It’s a right royal year here in the UK. Not only have we seen the long-awaited wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but Princess Eugenie will marry Jack Brooksbank later this year. And to top it all off Queen Elizabeth II has further cause for celebration as yesterday marked the 65th anniversary of her coronation.
Such occasions have made the likes of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle even more of an attraction to tourists, though they’re just two of the many royal palaces worth a visit. Across the world, the finest interiors and best architecture have been employed to make royal residences the most spectacular buildings in the land.
If you’re in a regal mood, here are five palaces the Flexicover team think are well worth a visit.
Alcázar in Seville, Spain
Whether or not you’re a Game of Thrones fan, a day spent at Alcázar of Seville is nothing short of magical. It’s used as a filming location in the hit HBO show, providing the backdrop for the fictional Water Gardens of Dorne. Built by the first Caliph of Andalucía in the 10th century, the Mudejar-style attraction is full of history and has certainly earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spanish Kings later expanded the palace and the upper chambers are the official home for the Spanish royal family in Seville. It’s the oldest palace in Europe that’s still in use, but travellers can still pay a visit and let the history seep in.
Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal
Sitting atop the region of Sintra, a mountain town 18 miles from Lisbon, Pena Palace was voted as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Originally built as a monastery but abandoned in 1834, King Ferdinand took on the job of transforming it into the palatial paradise we see today. As well as the outstanding views, visitors will enjoy the many colours and styles of the palace, which includes neo-gothic, neo-Manueline, Islamic and neo-renaissance elements. This mish-mash of looks is so impressive that Walt Disney used it as a blueprint for his own fairytale castles.
Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey
Constructed in 1453, the Topkapi Palace is one of Istanbul’s most impressive sites and one of the world’s oldest surviving palaces. Built in the 15th century, it was the main residence for Ottoman sultans and because each sultan added a new room visitors can wander the maze-like structure as well as admire the gorgeous colours, stained glass windows and intricate murals. The museum is also worth a look as it features some fascinating relics from the Ottoman Empire, including the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, the fourth largest diamond in the world and hair from Prophet Mohammed’s beard.
Palais du Louvre in Paris, France
The Louvre is best known as the world’s most famous gallery, welcoming eight million visitors annually to see works by Michelangelo, Caravaggio and of course Leonardo da Vinci. But the grand building on the banks of the River Seine has served many purposes throughout its history, including acting as a palace for the kings of France. The change was instigated by King Charles V, who transformed it into his primary home during the 14th century, before it was destroyed and reconstructed by King Francis I in 1527. Next time you’re there to see its 7,500 works of art don’t forget to dig into its history as a palace too.
Prince's Palace in Monaco
Monaco is only three miles long and half a mile wide but there’s plenty to see in the country. We’d suggest earmarking some time to look around the beautiful staterooms in the Prince’s Palace. Built in 1191, it’s served the Grimaldi dynasty since the 13th century and it’s where you’ll find Prince Albert II and his family today. Aside from touring the palace, visitors can watch the daily changing of the guards or attend one of the famous open-air summer concerts in the courtyard. Keep an eye on their website to see what’s on.
Wherever you plan to head this year it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.