26 grand residences of royal and political heads of state around the World

Sandringham House, in Norfolk, England

By Julius Choudhury

From the White House to the Tokyo Imperial Palace, take a look at some stunning official residences of political and royal heads of state.

Buckingham Palace, England

Arguably one of the most recognized palaces in the world, Buckingham Palace is the London residence and principal workplace of the British monarch. The palace became the official royal residence following Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne in 1837. Sections of the palace are open to the public from July to October, and the changing of the guard ceremony in the forecourt is a major tourist attraction.

White House, US

Located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., it is home to the U.S. president and was built in the late 18th century. Parts of the building were set on fire during the War of 1812 between American and British forces. It was reconstructed soon after and has since assumed a formidable place in the annals of global power.

Tokyo Imperial Palace, Japan

The residence of the Emperor of Japan, the palace was built in 1888 on the former site of the Edo castle. It was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt later. A part of the complex is open to visitors all the year round, but the inner grounds are accessible only on two occasions – the royal family’s official New Year greetings and the emperor’s birthday.

Istana Nurul Iman, Brunei

Completed in 1984, the palace in Bandar Seri Begawan is the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei. The palace has over 1,700 rooms and its interiors were designed by Khuan Chew, who is also known for his work on Burj al Arab in Dubai, UAE. Limited access is provided to tourists during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri, or Eid al-Fitr.

Huis ten Bosch palace, Netherlands

The palace located in The Hague is one of three available to the Dutch royal family as officiated by the parliament. Intended to be used as a summer residence, it was commissioned in the 17th century by Prince Frederick Henry. World War II did considerable damage to the property, but it was fully renovated by 1977. Four years later, Princess Beatrix, Prince Claus and their children moved into the palace. Due to its status, it is not accessible to the public.

Istana Negara, Malaysia

Istana Negara is the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or king of Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur building which currently serves as the residence was built in 2011 and replaced the old building. The palace is spread in an area of 97.65 hectares (241.3 acres) and is divided into three main sections.

Hofburg, Austria

The residence of the sovereigns who ruled Austria for around 600 years till 1918, Hofburg is a majestic palace located in Vienna. It now serves as the official residence and workplace of the Austrian president and also houses offices of the ministers of the Chancellor. Built in stages over centuries, the grand palace of 18 wings and 2,600 rooms is spread in an area of 24 hectares (59 acres). Visitors can marvel at the impressive collection in its museums and architectural details which reflect the changing tastes of successive rulers.

Presidential Palace, Poland

Built in the 1640s, the palace was designed by a court architect of King Władysław IV and was, for some time, the seat of the Viceroy of the Polish Kingdom during Russian occupation. The main structure underwent extensive reconstruction after being almost completely destroyed in a fire in 1852. The Warsaw palace was declared the official residence of the Polish president in 1994.

Royal Palace, Cambodia

Except for the period during and after the rule of the Khmer Rouge, the Royal Palace has been home to the Cambodian royal family since it was built in 1866. The palace, located in the capital city of Phnom Penh, is a popular tourist attraction today. Among the series of modifications done over the years were the addition of the spectacular Silver Pagoda – an extravagant Buddhist temple which has floors made of silver and a gold Buddha statue adorned with thousands of diamonds.

Grand Kremlin Palace, Russia

A lavishly decorated building, the palace is the official residence of the Russian president. It was built between 1837 and 1849 under the supervision of architect Konstantin Thon, the Imperial Russia-era architect who built the Kremlin Armory and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Interestingly, although the building appears to be a three-story structure, it has only two. Certain halls and buildings of the complex can be visited through designated tours.

Akorda Presidential Palace, Kazakhstan

The Akorda may not have the centuries of history that royal palaces around the world have, but it is a stunning piece of architecture, nonetheless. Located in the capital city of Astana, it is also the official workplace of the president of Kazakhstan. The building mirrors a blend of European and Asian cultures. It is not open to general public.

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle is the residence of the Czech president and is home to the Bohemian Crown Jewels. It is believed to have been built around 880 A.D. and consists of a vast collection of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings contained within a seven hectare fortified complex, making it one of the largest in the world. The palace is open to the public.

Quirinal Palace, Italy

Located on the highest of Rome’s seven hills, the palace was home to several popes and kings before it became the official residence of the Italian president. The entire building therefore contains artistic elements added by its illustrious residents. Built in 1582, it is open to tourists on all days except Mondays and Thursdays.

Stockholm Royal Palace, Sweden

Believed to be one of the largest palaces in Europe, the royal palace is the official residence of the King of Sweden. Construction took place during the 18th century and on the same spot an earlier castle was burned in 1697. Tourists can visit some of its 600 rooms, five museums, the royal armory, royal stables, and see the daily changing of the guard.

Rashtrapati Bhavan, India

Formerly called Viceroy’s House, the official residence of the president of India is located in the country’s capital – New Delhi. The complex, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, consists of two sections: a 340-room main building that serves as the president’s house and includes guest rooms, offices and reception halls, and a collection of gardens (the Mughal Gardens), fountains, stables, courtyards and other offices. The complex is open to visitors on select days of the week, who can also witness the impressive changing of guards ceremony.

Élysée Palace, France

The residence of the president of the French Republic since 1848, the Paris building has undergone major changes in its structure since the early 18th century. It is open to the public once a year – during European Heritage Days every September.

Government Palace, Peru

Built in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro to mark the founding of Lima, the Presidential Palace has been the official home of the Peruvian government since the Viceroyalty of Peru was first established. The changing of guard ceremony here at midday every weekday and weekend is a sight to behold. The palace is open to the public but inquire before visiting.

Bellevue Palace, Germany

Situated on the banks of Spree River in Berlin, the 18th-century building, which was reconstructed in 1959, has been the official residence of the president of Germany since 1994. Before the reunification, it served as a secondary residence of the West German president. The palace has an open day once a year when the general public can visit the complex.

Royal Palace, Norway

Located in Oslo, the official residence of the Norwegian monarch was designed by an architect of Danish origin – Hans Linstow. The neo-Classical style palace was completed in 1849 and had King Oscar I as its first occupant. The palace is open to public during summer.

Presidential Palace, Lithuania

The official residence and workplace of the president, parts of the palace date back to the 14th century reign of Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Since then, it has seen several reconstructions and renovations and has been used as the residence of emperors, kings, noblemen and bishops. The palace is open to the public but pre-registration is required.

The Istana, Singapore

Located on Orchard Road, the 150-year-old building, which also serves as the workplace of the president, was the house of British governors during the country’s colonial period. The design of the main building is in neo-Palladian style which was common during the 18th century Colonial era. The entire complex covers an area of over 40 hectares (99 acres). It is open to visitors on five special occasions – Chinese New Year, Labor Day, Hari Raya Puasa, National Day and Deepavali.

Blue House, South Korea

The name of the presidential residence comes from the color of the tiles on the roof of the main office building. A specimen of traditional Korean architecture, the Blue House is situated at the foot of the Bugaksan Mountain in the capital city of Seoul. The complex is open to tourists and can be toured with professionals.

Palácio da Alvorada, Brazil

Designed by renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the president’s home located in Brasília next to the Paranoá Lake was inaugurated in 1958. A National Historic Heritage Site, its name means “Palace of the Dawn.” The building is made of marble and incorporates in its design elements of both glass and water.

Presidential Complex, Turkey

Inaugurated in 2014, the Presidential Complex was built in Ankara at a cost of more than $600 million. Spread in an area of more than 30 hectares (74 acres), the palace itself is 30 times the size of the White House. Besides serving as the residence of the Turkish president, it also houses his office and is the venue of official meetings with foreign dignitaries.

Aiwan-e-Sadr, Pakistan

Flanked by the Prime Minister’s residence and the building of the country’s Parliament in Islamabad, the president’s residence is built in a step pyramidical style. A section of the complex was opened to visitors for the first time in December 2018.


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Bloom Magazine: 26 grand residences of royal and political heads of state around the World
26 grand residences of royal and political heads of state around the World
Bloom Magazine
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