World's largest palace
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The title of the “world's largest palace” is difficult to ascertain, and controversial, as many different countries use different standards to claim that their palace is the largest in the world.
At the center of the controversy are three questions: Which physical measurements should be considered? For which functions must a building be used to qualify as a palace? How long must those functions have been carried out for a building to be regarded as a "palace"?
Largest by area
The first point of contention[according to whom?] about the title of “world’s largest palace” concerns which physical measurement to use in drawing comparisons between them. Some people[who?] feel that only the area occupied by the structure itself (the "footprint") should be considered, while others[who?] argue that the surrounding grounds should be included, also.
The title of “world's largest palace by area enclosed within the palace’s fortified walls” is held by China’s Forbidden City complex, which covers an area of 720,000 square meters (178 acres). The 980 buildings of the Forbidden City have a combined floorspace of 1,614,600 square feet (150,001 m2) and contain roughly 9,000 rooms.
The title of “world’s largest royal domain,” as measured by the total area of the property, goes to the Palace of Versailles. Versailles’s grounds cover 87,728,720 square feet (8,150,265 m2), or 2,014 acres, including 230 acres of gardens. The palace itself contains 721,206 square feet (67,002 m2) of floorspace.
In the castle category, Prague Castle claims to be world's largest. However, despite the singular name, Prague Castle is not a single building. Like the Forbidden City, it comprises a number of palaces, temples, and halls (constructed over several centuries) that share a common defensive wall. Altogether, the complex covers 18 acres, leading to the self-appointed title of “Largest coherent castle complex in the world."
The second area of controversy[according to whom?] regards function. While many buildings carry the title of “palace,” they either are no longer, or were never intended to be, used as a royal residence.
Romania’s Palace of the Parliament contains 3,552,120 square feet (330,003 m2) of floorspace, but it was never a royal residence. In fact, the building was begun in 1980, while Romania’s last monarch abdicated in 1947.
England’s Palace of Westminster was built in the Middle Ages as a royal residence. It served as the principal residence of the monarch until the 1522, when Henry VIII moved his court to the newly acquired Palace of Whitehall. Since that time, the palace at Westminster has been used by the House of Lords, the House of Commons and various courts. The majority of the medieval palace was destroyed by fire in 1834, with construction of the current building starting in 1840. The palace which now stands on the site was designed specifically for parliamentary use, however it is the property of The Crown and retains its status as a royal residence. Very little of the medieval palace survived, but the most significant is Westminster Hall, built in 1097 during the reign of William II.
Further complicating the picture of “world’s largest palace” are former royal residences that reached their current grand sizes after they ceased being used as royal residences, and were converted to some other purpose.
The best example of such subsequent expansion is the Louvre Palace. As a royal residence, the Louvre Palace was much smaller than the modern day Louvre Museum. The Louvre Palace was abandoned as a royal residence in 1682, when Louis XIV moved his court to the Palace of Versailles. The Louvre Palace was relegated to the role of displaying royal collections and hosting administrative services, and over the centuries it went through several renovations, expansions and additions, including a significant one as an Imperial Palace during the second French Empire in the 19th century. It only reached its current size of 2,260,421 square feet (210,000 m2) in 1988, as the modern Louvre Museum.
Russia's Winter Palace and its annexes were not expanded after the Revolution, but the State Hermitage Museum also occupies other buildings which add to the size of the museum, but not to the palace. The Winter Palace contained 645,835 square feet (60,000 m2) of floorspace as a royal residence. However, the modern Hermitage Museum complex, centered on the Winter Palace, contains 1,978,622 square feet (183,820 m2) of floorspace. This includes the Small and the Old Hermitage buildings that were annexes to the main palace, which were used by the Imperial Court and are part of the palace complex. The same is true of the New Hermitage, that was used as a museum for the Imperial collections ever since it was built. All three Hermitages and the Hermitage Theatre can therefore be considered both independent buildings and wings of the Winter Palace. Despite a size which overshadows most other great palaces in Europe, the Winter Palace does not contain as much floorspace, because most of the State apartments in the north and east wings are only two floors high.
With 1,453,122 square feet (134,999 m2) of floorspace, the Royal Palace of Madrid is often considered the largest functioning palace in Europe , as it is still used for state functions. Although Spanish monarchs once occupied it, the current King of Spain does not, instead living at the much smaller Palace of Zarzuela
Although notably smaller than several other palaces throughout the world, with only 658,858 square feet (61,210 m2) of floorspace, the Royal Palace of Stockholm also claims to be “the largest palace in the world still used for its original purpose.” Yet, like the Royal Palace of Madrid, it is not currently occupied, with Swedish monarchs instead occupying Drottningholm Palace.
Guinness World Record
While numerous claimants under the various measurements can be recognized, to be considered for the Guinness World Record the palace must have once been intended for use as a royal residence. Furthermore, only the combined area of all floors in the palace (a measurement commonly known as floorspace) is considered.
Using these criteria, Guinness World Records currently considers Istana Nurul Iman, with 2,152,782 square feet (200,000 m2) of floorspace, to hold the title as the “world's largest palace.”[further explanation needed]
Largest former palace complexes
In ancient times palace buildings could be as large or even larger than existing palace buildings. Some examples are - the palace of Knossos on Greek island Crete. This palace with construction start in 2000 BC reach its biggest size in 1500 BC with a size of 20.000 square meters (215 278.208 square feet) and 1300 rooms.
The Roman emperor Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, Italy. The Villa was a complex of over 30 buildings build between 118 and the 130s A.D, covering an area of at least 250 acres (1 mio square meters) (10.763.910 square feet) of which much is still unexcavated. The villa was the greatest Roman example of an Alexandrian garden, recreating a sacred landscape. The complex included palaces, several thermae, theatre, temples, libraries, state rooms, and quarters for courtiers, praetorians, and slaves.
When Roman emperor Nero's “Golden House” (Domus Aurea) was built after the great fire of A.D. 64, the buildings covered up to 300 acres (1.214.056 square meters)(13.067.990 Square feet). The main villa of the complex had more than 300 rooms.
Comparison of world's large palaces
|1||Hofburg Palace||Vienna||240,000 square metres (2,583,339 sq ft)||Former imperial palace in the centre of Vienna. Part of the palace forms the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. Built in the 13th century and expanded in the centuries since, the palace has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, including monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the principal imperial winter residence, The palace has 2600 rooms.|||
|2||Louvre Palace||Paris||210,000 square metres (2,260,421 sq ft)||Royal residence of the kings of France for 300 years, the modern day Louvre Museum exhibitions occupy 60,600 square metres (652,293 sq ft). The entire palace complex occupies 40 hectares (4,305,564 sq ft) (400 000 square meters).|||
|3||Ak Saray||Ankara||200.000 square metres (2,153 sq ft)||The official presidential palace of the Republic of Turkey since 2014.|||
|4||Istana Nurul Iman||Bandar Seri Begawan||200,000 square metres (2,152,782 sq ft)||Official residence of the Sultan of Brunei.||[better source needed]|
|5||Apostolic Palace||Vatican City||162,000 square metres (1,743,753 sq ft)||Current Papal Palace and Vatican Museums in Rome.|||
|6||Forbidden City||Beijing||150,000 square metres (1,614,587 sq ft)||With an enclosed area of 720,000 square meters (178 acres), it is the world's largest palace complex.|||
|7||Royal Palace of Madrid||Madrid||135,000 square metres (1,453,128 sq ft)||The largest functioning palace in Europe.|||
|8||Quirinal Palace||Rome||110,500 square metres (1,189,412 sq ft)||Ancient Pope's palace and current presidential palace of the President of the Italian Republic. The presidential residence also has a garden with an area of 430,556,417 square feet (40.000 square metres or 4 hectares).|||
|9||Falaknuma Palace||Hyderabad||93,971 square metres (1,011,495 sq ft)||Built in the year 1889 in Hyderabad, India it was owned by the Nizams, the rulers of the princely state of Hyderabad, up to 1947.|
|10||Palace of Venaria||Tuin||80,000 square metres (861,113 sq ft)||Former royal residence located in Venaria Reale, near Turin, in Piedmont, northern Italy. It is one of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy, included in the UNESCO Heritage List in 1997. The palace garden covers 80 hectare (800.000 square meters). The entire estate with La Mandria park are more than 6.000 hectares (60 square kilometers) enclosed by a 35 km (22 miles) long wall.|||
|11||Buckingham Palace||London||77,000 square metres (828,821 sq ft)||Controversially claims to be the world’s largest working palace, despite its smaller floor area.|||
|12||Prague Castle||Prague||70,000 square metres (753,474 sq ft)||Seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Guinness Book of Records lists Prague Castle as the largest ancient castle in the world. at about 570 meters in length and an average of about 130 meters wide.|||
|13||Topkapi Palace||Istanbul||70,000 square metres (753,474 sq ft)||Primary residence of the Ottoman Dynasty for approximately 400 years. The entire palace complex including grounds occupies 700,000 square metres.|||
|14||Palace of Versailles||Versailles||67,000 square metres (721,182 sq ft)||World’s largest royal domain with 87,728,720 square feet (8,150,265 m2) or 2,014 acres of palace grounds.|||
|15||Royal Palace of Stockholm||Stockholm||61,210 square metres (658,859 sq ft)||Controversially claims to be world's largest palace still used for its original purpose, despite its smaller floor area.|
|16||Palace of Caserta||Caserta||61,000 square metres (656,599 sq ft)||Royal Palace of House of Bourbon. It is the largest royal palace of the World by volume, with 2 millions cubic meters.|||
|17||Winter Palace||Saint Petersburg||60,000 square metres (645,835 sq ft)||Currently part of 1,978,622 square feet (183,820 m2) Hermitage Museum.|||
|18||Christiansborg Palace||Copenhagen||51,660 square metres (556,064 sq ft)||The seat of the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. Also, several parts of the palace are used by the monarchy, including the Royal Reception Rooms, the Palace Chapel and the Royal Stables. Christiansborg Palace has a more than 800 year-long history as the state’s centre of power as royal palace and parliament.|||
|19||Windsor Castle||Windsor, Berkshire||45,000 square metres (484,376 sq ft)||World’s largest inhabited castle.|||
|20||Grand Serail||Beirut||39,970 square metres (430,233 sq ft)||Headquarters of the Prime Minister of Lebanon|
|21||Mafra National Palace||Palácio Nacional de Mafra||39,948 square metres (429,997 sq ft)||The Mafra National Palace is a monumental Baroque and Italianized Neoclassical palace-monastery located in Mafra, Portugal.|
|22||Palazzo Pitti||Florence||32,000 square metres (344,445 sq ft)||Renaissance, palace, the core of the present palazzo dates from 1458. The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In the late 18th century, the palazzo was used as a power base by Napoleon, and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy. The complex also includes the Boboli Gardens (320,000 square meters).|||
|23||Frederiksborg Palace||Hillerød||31,290 square metres (336,803 sq ft)||It was built as a royal residence for King Christian IV and is now a museum of national history. The current edifice replaced a previous castle erected by Frederick II and is the largest Renaissance palace in Scandinavia. The entire palace complex including grounds occupies 95 hektar (950,000 square metres). |||
|24||Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi||Nichelino||31,050 square metres (334,219 sq ft)||Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi is one of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy in northern Italy, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.|||
|25||El Escorial||San Lorenzo de El Escorial||30,658 square metres (330,000 sq ft)||Monastery of the Order of Saint Augustine, Royal Palace and Royal Pantheon.|||
|26||Kronborg||Helsingør||28,724 square metres (309,183 sq ft)||Immortalized as Elsinore in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Kronborg is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe and has been added to UNESCO's World Heritage Sites list (2000).|||
|27||Amalienborg||Copenhagen||26,500 square metres (285,244 sq ft)||Home of the Danish royal family, It consists of four identical classical palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard, in the centre of the square is a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg's founder, King Frederick V.|||
|28||Grand Kremlin Palace||Moscow||24,100 square metres (259,410 sq ft)||It includes the earlier Terem Palace, nine churches from the 14th, 16th, and 17th centuries, the Holy Vestibule, and over 700 rooms.|||
|29||Rashtrapati Bhavan||New Delhi||18,581 square metres (200,004 sq ft)||It is now the official residence of the President of India. The main palace building has 340 rooms. The entire President Estate is 130 hectare (320 acre) in area and includes huge presidential gardens (Mughal Gardens), open spaces, residences of bodyguards and staff, stables, other offices and utilities within its perimeter walls.|
- The surface in square meters might be bigger, some sources claim it to be 61000 square meters. See page 6, the box "I numeri della Reggia di Caserta" 
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- "Visit to Prague Castle". hrad.cz. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
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- "Musee de Louvre". paris-city-line.com. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- "Çèìíèé äâîðåö". spb-rf.ru. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- Royal Palace of Madrid statistics verified by official website, See also Palacio Real (Cyberspain)
- Bartholomew, James. The Richest Man in the World, Penguin Books Ltd; New Ed edition (February 22, 1990). ISBN 0-14-010890-4, ISBN 978-0-14-010890-3
- Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Musée du Louvre". en.parisinfo.com. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- http://translate.google.it/translate?sl=it&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=it&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Favirel.unitus.it%2Fbd%2Fautori%2Fcallari%2Fpalazzi_roma%2Fpalazzi_monumentali.html See the voice Vatican Palace
- "unescoworldheritagesites.com". unescoworldheritagesites.com. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- See reference on official Italian Republic's Presidency website
- "Il Quirinale, la residenza più vasta del mondo". loveforitaly.it. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
- "See reference on official British monarchy website". royal.gov.uk. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- Guinness Book of Records entry on Pražský hrad
- "Topkapi Palace". MyDestination.com Istanbul Travel. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- "best-of-istanbul.com". best-of-istanbul.com. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- The surface in square meters might be bigger, some sources claim it to be 61,000 square meters. See page 6, the box "I numeri della Reggia di Caserta" 
- "Lov om Dronning Margrethe den Andens civilliste" [Act on Queen Margrethe the Second's civil list] (in Danish). Retsinformation.dk. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
- Calculated based on report of area destroyed in 1992 fire as being 9,000 meters squared which was reported to be about one fifth of the total area of the castle. See reference on official website 
- Frederiksborg Palace Elevation and Location
- "Cercedilla dreaming - Urban Walking in Spain - easy hiker". easyhiker.co.uk. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- Kronborg Castle at the website of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre
- Kronborg Elevation and Location
- Amalienborg Elevation and Location
- "Ì.Ì. Ïîñîõèí: Ðåêîíñòðóêöèÿ è ðåñòàâðàöèÿ Áîëüøîãî Êðåìëåâñêîãî Äâîðöà". posokhin.ru. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- See also Guinness World Records