Musement takes a journey around the great continent to look at some of the most stunning castles in Europe.
Starting at the Royal Palace of Madrid and finishing at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, all of our stops include a good dose of aristocratic luxury and regal architecture.
1. Royal Palace, Madrid
Can you imagine a palace with more than 3,400 rooms? The official residence of the Spanish royal family in Madrid has this many, distributed through no more and no less than 1,253,128 square feet of space. This eighteenth-century fortress was inspired by Bernini’s designs for the Louvre in Paris. Currently, the royal family lives at the Zarzuela Palace so the Royal Palace is now used for official proceedings only.
2. Palace of Fontainebleau, Paris
Only an hour away from Paris by car is the Palace of Fontainebleau, a Renaissance fortress that was the official residence of the French monarchs from Louis VII to Napoleon III. Today it is a national museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Mannerist style that you can see in the interior decor of the castle– including sculptures, paintings, and goldsmithing–has come to be known as the Fontainebleau style.
3. Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
The gloriousness of Vienna would not be the same without Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Hapsburg monarchy. Part of this Baroque masterpiece is open to the public, which has made it one of the most visited buildings in the Austrian capital. Stroll through the grandiose rooms that have been kept in their original states and don’t miss the Gloriette or the Obelisk Fountain.
4. Palace of Versailles, Paris
Take a trip to eighteenth-century France and revel in the beautiful architecture of the Palace of Versailles. Located about 12 miles from Paris, the palace continues to carry out some of its traditional political functions today. Above all, however, it is a popular destination for those looking to spend the day outside of the French capital.
5. Buckingham Palace, London
Since 1837, the magical Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of the United Kingdom’s sovereigns. Official events take place in its magnificent State Rooms, which are open to the public during the summer when the Queen leaves London to stay at her summer residence. Who wouldn’t want to set foot in the famous Throne Room?
6. Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg
Located 18 miles from St. Petersburg, Peterhof Palace is more than a single palace—it is a complex complete with a beautiful park. The main, Baroque-style palace, called the Grand Palace, was the summer residence of the czars until the October Russian Revolution in 1917. It became a museum the following year. The two parks, the Upper Garden and the Lower Park, are full of fountains and cascades as well as a greenhouse, pavilion, and other monuments.
7. Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin
Charlottenburg Palace, a symbol of the Baroque and Rococo Germans, stands in the center of Berlin. It owes its name to Sophia Charlotte of Hanover (wife of King Frederick I of Prussia), who commissioned its construction. This palace used to be the residence of the royal family of Prussia and today it is the biggest palace in the German capital. It is also one of the city’s most visited attractions.
8. Pitti Palace, Florence
A few steps from the iconic Ponte Vecchio in Florence is the Pitti Palace. Constructed in the fifteenth century, it was originally the urban residence of the Florentine banker, Lucca Pitti. Then, various important Italian historical figures passed through like the Medici family, Napoleon I, and the royals of Italy until it became a public building that houses a grand art museum.
9. Pena Palace, Sintra
Construction of the National Palace of Pena started in 1836. Standing atop a steep hill, the storybook palace is an excellent example of Portuguese Romanticism. The Portuguese royals resided during the nineteenth century, although it had to be reconstructed after an earthquake. Thanks to the architectural richness, Sintra was declared a World Heritage Site.
10. Winter Palace, St. Petersburg
In the middle of the eighteenth century, Elizabeth I of Russia ordered the construction of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. This was the official residence of the Russian monarchs until 1917 when the palace was stormed, the start of the Russian Revolution. Known for its green and white facade, the palace is now home to the Hermitage Museum.