World's largest palace
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The title of the "world's largest palace" is difficult to award, and controversial, as different countries use different standards to claim that their palace is the largest in the world.
Palaces considered the largest
The title of "world's largest palace by area enclosed within the palace's fortified walls" is held by China's Forbidden City complex in Beijing, which covers an area of 728,000 square meters (180 acres). The 980 buildings of the Forbidden City have a combined floor space of 1,614,600 square feet (150,001 m2) and contain 9,999 rooms (9 being a lucky number in China).
The world's largest palace by both floor space and volume is the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania, which was built by communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in 1986. It has a floor space of 330,000 m2 and a volume of 2,550,000 m3. It is also the most expensive administrative building and heaviest building. 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 containing 3,418 rooms.
The title of "world's largest royal domain," as measured by the total area of the property, goes to Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The castle’s grounds cover 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres), or 200 square kilometres (77 sq mi)
The Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, with 1000 rooms on 13 levels, and over 130,000 square meters of floor space, 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. 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."
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, 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. 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 monarch in right 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.
Several palaces 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 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. 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. Furthermore, only the combined area of all floors in the palace (a measurement commonly known as floorspace) is considered.
According to the Guinness World Records, the Forbidden City in Beijing, China is the "largest palace in the world". The Istana Nurul Iman, with 2,152,782 square feet (200,000 m2) of floorspace, holds the title as the "world's largest residential palace".
Largest former palace complexes
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.
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.
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.
Comparison of world's large palaces
|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. 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.|||
|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.|||
|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).|||
|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.|||
|5||Istana Nurul Iman||Brunei||Bandar Seri Begawan||200,000 square metres (2,152,782 sq ft)||Official residence of the Sultan of Brunei. The largest functioning royal palace in the world.|||
|6||Apostolic Palace||Vatican City||Vatican City||162,000 square metres (1,743,753 sq ft)||Current Papal Palace and Vatican Museums in Rome.|||
|7||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.|||
|8||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.|||
|9||Royal Palace of Madrid||Spain||Madrid||135,000 square metres (1,453,128 sq ft)||The largest functioning palace in Europe.|||
|10||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).|||
|11||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.|
|12||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.|||
|13||Prague Castle||Czech Republic||Prague||70,000 square metres (753,474 sq ft)||Seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, presidents of Czechoslovakia and currently presidents of the Czech Republic. Dating back to the 9th century and at about 570 meters in length and an average of about 130 meters wide, the Guinness Book of Records lists Prague Castle as the largest ancient castle in the world.|||
|14||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.|||
|15||Palace of Versailles||France||Versailles||63,154 square metres (679,784 sq ft)||World's largest royal domain with 87,728,720 square feet (8,150,265 m2) or 2,014 acres of palace grounds.|||
|16||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.|
|17||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.|||
|18||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.|||
|19||Mannheim Palace||Germany||Mannheim||60,000 square metres (645,835 sq ft)||Mannheimer Residenz is the main palace of the Prince-electors of the Electorate of the Palatinate of the House of Wittelsbach. The 6 hectare (60,000 square meter) castle is one of Europe's largest palaces and the second largest baroque palace (after Versailles).|
|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.
|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.|||
|22||Hampton Court Palace||United Kingdom||Richmond upon Thames||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.|||
|23||Grand Serail||Lebanon||Beirut||39,970 square metres (430,233 sq ft)||Headquarters of the Prime Minister of Lebanon|
|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.|
|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 Castle of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels.|||
|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).|||
|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).|||
|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.|||
|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.|||
|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).|||
|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.|||
|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.|||
|33||Munich Residenz||Germany||Munich||23,000 square metres (247,570 sq ft)||The Residenz, with its 130 rooms and ten courtyards, is the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria and the largest city palace in Germany. The three main parts are the Königsbau, the Alte Residenz and the Festsaalbau. A wing of the Festsaalbau also contains the Cuvilliés Theatre and the Herkulessaal (Hercules Hall). Also included in The Residenz is the Byzantine Court Church of All Saints (Allerheiligen-Hofkirche) and the Marstall, the building for the former Court Riding School and the royal stables.|||
|34||Rashtrapati Bhavan||India||Delhi||200,000 square feet (18,581 m2)||The official presidential palace of the Republic of India.|||
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