A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence, or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. Many historic palaces are now put to other uses such as parliaments, museums, hotels, or office buildings. The act of determining the world’s largest palaces is difficult as many countries use different standards to claim their palaces are the largest. For purposes of this article, only the combined area of all floors in the palace (a measurement commonly known as floorspace) is considered.
From the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, here are the top 20 largest palaces in the world.
- 1. Palace of the Parliament
- 2. Hofburg Palace
- 3. Louvre Palace
- 4. Ak Saray
- 5. Istana Nurul Iman
- 6. Apostolic Palace
- 7. Forbidden City
- 8. Malbork Castle
- 9. Royal Palace of Madrid
- 10. Quirinal Palace
- 11. Abdeen Palace
- 12. Falaknuma Palace
- 13. Palace of Venaria
- 14. Buckingham Palace
- 15. Prague Castle
- 16. Topkapi Palace
- 17. Palace of Versailles
- 18. Royal Palace of Stockholm
- 19. Palace of Caserta
- 20. Winter Palace
1. Palace of the Parliament
330,000 square metres (3,552,090 sq ft)
The Palace of the Parliament is the world’s largest administrative building. It measures 270 m by 240 m, 86 m high, and 92 m under ground. It has 1,100 rooms and is 12 stories tall, with additional 8 underground levels. It is also the most expensive administrative building and heaviest building in the world. The palace was intended to be used by Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s supreme ruler and dictator. Colossal parliament building known for its ornate interior, it is now housing the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, three museums and an international conference center. The National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Totalitarianism and Socialist Realism and the Museum of the Palace are hosted inside the palace.
2. Hofburg Palace
240,000 square metres (2,583,339 sq ft)
Former imperial palace in the centre of Vienna. Part of the palace forms the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. Built in the 13th century and expanded in the centuries since, the palace has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, including monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the principal imperial winter residence. The palace has 2600 rooms.
3. Louvre Palace
210,000 square metres (2,260,421 sq ft)
Originally a fortress built in the medieval period, the Louvre Palace became a royal palace in the 14th century under Charles V and was used from time to time by the kings of France as their main Paris residence. These days, most of the building is used as a museum.
4. Ak Saray
200,020 square metres (2,152,997 sq ft)
Located in Ankara, Ak Saray is the presidential palace of Turkey. It has at least 1,150 rooms, additional guesthouses, botanical garden, situation room with satellite and military communications systems, bunkers able to withstand biological, nuclear and chemical weapons attack, park and congress center.
5. Istana Nurul Iman
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
200,000 square metres (2,152,782 sq ft)
Completed in 1984 at the cost of $1.5 billion, Istana Nurul Iman is the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei and the seat of the Brunei government. Upon its completion, it was the largest residential palace in the world and the largest single-family residence ever built.
6. Apostolic Palace
Vatican City, Vatican City
162,000 square metres (1,743,753 sq ft)
Located in the Vatican City, the Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the Pope. The building contains the Papal Apartments, various offices of the Catholic Church and the Holy See, private and public chapels, Vatican Museums, and the Vatican Library.
7. Forbidden City
150,000 square metres (1,614,587 sq ft)
The Forbidden City was a Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty (1420 to 1912). Located in the centre of Beijing, it served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government. It consists of 980 buildings. With an enclosed area of 720,000 square meters (178 acres), it is the world’s largest palace complex.
8. Malbork Castle
143,000 square metres (1,539,239 sq ft)
Located in Poland, Malbork Castle is the largest castle in the world. The castle was founded in 1274 by the Teutonic Knights who used it as their headquarters to help defeat Polish enemies and rule their own northern Baltic territories. The castle was expanded several times to host the growing number of Knights until their retreat to Königsburg in 1466.
9. Royal Palace of Madrid
135,000 square metres (1,453,128 sq ft)
Completed in 1755, the Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family but is only used for state ceremonies. With an incredible 3,418 rooms, it is currently the largest functioning palace in Europe.
10. Quirinal Palace
110,500 square metres (1,189,412 sq ft)
Located on the Quirinal Hill, the highest of the seven hills of Rome, the Quirinal Palace is an ancient Pope’s palace and current presidential palace of the Italian President. It has housed 30 Popes, 4 Kings of Italy and 12 presidents of the Italian Republic. It’s 20-times larger than the White House in Washington DC.
11. Abdeen Palace
108,000 square metres (1,162,502 sq ft)
The construction of the palace began in 1863 and the was officially opened in 1874. In 1921 Sultan Fuad I added the gardens. The total size of the palace complex is 192,000 square metres.
12. Falaknuma Palace
93,971 square metres (1,011,495 sq ft)
Translated as “Like the Sky” or “Mirror of the Sky”, the Falaknuma Palace is a large palace in Hyderabad, the capital city of the Indian state of Telangana. Built in the year 1889, it was owned by the Nizams, the rulers of the princely state of Hyderabad, until 1950.
13. Palace of Venaria
Venaria Reale, Italy
80,000 square metres (861,113 sq ft)
The Palace was designed and built from 1675 by Amedeo di Castellamonte, it is one of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy. It was enlarged to become a luxurious residence for the House of Savoy. The palace complex became a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, and was filled with decoration and artwork.
14. Buckingham Palace
London, United Kingdom
77,000 square metres (828,821 sq ft)
A royal residence since George III bought Buckingham House in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte and has been the official London residence of the UK’s sovereign since Queen Victoria took up residence in July 1837. The palace contains 775 rooms and has a garden 40 acres in size.
15. Prague Castle
Prague, Czech Republic
70,000 square metres (753,474 sq ft)
Dating back to the 9th century and at about 570 meters in length and an average of about 130 meters wide, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. It has been the seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, presidents of Czechoslovakia and currently presidents of the Czech Republic.
16. Topkapi Palace
70,000 square metres (753,474 sq ft)
Built in the 15th century, the Topkapi Palace was one of the major residences of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years. At its peak, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people. Today, it serves as a museum and a major tourist attraction in Turkey.
17. Palace of Versailles
63,154 square metres (679,784 sq ft)
Located 20 km (12 mi) southwest of the centre of the French capital, the Palace of Versailles was the seat of political power in the Kingdom of France from 1682 to 1789 (until the royal family was forced to return to the capital after the beginning of the French Revolution). Famous as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy, the world’s largest royal domain with 87,728,720 square feet (8,150,265 m2) or 2,014 acres of palace grounds.
18. Royal Palace of Stockholm
61,210 square metres (658,859 sq ft)
Situated on the Stadsholmen Island in the center of Stockholm, the Stockholm Palace is the official residence and major royal palace of the Swedish monarch. The palace features 1,430 rooms. The offices of the monarch, the other members of the Swedish Royal Family, and the offices of the Royal Court of Sweden are located here. The palace is used for representative purposes by the monarch whilst performing duties as the head of state.
19. Palace of Caserta
61,000 square metres (656,599 sq ft)
Located in Caserta, southern Italy, the Palace of Caserta was constructed for the Bourbon kings of Naples in the second half of the 18th century. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the Palace of Caserta is the largest royal palace in the world by volume (2 million cubic meters) and the 19th largest by floor area.
20. Winter Palace
Saint Petersburg, Russia
60,000 square metres (645,835 sq ft)
Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square in the center of Saint Petersburg, the Winter Palace was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Constructed on a monumental scale to reflect the power of Imperial Russia, today, the palace and its precincts form the Hermitage Museum.