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The Traveller's Magazine
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Looking for a royal good time? These palaces and castles around the world will certainly feed your hunger for crystal chandeliers, grand gardens, dramatic family histories and remarkable wealth and the trouble that goes with it. Here are the most popular palaces and castles around the world.

Castles, palaces and royal residences are among some of the most visited places around the world, whether it’s the fairy-tale version like Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle or Bangkok’s gold-spired and exotic looking Grand Palace. Travellers just can’t get enough of them, just swing by Buckingham Palace on any given Saturday! But what are the most visited castles and palaces in the world? The top spot goes to China’s Forbidden City.

Forbidden City – Beijing

Beijing’s royal palace features bright red buildings that are topped with sparkling golden pagodas. It’s an exemplary example of Chinese architecture, at its finest, and the Palace Museum is the best place to learn about it. Dive into exhibitions on Chinese art, furniture traditions and the long-standing tradition of calligraphy. Each year this palace welcomes 15,340,000 visitors!

beijing

The Louvre – Paris

It’s true the Louvre is most famous for being a museum but this iconic house of art got its start at a palace, where it was home to generations of French kinds and emperors as early as the beginning of the 12th century.

The building has been extended and renovated countless times but you can still see Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie’s luxurious state apartments in the museum’s decorative arts wing. An impressive 9.3m people visit the Louvre every year.

louvre

Grand Palace – Bangkok

Bangkok’s Grand Palace is still used today as a royal office and is also used for state visits and royal ceremonies like the Royal Birthday Anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand’s current king.

It was the official residence of Thailand’s royal family from 1782 until 1925 and features some impressive gardens. The highlight however is the palace’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha, one of the most sacred sites in the country.

bangkok

Palace of Versailles – France

When the Palace of Versailles was built by Louis XIV in the 1600s, it was the most enviable estate in all of Europe. The gardens, the grand ballrooms… the place is dripping in opulence so it’s no wonder everyone wanted an invitation to this place. Versailles welcomes around 7.5 million visitors a year, and makes a perfect day trip when you book flights to Paris.

versailles

Topkapi Palace – Istanbul

Turkey’s incredible royal palace overlooks the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. It was the royal residence for 400 years, until the Ottoman Empire collapsed in the 1920s. The sultan lived here with his mother, wives, children and concubine in the harem.

While you’re visiting, look for the Privy Chamber of Murat III with its indoor pool and incredible Iznik tiles that date from the 16th century. Visiting Istanbul for the first time? Check out our Top 7 tips for visiting Istanbul.

topkapi

What other royal palaces and castles are also among the most popular in the world? Here’s the rest of the list:

  • The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia with 3,120,170 visitors a year
  • Tower of London in London with 2,894,698 visitors a year
  • Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna with 2,870,000 visitors a year
  • Alhambra and Generalife in Granada, Spain with 2,315,017 visitors a year
  • Shuri Castle in Okinawa, Japan with 1,753,000 visitors a year
Imgs: david_bertho, cokedragon, photogra fer, frenchster / Flickr cc.

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