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European Architecture: 5 Most Beautiful Palaces in Europe

The Hermitage's Winterpalace in St. Petersburg with Horse Carriage
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Don’t you just love old European architectural wonders? We certainly do! Previously we wrote about some of the most interesting Medieval castles and this time we bring you 5 most beautiful palaces in Europe. Keep reading to find out why they are so special.

Alhambra, Granada

Set on a hilltop in Granada, the Alhambra (lit. “The Red One“, “The Red Fortress”) is one of the most interesting and unique palaces in Europe. This 12-centuries-old palace is an example of a perfect mixture of different cultures and different architectural styles. It’s not only one palace like you maybe imagine it to be, but it’s a whole complex of palaces and gardens where you can learn quite a bit about Spanish history and see some of the most beautiful examples of Moorish architecture.

Interested to learn more about what makes Granada’s Alhambra palace so special? In one of our older blog posts, we listed 10 things you need to know about Alhambra, so make sure to check it out.

Most beautiful palaces in Europe: A courtyard of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain
The Alhambra palace — a perfect mixture of different architectural styles

The Palace of Versailles, France

We’ve mentioned a few of the most picturesque places in Paris, mostly set around the city center, but if you decide to explore it a bit further from the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, you will find what might be one of the most visited attractions in Paris (after the Eiffel Tower) — the Palace of Versailles. More than 10 million people visit this palace each year and they can’t deny how extravagant and gorgeous this symbol of French royal power is.

This marvelous palace is a place where you can learn about French history and the life of its former monarchs. Before it became a royal palace, it was just a small hunting lodge that belonged to Louis XIII. In the 17th century, his son Louis XIV expanded it and transformed it into the court and government of France. It served its purpose until the end of the French revolution. Still, it serves some political functions, as the heads of the state and politicians meet in some of its many gorgeous rooms.

If you get the chance to visit the palace one day, there are a few areas to see. The most important is, of course, the main palace itself, with 2,300 rooms including the famous Hall of Mirrors, Marie-Antoinette’s bedrooms, the King’s Apartments, and Royal Bedchamber. After the palace, prepare yourself to be amazed by its huge gardens full of interesting sculptures and fountains and Trianon Estates buildings, and the Queen’s Hamlet as well.

Most beautiful palaces in Europe: The Palace of Versailles next to Paris with its beautiful gardens
The Palace of Versailles — the most visited attraction in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower

The Pena National Palace, Sintra

If we could name only one reason to visit a small Portuguese town called Sintra, it would be to see its colorful Pena National Palace (Portuguese: Palácio da Pena)! The beautifully ornamented, romantic palace sits on top of the Sintra Mountain, near the town of Sintra, and it is said that it can easily be seen from Lisbon on a clear day.

The Pena national palace is one of the finest palaces in Europe and a major Portuguese tourist attraction. It represents the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture, but with details of eclectic styles including Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic, and Neo-Renaissance, which is especially notable when you take a look around its interiors.

The Pena National Palace, just like the rest of Sintra, has UNESCO World Heritage status and is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It’s a national monument and nowadays used for official occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic.

Most beautiful palaces in Europe: The colorful Pena palace in Portugal
Colorful Pena National Palace in Sintra

The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg

The Winter Palace (Russian: Зимний дворец) is a marvelous building located on the banks of the Neva River, in St. Petersburg. The palace was the official residence of Russian Emperors from the mid-18 century, until the October Revolution in 1917. Today, it is a part of the Hermitage Museum complex, where you can see different collections of antiquities, paintings, sculptures, and decorative artworks of Europe, Euroasia, and the East.

This elegant Rococo palace will make you feel like a royal! It was constructed on a monumental scale with the intent to show the power and might of Imperial Russia. It is recognizable for its pretty blue and white façade and pale green rooftop. But did you know that the rooftop wasn’t always green? It was repainted several times! It used to be red and pink, and when the Winter Palace was damaged by air raids and shelling during World War II, it was painted gray for camouflage purposes. The present pale shade of green decorates the palace since 1946.

Most beautiful palaces in Europe: The Hermitage's Winterpalace in St. Petersburg with Horse Carriage
The elegant Winter Palace — a part of the Hermitage museum

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Vienna, the lovely Austrian capital, is a historic city full of gorgeous palaces. One of the most impressive palaces in Europe is the Schönbrunn Palace. This gorgeous place, whose name means “beautiful spring,” is located a bit further from the city center, and it served as the summer residence for the Emperor. The amazing Rococo palace was built in the 16th century, and its 1,441 rooms never cease to amaze its many visitors.

The Schönbrunn Palace is a real architectural jewel of royal Austria, but it’s not only the main building that you have to see — its gardens are out of this world! You must take a walk through its huge park and admire the fountains and all the statues that you’ll stumble upon. Also, you shouldn’t miss the most amazing greenhouse ever, called Palmenhaus (“palm house”), which is also a part of this complex. It’s a true tropical paradise in Vienna — click here to read more about it.

If you have the intention to visit this lovely complex, be sure that you’ll have to spend one whole day over there if you want to fully enjoy it. You won’t regret a second spent over there — we promise!

Most beautiful palaces in Europe: The Schönbrunn Palace
The Schönbrunn Palace — the Emperor’s summer residence

These were a few of the most beautiful European palaces. Don’t consider this post as a definite list — we only picked 5 of our favorites. If you’d love to do a palace tour around Europe, it would last for soooo many days — that’s how much gorgeous palaces in Europe there are. We’d love to read what are your favorites, so feel free to leave a comment down below.

P.S. You can find a digital tour around Palmenhaus on our Cultural Places platform. Go, check it out, and enjoy learning about different plants that you can find there.

 

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The Emperor’s Greenhouse: Palm House

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This audio tour of the Palm House Schönbrunn will enable you to discover more than 4,000 plants from every continent.

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