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News > April 2014 > A royal guide to Europe's palaces

A royal guide to Europe's palaces

The palaces that stand as impressive landmarks today act as a reminder of a world and cultures gone by, making these buildings a must-see for those visiting Europe’s capitals on popular river cruise holidays.

Budapest

Sat on the banks of the River Danube, the Royal Palace of Buda, or Buda Castle, is a historic landmark in Budapest that is as much a symbol of the city today as it was when it was constructed in the 14th-20th century. The palace and castle complex has been the residence of numerous Hungarian kings and monarchs in Budapest and, as a result, has been the location for a great deal of events of historical importance.

The castle was also made a Budapest UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, so it is one of the key landmarks to see for visitors to the city. The first royal monarchs to take up residence in the palace were King Matthias Corvinus and Beatrix of Naples following their marriage in 1476. Matthias Corvinus went on to order the construction of the Matthias Palace as a part of the Royal Palace of Buda, which unfortunately was not finished until some years after his death.

Bratislava

Bratislava of the Slovak Republic hosts its own palace; Mirbach Palace was constructed between 1768 and 1770. Standing on Franciscan Square, the structure was built by brewer Michal Spech and was named after its last inhabitant and owner Count Emil Mirbach.

While no members of royalty are known to have lived within the palace, it has been a site of some great members of Slovak history, including that of Count Mirbach as well as the Illésházy family, who lived in the building before it was reconstructed as the palace it is now, and Count Koloman Nyáry. Today, the palace houses the City Gallery of Bratislava, which is very popular with those passing through on river cruises along the Danube.

Bucharest

It is not strictly speaking the home of royalty, but its significance and historical importance places the Palace of the Parliament building in Budapest on our list of palaces to see in Europe. This civilian administrative building houses both chambers of the Romanian Parliament and holds a status as the largest of its kind in the world, standing as one of the few remaining man-made structures that can be identified from space.

Known by many as the Palace of the People, Ceausescu’s Palace was constructed during the Ceausescu regime in Romania and it measures a space of 270m by 245m and a height of 86m, with more yet to be completed. Michael Palin’s New Europe programme for the BBC took a tour of the palace and shows in great detail the extravagance and size of the Bucharest palace; click here for a preview.

Amsterdam

Built in the 17th century, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam is a magnificent structure that became the royal palace of King Louis Napoleon and stands as a great example of Dutch royalty. First built as the town hall of the city of Amsterdam, it has since become an emblem of royalty.

While it is open to the public today, the palace was the setting for Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima’s kiss on their wedding day in 2002, who have since become King and Queen of the Netherlands.

Vienna

The Hofburg Palace and Schönbrunn Palace are two examples of structures built for Austrian royalty. The palaces together make up the year-round official residency of the President of Austria, with the Hofburg Palace being occupied in the winter and Schönbrunn Palace being the president’s summer residency.

Parts of both palaces are open to the public, with parts of Hofburg being opened as a convention centre and the decadent Schönbrunn Palace seeing many visitors every year.

Image Credit: Dennis Jarvis (flickr.com)

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