1. the Alhambra
The Alhambra Palace in Granada is one of the most beautiful places in Spain. Built by the Moors, the Muslim conquerors of Spain in the 14th century, it served as the residence of several sultans of Granada. The palace was built in typical Moorish style and is decorated with intricate stonework.
One of the palace's notable features is the use of courtyards and fountains that create a sense of airiness in the complex, an innovation entirely unknown to European architecture of the time. But the feature that most strikes modern visitors is the skilful subtlety of the work, embodied in the most intricate details. It is said, for example, that there are more than five thousand carved niches on the domed roof of the Abenserrages Hall.
2. The incomparable palace.
King Henry VIII of England, a man of great appetite and envy, could not bear the thought of being considered a lesser monarch than his continental rivals. The palaces he inherited were rather filthy, and so he decided to build a palace equal in status to that of the king of France.
This palace was conceived as a jewel of Renaissance architecture; no building could compare with it in the whole world. So Henry decided to call it "The Incomparable."
Although it was the most magnificent palace in Britain, few of Henry's successors were particularly attached to it. Charles II gave it to his mistress. When she fell on hard times because of gambling debts, she sold the palace to use it for building materials. Today there is nothing left of the palace except fragments encased in other buildings.
3. Winter Palace
The Winter Palace of St. Petersburg was home to the rulers of Russia. When it was attacked during the revolution of 1917, it changed Russian history forever. The entire royal family was shot. The palace had more than 1,500 rooms, and the largest one held 10,000 people. It even had its own cathedral.
After the revolution, the Communist army robbed the palace and discovered a wine cellar. And what a wine cellar it was - the alcohol in it was enough to ignite a month-long binge, which historians call "the greatest hangover in history."
The Palace of Versailles, a short drive from Paris, was originally the hunting lodge of King Louis XIII. His successors, particularly Louis XIV, completed it until the name "Versailles" became synonymous with wealth.
Versailles' magnificent reputation grew when Louis XIV decided that his court would reside permanently in the palace. This reception, to concentrate his power, allowed him to keep the sometimes capricious nobility under his control.
However, it also served to separate the nobility from the people of France and thus may have contributed to the ultimate downfall of the monarchy. Of course, the luxurious life in the palace displeased the French, who barely had enough bread.
Marie Antoinette, adding salt to the wound, built an imitation village where she could pretend to be a peasant.
The Potala Palace in Lhasa, the traditional home of the Dalai Lamas, is the tallest palace in the world. The thirteen-story building was once the tallest residential building in the world. The present palace is really a synthesis of two palaces, the White Palace and the Red Palace, built at different times. Construction has been going on at this site since the 7th century, although the present facade dates from a much later period. Since the current Dalai Lama fled the Chinese, the palace has become the most popular tourist attraction in Tibet.
6. Nero's Golden House.
Domus Aurea, which means Golden House, belonged to the Roman Emperor Nero. It was one of the greatest private residences ever built. As an ancient city, Rome was a chaotic jumble of winding streets and cramped high-rise buildings, accommodating a huge population in a limited space.
There was little room for magnificent palaces. However, thanks to the great fire in Rome in AD 64, which destroyed much of the aristocratic area on Palatine Hill, space was made available.
Nero's enemies, who, to his misfortune, wrote history books, say that Nero sang while Rome was burning. If this is true, it may have been because he knew that destruction would give him a chance to claim enough land to build a palace worthy of himself.
Domus Aurea occupied no less than 40 acres of the city and included an extensive private swimming pool and simulated farmhouses to give the impression of the rural idyll that many Romans longed for. Inside the house itself were rooms with exquisite frescoes. One of the dining rooms had a rotating ceiling that allowed one to watch the motion of the stars without leaving the house.
Upon seeing the completed palace, Nero exclaimed with typical restraint, "At last I can live like a man."
After his death, the palace was given to public use. The colossal statue of Nero was removed from the palace. Later a stadium called the Colosseum was built on the new site.