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 their own unique standard 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[edit]

The first point of contention[according to whom?] surrounding 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.[citation needed]

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 "World's largest palace by volume" would be the Royal Palace of Caserta, with more than 2 million cubic meters (70 million cubic feet).[1]

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.[2]

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."[3]

Faux Palaces[edit]

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,[4] but it was never a royal residence. In fact, the building was begun in 1980, while Romania’s last monarch abdicated in 1947.

Another example is England’s Palace of Westminster. Like the Palace of the Parliament, the Palace of Westminster is a massive parliament building carrying the “palace” title. However, unlike the Palace of the Parliament, there was once a royal Palace of Westminster that served as a residence for the monarch. But that building was largely destroyed by fire in 1512, and the present building standing on the site was built exclusively for the parliament, and not as a royal residence.

Converted Palaces[edit]

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 over the centuries it went through several renovations and additions, only reaching its current size of 652,298 square feet (60,600 m2) in 1988, as the modern Louvre Museum.[5]

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.[6] 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.

Uninhabited Palaces[edit]

With 1,453,122 square feet (134,999 m2) of floorspace,[7] the Royal Palace of Madrid is often considered the largest functioning palace in Europe [5], 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[edit]

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,[8] to hold the title as the “world's largest palace.”[further explanation needed]

Comparison of World's Largest Palaces[edit]

Name Location Floor Area Notes Source
1 Louvre Palace France Paris 210,000 square metres (2,260,421 sq ft) Largest palace in the world by area. 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). [9]
Louvre Palace
2 Istana Nurul Iman Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan 200,000 square metres (2,152,782 sq ft) Official residence of the Sultan of Brunei. [10][better source needed]
Istana Nurul Iman Palace
3 Apostolic Palace Vatican City Vatican City 162,000 square metres (1,743,753 sq ft) Current Papal Palace and Vatican Museums in Rome. [11]
Apostolic Palace
4 Forbidden City China 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. [12]
Forbidden City
5 Royal Palace of Madrid Spain Madrid 135,000 square metres (1,453,128 sq ft) The largest functioning palace in Europe. [13]
Royal Palace of Madrid
6 Quirinal Palace Italy 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). [14][15]
Quirinal Palace in Rome
7 Buckingham Palace United Kingdom London 77,000 square metres (828,821 sq ft) Controversially claims to be the world’s largest working palace, despite its smaller floor area. [16]
Buckingham Palace
8 Topkapi Palace Turkey Istanbul, Turkey 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. [17][18]
Topkapi Palace
9 Palace of Versailles France 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. [19]
Palace of Versailles
10 Royal Palace of Stockholm Sweden 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.
Royal Palace of Stockholm
11 Palace of Caserta Italy 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. [20]
Reggia di Caserta
12 Winter Palace Russia Saint Petersburg 60,000 square metres (645,835 sq ft) Currently part of 1,978,622 square feet (183,820 m2) Hermitage Museum. [21]
The Winter Palace
13 Windsor Castle United Kingdom Windsor, Berkshire 45,000 square metres (484,376 sq ft) World’s largest inhabited castle. [22]
Windsor Castle
14 Mafra National Palace Portugal 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.
Palácio Nacional de Mafra - 1853l
15 El Escorial Spain 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. [23]
El Escorial
16 Grand Kremlin Palace Russia 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. [24]
Grand Kremlin Palace
17 Rashtrapati Bhavan India 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 East façade of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace in India


  1. ^ 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" [1]
  2. ^ See reference on official website
  3. ^
  4. ^ Official Chamber of Deputies information website
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^
  7. ^ Royal Palace of Madrid statistics verified by official website, See also Palacio Real (Cyberspain)
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ See the voice Vatican Palace
  12. ^
  13. ^ Royal Palace of Madrid statistics verified by official website, See also Palacio Real (Cyberspain)
  14. ^ See reference on official Italian Republic's Presidency website
  15. ^ "Il Quirinale, la residenza più vasta del mondo". Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  16. ^ See reference on official British monarchy website
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ See reference on official website
  20. ^ 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" [3]
  21. ^
  22. ^ 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 [4]
  23. ^
  24. ^