Palaces are my favourite places to visit in Europe. They contain not only unique architecture, interior design, paintings and fountains but also tell the history of luxury and culture. Below are my top five palaces, what are yours?
1) Peterhof, St. Petersburg Russia
|Peterhof, Summer Palace
Peterfhof also known as the Summer Palace is located just an hour from the Hermitage, the Winter palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. The palace is accessible by boat or train from the centre of St. Petersburg, but it is recommended to visit by boat which leaves from the Hermitage as you get to see the front of the palace with all its fountains. You will be wowed by the fountains and gardens of this beautiful place. Built by Peter the Great in the Gulf of Finland, to rival Versailles, it was a great symbol of water and waves. You will find fountains playing cruel jokes on its visitors by shooting water at you unexpectedly. This was funnier during the age when people used to use flour in their hair which would turn into stiff dough on their heads. The interior is also a masterpiece! But for those that have only one day to explore it, the fountains are your priority!
2) Alhambra, Grenada Spain
Alhambra is a unique building which while built during the Moorish invasion of Spain, has Christian additions making it a unique blend of Muslim and Christian civilizations. The beauty of this Palace and Fortress is its many arches, columns, and ceilings that contain a lot of detail and unique design not to be seen anywhere else in Europe. It also contains a lot of history which changed the course of Europe. For those that love gardens and fountains, Grenada is full of green spaces which make it hard to climb in high heels but beautiful to see.
3) The Castle of Neuschwanstein, Germany
Neushwanstein Castle which is also referred to as a Cinderella castle is a well recognizable structure, due to Disney which uses it in the Cinderella story. It can also be seen in the Magical Kingdom. The beauty of this Castle is its close proximity to the Alps. It is the Bavarian castle of Ludwig II which was built as his sacred place where he got privately crowned by the grace of the Holy Grail. His wish was that the castle be destroyed upon his death however, a few weeks after his death, it was turned to a museum where tourists can still witness this King’s playground.
4) Pena National Palace, Sintra, Portugal
|Pena National Palace, Portugal
Standing at the top of the hill in Romantic Sintra, it is a very colourful palace which was built in the middle ages. It was originally built as a monastery and a place of pilgrimage however, after being damaged by lightening and an earthquake, the place was left untouched. In the late 19th century, the place was rebuilt to serve as a summer palace for the Portuguese royalty. The palace was built in the Romantic style, however, there are elements of Medieval and Islamic architecture making it a very unique palace.
5) The Royal Palace of Versailles, France
While Versailles is probably the most popular palace in the world, it is also the palace which subsequent palaces were built from and the palace that is always compared against. Versailles was used originally as a hunting and relaxing place for the French monarchy. It was re-built however, by the Sun King to showcase France as the centre of culture and luxury. To the French population it served the symbol of absolute monarchy which later lead to the French Revolution.