From the opulent baroque style of the Palace of Versailles to the simple Rococo style of Germany’s Sanssouci, from the popularity of Buckingham Palace to the scary tales ascribed to Romania’s Bran Castle, the houses of the royal families of Europe have always been on the bucketlist of travellers to the continent. While the lockdown prevents you from visiting in person, you can go on a virtual tour through these five spectacular royal edifices.
Buckingham Palace, United Kingdom
Do you remember a media report from 1982 when an unemployed decorator wandered into the bedroom of Queen Elizabeth II and the queen was said to have kept her cool and engaged the man in conversation until the security people arrived? There have been several attempts (even last year) to surreptitiously enter the palace, which has served as the official London residence of the UK’s royal family since 1837 and today is their administrative headquarters. Although it is not possible to take a peek into the 775 rooms of the palace, some of the rooms are open for a virtual tour on the official website of the British royal family. The tour begins with the Grand Staircase, and further clicks will take you to the White Drawing Room, the Throne Room and the Blue Drawing Room. Another virtual tour of the palace is also available on Google’s virtual reality project designed for schools.
Palace of Versailles, France
The residence and court of the French monarchy, the opulent palace that we see today had a humble beginning, as a hunting lodge built by Louis XIII in 1623. Louis XIV (1638-1715) took a liking to Versailles and decided to rebuild the hunting lodge turned chateau into a splendid work of art and architecture, which was further expanded and embellished by later kings. Now take a virtual tour inside this grand palace located near Paris, which served as the inspiration for many later European palaces. It's on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list.
Most experts ascribe the French name, meaning 'without worry', to the fact that the Prussian king, Frederick the Great, would retire here when he wanted to relax, away from the glamour and royal duties of the Berlin court. The virtual tour will take you inside this quaint Rococo style edifice built between 1745 and 1747.
National Palace of Sintra, Portugal
Located in the Greater Lisbon region, this is a major tourist destination on the Portuguese Riviera. But luxury dining is not its only attraction. The cultural landscape of Sintra earned it a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list in 1995. Take a virtual look at the National Palace of Sintra or the Town Palace. Situated in the town centre, it was likely built on the site of a Moorish castle. The palace buildings inside mostly date back to the early 15th and early 16th centuries.
Skokloster Castle, Sweden
Built between 1654 and 1676, this Baroque-style castle was commissioned by Count Carl Gustaf Wrangel when Sweden was one of the major powers of Europe. However, it was never completed because the workmen left after the count died in 1676. The incomplete banqueting hall and the tools left behind stand as mute witness to the incident. Take a virtual tour of the castle to enjoy the architecture and the collection of books, textiles, weapons, silver, etc. mostly dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
Bran Castle, Romania
This Romanian landmark, a national monument, dating back to the 14th century, is often referred to as Dracula’s Castle, even though there has been no strong proof to link this fortress with that described by Bram Stoker in his book about the bloodthirsty count. According to the castle’s official website, ‘Because Bran Castle is the only castle in all of Transylvania that actually fits Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s Castle, it is known throughout the world as Dracula’s Castle’. The website also runs a video tour of the castle on its website. Or, you can also see it here.