Photo Credit: Photo Credit: E Mens
These 5 Noble Estates And Residences Around The World Are Popular Tourist Sites
There’s no question about it, monarchs, leaders, and the super-privileged live in a completely different bubble than the rest of us. It’s only natural that people would be curious about their lifestyle and where they reside.
Whether you’re a historian, or just have a casual interest in history, visiting castles, manors, and other grand residences is a fun and educational experience. There’s an especially high concentration of them in Europe. Buckingham Palace in England, Schönbrunn Palace in Austria, and Pena Palace in Portugal are all open to tourists.
Here are five noble residences you can visit this summer and beyond.
Versailles – France
Centuries before the Eiffel Tower was on the radar, the Palace of Versailles was the most iconic structure in France.
Louis XIV spared no expense in the construction. He wanted to expand the hunting lodge that belonged to his father, and the result was the envy of Europe at the time.
Nicknamed the Sun King, the King believed everything revolved around him, which is evident in the layout of the garden. The BBC explains, “The gardens were his stage. There are optical illusions, hidden groves, and subtle messages alluding to the sun throughout the park.” This is the perfect setting for a walk on a sunny day.
Be sure to visit the Hall of Mirrors—the most iconic feature. Chateau de Versailles notes, “The whole length of the Hall of Mirrors pays tribute to the political, economic, and artistic success of France.”
Other features include the Estate of Trianon, countless fountains, and so much more. There are several ticket options available, offering different levels of access.
Alhambra – Spain
This ancient fortress in Granada dominates the surrounding landscape. It gets its name from the Arabic word for red fort or castle.
The Alhambra is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and great care has been taken to preserve it. Starting with Mohammed I, Moorish rulers of the Nasrid dynasty are to thank for its construction. Each one expanded on what his predecessor started, resulting in what stands today.
In 1492, Islamic rule ended when Granada was conquered by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Over time, Spanish monarchs added their own features to the palace.
According to History, “Charles V ordered the destruction of part of the complex to build a Renaissance-style palace for himself, called the Charles V Palace. He built other structures as well, including the Emperor’s Chambers, the Queen’s Dressing Room, and a church to replace Alhambra’s mosque.”
In spite of Catholic efforts to suppress it, Moorish influence endures in Spain. There are three types of tours: the Day Tour, Garden Tour, and Night Tour.
The Tower of London – England
Since it was built on the Thames by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London has fascinated and terrified in turns.
Much of the Tower’s history is unsavory, to say the least. It has witnessed imprisonment, torture, and execution. On a more upbeat note, it houses the Crown Jewels—the most famous collection of its kind.
The chapel on the grounds, St. Peter ad Vincula, holds services regularly. It’s the final resting place of some of the most famous figures in English history. If you’re interested in the Tudors, you’ve likely heard of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard—two of King Henry VIII’s executed wives. Lady Jane Grey, “the queen of nine days,” is also interred at the chapel, among several others.
The Tower draws approximately three million tourists per year, and it’s best to buy tickets in advance.
Taj Mahal – India
Imagine loving your spouse so much that you commission a fabulous mausoleum in their memory.
That’s exactly what the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, did to honor his favorite wife. There isn’t a single picture that does it justice, and if you visit, you’ll see why it’s one of the wonders of the world.
Building the Taj Mahal was an all-hands-on-deck operation. It started in 1631 and finished around 1648. According to National Geographic, “20,000 stone carvers, masons, and artists from across India and as far as Turkey and Iraq, were employed to build it on the banks of Agra’s Jamuna River.”
The Taj Mahal is in Agra, a city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The best way to get there is by train, and from there you can get a cab.
Abdeen Palace – Egypt
Located in Cairo, Abdeen Palace is among the most opulent in the world. The foundations date to 1863, and construction took over a decade to complete. Much like Versailles, the extravagance is on full display everywhere.
According to Inside Egypt, “Adbeen is one of the most luxurious palaces, in terms of its ornaments, paintings, and large number of clocks scattered in the parlors and wings.”
In addition to being the residence of the Egyptian president, it also functions as a museum.