A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or
the home of a head of state or Church dignitary, such as a bishop,
archbishop cardinal or Pope.
In parts of Europe, the term is also applied large urban buildings
built as the private mansions of the aristocracy. Many historic
palaces are now put to other uses such as parliaments, museums,
hotels or office buildings.
The word palace comes from Old French palais (imperial residence),
from Latin Palātium, the name of one of the seven hills of
Rome. The original palaces on the Palatine Hill were the seat of
the imperial power, while the capitol on the Capitoline Hill was
the seat of the senate and the religious nucleus of Rome. Long after
the city grew to the seven hills the Palatine remained a desirable
In France there has been a clear distinction between a château
and a palais. The palace has always been urban, like the Palais
de la Cité in Paris, which was the royal palace of France
and is now the supreme court of justice of France, or the palace
of the Popes at Avignon.
Château, by contrast, have always been in rural settings,
supported by their demesnes, even when they were no longer actually
fortified. Speakers of English think of the " Palace of Versailles"
because it was the residence of the king of France, and the king
was the source of power, though the building has always remained
the Château de Versailles for the French, and the seat of
government under the Ancien Régime remained the Palais du
Louvre. The Louvre had begun as a fortified Château du Louvre
on the edge of Paris, but as the seat of government and shorn of
its fortified architecture and then completely surrounded by the
city, it developed into the Palais du Louvre.
The townhouses of the aristocracy were also palais, although only
if fairly grand - the entry level being set rather higher than in
Italy. The Hôtel particulier was the term for less grandiose
residences. Bishops always had a palais in the town, but their country
homes were châteaux.
The usage is essentially the same in Spain and Portugal, as well
as the former Austrian Empire. In Germany, the wider term was a
relatively recent importation, and was used rather more restrictively.
In Italy, any urban building built as a grand residence is a palazzo;
these are often no larger than a Victorian townhouse. It was not
necessary to be a nobleman to have your house considered a palazzo;
the hundreds of palazzi in Venice belonged to the patrician class
of the city. . Each family's palazzo was a hive that contained all
the family members, though it might not always show a grand architectural
public front. In the 20th century palazzo in Italian came to apply
by extension to any large fine apartment building, as so many old
palazzi were converted to this use.
In the United Kingdom, there have been no "palaces" other
than those used as official residences by royalty and bishops, regardless
of whether located in town or country. Thus the Palace of Beaulieu
gained its name when Thomas Boleyn sold it to Henry VIII in 1517;
previously it had been known as Walkfares. Like several other palaces,
the name stuck even once the royal connection ended. Blenheim Palace
was built in the grounds of the disused royal Palace of Woodstock,
and the name was also part of the extraordinary honour when the
house was given by a grateful nation to a great general.
India has had, and still has, a large amount of palaces. While
most monuments of the ancient period have been destroyed or lie
in ruins, some medieval buildings have been maintained well or restored
to good condition. Several medieval forts and palaces still stand
proud all over India. While some royal palaces have been maintained
as museums or hotels over the last decades, some palaces are still
home for the members of the erstwhile royal families. These forts
and palaces are the largest illustrations and legacy of the princely
states of India.
Rajasthan has a large number of forts and palaces that are major
tourist destinations in North India. The Rajputs were known as great
soldiers. The most famous forts and palaces in Rajasthan are located
in Chittor, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur , Jaisalmir, Amber and Nahargarh.
|Buckingham Palace in London, England- a palace by virtue of
being a royal residence.
|Lambeth Palace, Lambeth, London, England - a palace by virtue
of being an archbishop's residence
|The Doge's Palace in Venice, Italy
|The Palace of the Maharaja of Mysore , Mysore, India