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[edit]

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.[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 floor space" is the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania, which was built by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1986.[1] It is also the most expensive administrative building and heaviest building.[1] The "world's largest royal palace by floor space" is the Royal Palace of Madrid in Spain, with 135,000 square metres (1,450,000 sq ft) of floorspace and contains 3,418 rooms.[2][3]

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).[4]

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.[5]

The Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, with 1000 rooms on 13 levels, and over 130,000 square meters of floor space,[6] is one of the largest palaces in the world by floor area. It was the winter residence of the Dalai Lama until 1959. (Many sources, e.g.[7] give the area as 360,000 square meters.)

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."[8]

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, a sovereign residence or a bishop residence.

Romania's Palace of the Parliament contains 3,552,120 square feet (330,003 m2) of floorspace,[9] it was never a royal residence, as Romania's last monarch abdicated in 1947, but it was the palace intended to be used by the sovereign Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania's supreme ruler and dictator.

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 1522, when Henry VIII moved his court to the newly acquired Palace of Whitehall.[10] 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.

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 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.[11]

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.[12] 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 two floors high.

Uninhabited palaces[edit]

With 1,453,122 square feet (134,999 m2) of floorspace,[13] the Royal Palace of Madrid is often considered the largest functioning palace in Europe [3], 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. This is controversial as the definition of a palace is the official residence of a sovereign, chief of state (as a monarch or a president), archbishop, bishop.[14] 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,[15] to hold the title as the "world's largest palace."[further explanation needed]

Largest former palace complexes[edit]

Roman Villa Neuchâtel, Switzerland

In ancient times palace buildings could be as large or even larger than existing palace buildings. One example is the palace of Knossos on Greek island Crete. This palace, which started construction in 2000 BC, reached its biggest size in 1500 BC with a size of 20,000 square meters (215,278.208 square feet) and 1,300 rooms.[16]

The Roman emperor Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, Italy was a complex of over 30 buildings build between 118 and the 130s AD, covering an area of at least 250 acres (1 mio square meters, or 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.[17][18][19]

When Roman emperor Nero's "Golden House" (Domus Aurea) was built after the great fire of AD 64, the buildings covered up to 300 acres (1,214,056 square meters, or 13,067,990 square feet). The main villa of the complex had more than 300 rooms.[20][21]

Comparison of world's large palaces[edit]

Rank Name Location Floor Area Notes Source
1 Palace of the Parliament Romania Bucharest 330,000 square metres (3,552,090 sq ft) The Palace of the Parliament is the world's largest administrative building (for civilian use; The Pentagon in the United States is larger). It measures 270 m by 240 m, 86 m high, and 92 m under ground. It has 1,100 rooms and is 12 stories tall, with additional 8 underground levels.[22] The palace was intended to be used by the sovereign Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania's supreme ruler and dictator. Colossal parliament building known for its ornate interior, it is now housing the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, three museums and an international conference center. The National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Totalitarianism and Socialist Realism and the Museum of the Palace are hosted inside the palace.[23] [22][23]
2 Hofburg Palace Austria 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. [24][25]
Hofburg Palace
3 Louvre Palace France 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). [26][27]
Louvre Palace
4 Ak Saray Turkey Ankara 200,020 square metres (2,152,997 sq ft) The official presidential palace of the Republic of Turkey since 2014. [28][29]
Ak Saray (White Palace)
5 Rashtrapati Bhavan India Delhi 200,000 square metres (2,152,782 sq ft) The official presidential palace of the Republic of India. [30]
Rashtrapati Bhavan
6 Istana Nurul Iman Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan 200,000 square metres (2,152,782 sq ft) Official residence of the Sultan of Brunei. [15]
Istana Nurul Iman Palace
7 Apostolic Palace Vatican City Vatican City 162,000 square metres (1,743,753 sq ft) Current Papal Palace and Vatican Museums in Rome. [31]
Apostolic Palace
8 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. [32]
Forbidden City
9 Malbork Castle Poland Malbork 143,000 square metres (1,539,239 sq ft) Located in Poland, Malbork Castle is the largest castle in the world. The castle was founded in 1274 by the Teutonic Knights who used it as their headquarters to help defeat Polish enemies and rule their own northern Baltic territories. The castle was expanded several time to host the growing number of Knights until their retreat to Königsburg in 1466. [33]
Malbork Castle
10 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
11 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). [34][35]
Quirinal Palace in Rome
12 Falaknuma Palace India 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, until 1950.
Falaknuma Palace
13 Buckingham Palace United Kingdom London 77,000 square metres (828,821 sq ft) A royal residence since George III bought Buckingham House in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte and has been the official London residence of the UK’s sovereign since Queen Victoria took up residence in July 1837. The palace contains 775 rooms and has a garden 40 acres in size. It is also the world's largest working palace [36][37]
Buckingham Palace
14 Prague Castle Czech Republic 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. [38]
Prague Castle
15 Topkapi Palace Turkey 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. [39][40]
Topkapi Palace
16 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. [5]
Palace of Versailles
17 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
18 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. [41]
Reggia di Caserta
19 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. [12]
The Winter Palace
20 Windsor Castle United Kingdom Windsor 54,835 square metres (590,239 sq ft) Castle which dates back to around 1070 and has 5455 acres of royal parkland. Many famous people associated with British Royalty are buried in St Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle including Henry VIII.

It is also the World's largest and oldest inhabited castle.

Windsor Castle
21 Christiansborg Palace Denmark 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.[42][43] [44]
Christiansborg Palace
22 Hampton Court Palace United Kingdom Surrey 47,330 square metres (509,456 sq ft) Palace dating back to 1515 containing 1000 rooms and grounds comprising 60 acres of formal gardens and 750 acres of royal parkland. [45][46]
23 Grand Serail Lebanon Beirut 39,970 square metres (430,233 sq ft) Headquarters of the Prime Minister of Lebanon
Hamidiyyeh Clock Tower
24 Mafra National Palace Portugal 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
25 Royal Palace of Brussels Belgium Brussels 33,027 square metres (355,500 sq ft) Palace in Brussels dating back to 1783. The Royal Palace of Brussels is the official palace of the Sovereign of Belgium, However it is not used as a royal residence, as the king and his family live in the Royal Palace of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels. [47]
Bruxels April 2012-4.jpg
Bruxels April 2012-4
26 Palazzo Pitti Italy 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). [48]
Palazzo Pitti
27 Frederiksborg Palace Denmark 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).[49] [50]
Frederiksborg Palace
28 Schoenbrunn Palace Austria Vienna 31,056 square metres (334,284 sq ft) Baroque Palace dating back to the 1740s. The grounds of Schönbrunn, a World Heritage Site, cover 160 hectares. [51][52]
Schönbrunn, Viedeň, Rakúsko
29 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. [53]
El Escorial
30 Kronborg Denmark 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).[54][55] [56]
31 Amalienborg Denmark 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.[57] [58]
Amalienborg Palace
32 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. [59]
Grand Kremlin Palace


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