Over the centuries, noble and great monarchs have built splendid and often exaggerated homes, to the image of their power… Worthy of the best fairy tales, these residences are now dreaming small and large by their delirious architecture, sumptuous ornaments and their history. To get your eyes right, Petit Smart offers you its selection of the world's finest castles and palaces. What is the people asking for?
N°10 - Bran Castle and the Soul of Dracula
At the entrance to the Bran-Rucăr pass, in the Carpathian mountains, is one of the most visited monuments in Romania. Between myths and legends, Bran Castle attracts many travellers every year to follow in the footsteps of the most famous vampire: Dracula. Count Vlad Ţepeş, from whom Bram Stocker is said to have drawn inspiration for his legendary book, is said to have lived in Bran Castle for a few years. Built on a rock, this 14th century residence is now the property of the Habsburgs as it was before their empire collapsed in 1918.
No. 9 - Windsor, welcome to the queen's house!
Windsor is the largest surviving castle in the world, one of three official residences of Queen Elizabeth II. Built in the 11th century, after William the Conqueror conquered England, Windsor is home to a royal palace and a splendid chapel where ten sovereigns are buried. The apartments are decorated with notable works of art: there are paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens or Canaletto. In another genre, don't miss Queen Mary's famous doll's house designed by the greatest craftsmen in the 1930s!
# 8 - Neuschwanstein, a real fairy tale
Perched at the top of a rocky spur, Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany is one of Europe's most visited. King Louis II of Bavaria had him built between 1869 and 1886, he wanted to make it a sacred and protective place entirely dedicated to the genius of the composer Wagner whom he admired so much. Its architecture is inspired by the neo-Gothic style of Pierrefonds Castle and the medieval Wartburg… A splendid result!
N° 7 - The Topkapi Palace and its oriental charm
Official residence of the Ottoman Sultan between 1465 and 1853, Topkapi Palace is one of the most emblematic places in the city of Istanbul. A true "city within the city", it covers 70 hectares and includes courtyards, gardens but also private apartments or pavilions. Its collections of Islamic calligraphy manuscripts and wall paintings reflect this palace: flamboyant. The Ottoman treasure and jewellery are also permanently on display.
# 6 - Bangkok Grand Palais, grandeur and spirituality
The Grand Palais Bangkok is certainly the most impressive and respected site in Thailand. Built from 1876 to 1882 under King Chulalongkorn's rule, it found the royal residence - a small part of which is open to the public, government offices and right next door, the famous temple of the very venerable Emerald Buddha: the Wat Phra Kaew. An unavoidable visit!
N°5 - The National Palace of Pena, pearl of Sintra
On one of the peaks of the Serra de Sintra stands the flamboyant palace of Pena. Straight out of a fairy tale, it was built in the middle of the 19th century according to the wishes of Ferdinand II. With its yellow and red colours and its eclectic architecture, neo-Moorish and neomanuelin, it bears witness to the fascination for oriental exoticism in the 19th century. The chapel and cloister decorated with azulejos are of striking beauty..
No. 4 - The Forbidden City, an Imperial Legacy
The only imperial palace still visible, the Forbidden City is one of the most beautiful legacies of ancient China. Built between 1406 and 1420, when the country's capital became Beijing, it covers more than 74 ha! Totally cut off from the outside world until 1924, when the last of the 24 emperors who lived there was driven out, the Forbidden City is today a gigantic museum, the quintessence of Chinese art and culture
N°3 - Peterhof Palace, Russian Versailles
Built at the request of Tsar Peter the Great who, after a trip to France, was captivated by the grandeur of Versailles, the Peterhof Palace is only a few kilometres from St Petersburg. Its ochre and white facade extends over more than 260 m, in the heart of a splendid wooded park. Its large waterfall, inspired by that of Marly Castle, designed by Louis XIV, flows into the Gulf of Finland. It is decorated with 200 sculptures and about sixty water jets. A splendid palace that takes us in the footsteps of the famous Duchess Anastasia...
N°2 - Versailles, the splendour of the Sun King
Often imitated but never equalled, Versailles is the largest castle in the world. How can you not be amazed by its 67,000 m2 and 700 rooms? Residence of the kings Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI, Versailles was only a simple hunting lodge under Louis XIII. If the Hall of Mirrors is the palace's flagship room, we cannot remain insensitive to Le Nôtre's remarkably landscaped gardens. More than a castle, Versailles is the testimony of an era. It is the third most visited site in France
N°1 - Schönbrunn, the castle of Sissi the Empress
Schönbrunn Palace, a treasure of Baroque architecture, is one of the most visited sites in Vienna. It owes its name to Emperor Matthias who, during a hunting trip, discovered a very beautiful spring there - schöner Brunnen in German. Built in the 16th century, Schönbrunn is historically linked to the Hasbourg dynasty. During the visit of the apartments, we find many memories of the one who was the wife of Franz Joseph I of Austria: Princess Sissi.