The Most Beautiful Palaces in the World

The Most Beautiful Palaces in the World

Purveyors of power and prestige, home to kings and queens, and architectural masterpieces in their own right, palaces offer a glimpse into the opulent and lavish lifestyles of royals past. With stunning examples around the world, it is well worth adding visits to a palace or two to your next holiday itinerary. From the fortress complex of Alhambra to the sprawling maze of courts that makes up The Grand Palace in Bangkok, we’ve compiled a list of the most beautiful palaces in the world to aid you on your royal voyage. Step inside intricate frescoed interiors and wander through their magnificent grounds for a taste of regal life.

  1. Palace of Versailles, France
  2. Alhambra, Spain
  3. Palacio Real, Spain
  4. Pena Palace, Portugal
  5. Royal Palace of Rabat, Morocco
  6. Mysore Palace, India
  7. The Grand Palace, Thailand
  8. Buckingham Palace, London
  9. Topkapi Palace, Turkey
  10. Palazzo Pitti, Italy


Palace of Versailles, France

Once the primary residence of the French kings (from Louis XIV to Louis XVI), the Palace of Versailles is the epitome of royal opulence and architectural grandeur. Originating from humble beginnings, the palace started out as a hunting lodge, constructed by Louis XIII in 1624. Louis XIV extended the site and moved his entire court from the French capital to Versailles in 1682. The site was infamously stormed by peasants during the French Revolution, yet thanks to extensive restorations, it still offers a window into the extravagant lives of its former inhabitants.


Alhambra, Spain

Claiming the title of Spain’s most visited attraction, the Alhambra is part palace, part fortress and part manicured gardens, set among the rolling hills of Granada on Spain’s Costa del Sol. It’s regarded as an iconic example of Islamic architecture and dates back to the 13th century, although much of its history remains shrouded in mystery and some historians believe it may be built upon existing ancient Roman ruins. The structures of the expansive complex are adorned with delicate geometric mosaics, which demonstrate the sophistication of Moorish design and place it firmly on our list of the most beautiful palaces in the world.



Palacio Real, Spain

Another Hispanic palace, the Palacio Real stands proud in the centre of Madrid. A neat jewel-box of a building, it’s now only used for royal ceremonies, although it did serve as the designated residence of the royal family until 1975. Felipe V was aiming to outdo every other European palace when he ordered its construction in the 1700s, however he passed away before it was finished, and the baroque behemoth is only a quarter of its planned size (yet still boasts an astonishing 2,800 rooms). A tour of the palace takes you through 50 of them, each adorned with various silk and velvet wall hangings and elaborate stucco ceilings.

Palacio Real


Pena Palace, Portugal

Emerging out of a forest-clad hillside in the Sintra Mountains, the Romanticist-style Pena Palace wouldn’t look out of place within the pages of a fairy-tale. Originally a medieval chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena, the palace features bright, Crayola-coloured red and yellow buildings, trimmed with refined white battlements and layered with detailed blue mosaics. The eclectic mix of architectural styles (Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, New-Romanesque and Indo-Gothic) undoubtedly make it one of the most creative palaces on our list, and Pena is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Pena Palace


Royal Palace of Rabat, Morocco

One of four royal palaces in Morocco, Dar al-Makhzen (Royal Palace of Rabat) is the primary dwelling of the king (the others are located in Casablanca, Fez and Marrakesh). As an active residence, you’ll unfortunately have to admire the eye-catching architecture from outside its seven striking front gates. The palace still manages to stun from the exterior, however, with its dazzling brass doorways and intricate ochre, azure and emerald tilework. Its official name is equally as charming; El Mechouar Essaid Palace, which means 'The Venue of Happiness Palace'.


Mysore Palace, India

Nicknamed the ‘City of Palaces’, any of Mysore’s seven could have been included on our list of the most beautiful palaces in India. The Mysore Palace is undoubtedly the Indian city’s most famous, dating back to 1912 and previously the abode of the Wadiyar dynasty. Also referred to as Amba Vilas Palace, Mysore is instantly identifiable, with its grand archways flanked by rectangular pale-pink buildings and crowned with maroon-hued orbs. The best time to visit the exquisite creation is during the Dasara festival, held from September to October, when the palace is illuminated by 10,000 lights.

Mysore Palace


The Grand Palace, Thailand

Thailand’s Grand Palace, located in the heart of Bangkok, is more accurately described as a sprawling complex of courts, temples and throne halls. Construction began in 1782 and it became the royal family’s official home until 1925. Additional edifices were gradually added over time, numbering as many as 100, most of which are designed in Ratanakosin (old-Bangkok) style. It’s no surprise that the compound constitutes the city’s most popular tourist attraction and the architecturally awe-inspiring Temple of the Emerald Buddha is arguably the most renowned of the myriad structures.

Grand Palace Thailand


Buckingham Palace, London

One of the most well-known names on our list of the most beautiful palaces in the world, Buckingham Palace remains the residence of the British royal family. Dating back to 1703, the 775-room palace replaced St James’ as the monarch’s official home in 1837. Today, the King’s presence is denoted by the red, blue and yellow Royal Standard flag, while the Union Flag is flown to mark her absence. From mid-July to September, the 19 heavily gilded State Rooms open their doors to the public and picnicking in the immaculately kept Palace Garden is also possible.


Topkapi Palace, Turkey

Following his conquest of Constantinople in 1459, Sultan Mehmed II commissioned the construction of Topkapi Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus and it became the home of future sultans until the 18th century. The impressive edifice was once home to 5,000 residents and there’s no doubt that the palace possesses a storied and salacious history. Entry to the Court of the Janissaries is free to the public and tickets can be purchased to access the harem, comprising 400 rooms, terraces and halls, each increasingly resplendent with ornate ornamentation and gold Arabic carvings.

Topkapi Palace


Palazzo Pitti, Italy

Situated on the southern side of Florence’s River Arno, Palazzo Pitti was commissioned by (and named after) Florentine banker Luca Pitti in 1458. It was subsequently bought by the Medici family and came to represent their power over the region of Tuscany, before housing the Courts of both the Habsburg-Lorraine and Savoy dynasties (until 1919, when it was donated to the state). Today, the palace has been transformed into four museums: the Palatine Gallery, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, the Gallery of Modern Art and the Museum of Costume and Fashion. Visit at sunset to see the pietraforte façade bathed in a soft-pink glow.

Written by Luisa Watts