the castle in an attempt to keep up with his cousin Louis XIV and his castle at Versailles.
Are you ready to experience the castles of palaces of kings and queens? Let Luxury Destinations Concierge plan your royal trip. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
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