There so many massive palaces all over Europe you wanted to visit, and also wondered what is the biggest one?
If we were to go based on size, the largest palace in the world based on volume and floor space would be the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest. On the other hand, if we go by pure area, the title belongs to the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The “largest palace in the world” is quite a controversial subject, there are too many criteria to take into consideration when giving the title ‘‘the biggest”.
The Palace of the Parliament [Romania]
The Palace of the Parliament was built in 1986, by Nicolae Ceaușescu, the communist leader at that time. The piece of Romanian architecture also holds the titles of the most expensive administrative building and the heaviest building in the world.
It spans over 330.000 square meters (3,552,120 square feet) of floor space. Its volume is even more impressive, spanning over 2.550.000 cubic meters. As remarkable as this may seem, this palace does not hold the Guinness World Record.
It all comes down to the definition of the word “palace”. If you ask the commission a palace is a palace only if it was used as a bishop residence, sovereign residence, or royal residence.
While the Palace of the Parliament was meant to be used as the residence of Nicolae Ceausescu, the Supreme Leader of Romania, the last Romanian monarch surrendered in 1947.
The definition of “palace” becomes even more blurry once you consider how many palaces have been converted into something else and then expanded after they have ceased being the residence of a noble, bishop, or sovereign.
One example of such an architectural phenomenon is the Louvre Palace. While it was a residence, its size was considerably smaller. In 1682, the Louvre Palace ceased being a residence, as Louis the 14th moved his court to the Palace of Versailles.
After that, the palace was repurposed. Now it was given the honour of displaying the collections gathered by the royal family, as well as hosting administrative events.
Being an important part of French history, it was renovated many times. It was expanded and given many additions over time. At this point, the palace is almost hard to compare the previous state of the palace with what it is now.
The palace reached its peak measurements in 1998, as the Louvre Museum. Currently, the palace spans over 2.260.421 square feet (approximately 210.000 square meters).
Winter Palace [Russia]
Another example of these “converted palaces” is Russia’s Winter Palace. The territories of this palace were not expanded even once since the end of the Revolution.
Even though the State Hermitage Museum has an increased size due to the additional buildings it occupies, the Winter Palace does not. The palace itself spans over no more than 60.000 square meters.
These buildings were once annexes that were part of the palace. They were used by the Imperial Court and thus are also considered to be pieces of the Winter Palace.
The same can be said for the New Hermitage. It was used as a museum by the Imperial family. It has held its vast collections ever since the day it was built.
It is because of this that all of the Hermitages, as well as the Hermitage Theater, are considered to be both wings of the Winter Palace, as well as independent buildings.
Royal Palace of Madrid [Spain]
Several palaces span a vast amount of space, despite being unused for a long time. The largest functioning palace in the world is often considered to be the Royal Palace of Madrid.
There have been many disputes over the title, like the Royal Palace of Madrid, despite having a function in the state, hasn’t been used by the royal family for a long time.
The royal family of Spain, instead, occupies the Palace of Zarzuela. The Royal Palace of Madrid spans an impressive 135.000 square meters (approximately 1.450.000 square feet). A lot of its space is open to visitors unless, of course, during state functions.
Royal Palace of Stockholm [Sweden]
Another peculiar location of a similar type is the Royal Palace of Stockholm, which claims to be the largest palace in the world which holds its original function to this day. Though, strangely enough, the royal family resides in Drottningholm Palace.
Forbidden City [Bejing, China]
If you ask the Guinness World Records, the largest palace in the world is the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The definition that the association follows considers a palace to be a residence used by a chief of state, sovereign, bishop, or archbishop.
It was constructed somewhere between 1406 and 1420. These 500 years of usage spanned from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. It holds another record, boasting the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Thanks to all the assets mentioned above Forbidden City is also evaluated as the most expensive palace in the world.
Istana Nurul Iman [Brunei]
Another palace that needs to be mentioned when discussing the largest palace in the world is the Istana Nurul Iman. It holds the record for the world’s largest residential palace.
Its name meaning ”The Light of Faith Palace” perfectly fits it in every way. It spans an incredible 200.000 square meters (approximately 2.150.000 square feet).
It also serves as the main seat of the Brunei government. It is often used for royal events and during state occasions. Even the geography of the palace is breathtaking.
It sits between the hills near the Brunei River. The surrounding area is blindingly green and lush with life.
It utilizes many vaulted roofs and golden domes to create a feeling of tasteful prestige. On top of that, the interior is nothing to scoff at. Initially designed by Khuan Chew, it exudes class.
The building encompasses approximately 1700 rooms, including 250 bathrooms. The banquet hall is large enough to host 5000 people. A mosque is also built into the palace, and it is yet another architectural masterpiece, being able to accommodate up to 1500 people.
The building complex cost around 1.4 billion US dollars to build and, hosting 7000 of the Sultan’s cars; it is mind-bending to think about what kind of money we are talking about here.
Unfortunately, the palace is closed to visitors unless during the ten days of Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
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