An official residence is the residence where the head of state, head of government, or other senior figures nap, watch TV or simply ignore their people. But, some residences are more popular than others, and an important part of a country’s history: a palace, a fortress, and so on. Some of those buildings are still in use today, which is why access can be limited but they are worth visiting even if you can only see the exterior. Here’s a list of the most famous official residences in the world.
10. Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam
The Koninklijk Paleis – Royal Palace – is one of 4 palaces in the Netherlands where Queen Beatrix can enjoy her siesta. Located on the west side of Dam Square, in the center of Amsterdam, the palace acted as a city hall during the Dutch Golden Age. It became the royal palace of king Louis Napoleon and later of the Dutch Royal House.
9. Drottningholm Palace
Originally built in the late 16th century, the Drottningholm Palace is the private and official residence of the Swedish royal family. Please observe the beautiful gardens and park areas surrounding the palace, which together with the buildings are one of the main attractions for tourists that come here every year. The palace also includes an opera house, the Drottningholm Palace Theatre.
8. Hofburg Imperial Palace
The Hofburg Imperial Palace is located in Vienna and serves as the official residence for the President of Austria. This was the Habsburg’s principal winter residence, while Schönbrunn Palace was their preferred summer residence. From 1438 to 1583 and from 1612 to 1806, the palace represented the place of rule for the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as for the Emperor of Austria until 1918.
7. Tokyo Imperial Palace
Featuring a large park-like area, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. During the 1980s, the palace grounds were valued slightly more than the value of all the real estate in the state of California. The inner palace gardens and buildings are closed to the general public, except on January 2 and December 23, when the imperial family makes a public appearance.
6. Palacio Real
The Palacio Real in Madrid is the official residence of the King of Spain. During the 10th century the Moors built a defensive fort on the site, while the Royal Palace was built between 1738 to 1755 and King Carlos III took up residence in the palace in 1764.
5. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the main residence of Queen Elizabeth II, although it is owned by the British state and is not the monarch’s personal property. The Forecourt of Buckingham Palace is used for Changing of the Guard, that impressive and major tourist attraction. Between May and July, the guard changes each morning at 11:30am. The rest of the year, the guard changes on alternate days, weather permitting. It’s the UK, after all.
4. Alcázar of Seville
Originally a Moorish fort, the Alcázar of Seville is a beautiful example of predominantly Mudéjar architecture in Spain. At the beginning of the 10th Century, it was built and was expanded during the following century by the ruling Almohades dynasty. Successive kings added their own touch to the Alcázar. Please note that the upper levels of the Alcázar are still used today by the royal family.
3. Grand Palace
The construction of the Grand Palace started in 1782 when the capital of Siam was moved from Thonburi to Bangkok. The palace served as residence for the Kings of Thailand, until the mysterious death of King Ananda Mahidol, in 1946. His brother King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who succeeded him, moved permanently to the Chitralada Palace. However, the Grand Palace is often used for royal ceremonies.
2. White House | Official Residence
The White House in Washington D.C. needs no introduction, but don’t get mad it’s not number one on our list. This is the official residence and office of the President of the United States. It was built between 1792 and 1800 and first used by President John Adams. After the 9/11 attacks, it has become difficult to visit the White House and tours are now available only for groups after a request is sent with up to six months in advance through your member of Congress or your country’s US Ambassador.
1. Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin is an immense fortified complex, which includes four palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The Kremlin serves as the official residence for the President of Russia. Although its design and architecture are superb, two thirds of the Kremlin territory is closed to visitors. However, what tourists are allowed to visit will take several days of sightseeing and pictures.