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Grand houses are buildings created to house either the nobility and royalty, or in later eras, those that had made their fortune by various means. Whilst some grand houses are or were palaces, other châteaux, stately homes, manor houses, Schloss and Residenz can be considered as grand houses. Some are or have been owned by monarchies.


A palace is a grand residence, usually for a head of state. The word comes from the French word palais, which implies that the building is in a city.

A castle is a fortification from the Middle Ages (9th to 15th century) used as a royal or noble residence, especially in Europe and Japan.

Château (plural châteaux) is the French word for a countryside manor or palace; the master residence of a countryside estate. Schloss (traditional spelling Schloß) is the corresponding German word. If these buildings are from the 15th century or earlier, they are likely to be fortified.

A manor is in English law an estate with a manorial court; jurisdiction over an estate.

Map of Grand houses



  • 1 Forbidden City (故宫 Gùgōng), Beijing. Built on the orders of Emperor Yongle, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and the official residence of China's emperors during the most recent Ming and Qing Dynasties. Forbidden City (Q80290) on Wikidata Forbidden City on Wikipedia
  • 2 Summer Palace (颐和园 Yíhéyuán), Beijing. Originally an imperial garden that was heavily damaged by the French and the British at the end of the Second Opium War. It was later repaired and expanded on the orders of Empress Dowager Cixi between 1884 and 1895, who diverted funds originally meant for modernising the Chinese navy in order to do so. Summer Palace (Q4132) on Wikidata Summer Palace on Wikipedia
  • 3 Kong Family Mansion (孔府 Kǒngfǔ), Qufu. Home to the mainline descendants of Confucius in imperial times. Kong Family Mansion (Q5922554) on Wikidata Kong Family Mansion on Wikipedia
  • 4 Meng Family Mansion (孟府 Mèngfǔ), Zoucheng. Home to the mainline descendants of Mencius in imperial times. Meng Family Mansion (Q10945150) on Wikidata


  • 5 Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所 Kyōto-gosho), Central Kyoto. The palace is a reconstruction (dating from 1855), though the Emperor doesn't spend much time there, and the guided tour doesn't enter the palace buildings, only peeking at them from the outside, but nevertheless, it provides interesting insight into the lives of the Imperial Court and it's the only Imperial site in Kyoto that offers English guides. Free. Kyoto Imperial Palace (Q1202239) on Wikidata Kyoto Imperial Palace on Wikipedia

South Korea[edit]

  • 6 Gyeongbokgung (경복궁 (景福宮)), Seoul. Official residence of Korea's kings during the Joseon Dynasty. Free. Gyeongbokgung (Q482485) on Wikidata Gyeongbokgung on Wikipedia



  • 7 Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, this Habsburg summer palace is comparable in grandeur to Versailles. The particular sociolect of the ruling Habsburgs was nicknamed "Schönbrunner Deutsch" after this palace. Schönbrunn Palace (Q131330) on Wikidata Schönbrunn Palace on Wikipedia


Finland was made a republic on independence, and the Finnish nobility in Swedish and Russian times was rather poor, so the mansions are not as spectacular as in Central Europe or even Sweden. A few mansions are museums, while many are mostly available in connection with events.

  • 8 Kultaranta (Gullranda) (Naantali, south-west Finland). Presidential summer residence. The garden is open for visits. Kultaranta (Q1746455) on Wikidata Kultaranta on Wikipedia
  • 9 Louhisaari (Villnäs slott) (Askainen, south-west Finland). Mansion from 1655 of the mighty Fleming family. Birthplace of Gustaf Mannerheim. Now a museum. Louhisaari Manor (Q1141721) on Wikidata Louhisaari manor on Wikipedia
  • 10 Tamminiemi (Ekudden) (Western Helsinki). Urho Kekkonen got to stay in the presidential residence when he resigned and it was subsequently made a museum. The new residence, Mäntyniemi (Talludden) and the presidential palace (Presidentinlinna, presidentens slott) are harder to pay real visits, but can be seen from the street. Tamminiemi (Q2459334) on Wikidata Tamminiemi on Wikipedia
  • 11 Turku castle (Turun linna, Åbo slott) (Turku, south-west Finland). John III of Sweden lived here before becoming king and he built a new storey for his household. The castle houses the historic museum of Turku. Turku Castle (Q136893) on Wikidata Turku Castle on Wikipedia


France has for most of its long history been a feudal monarchy (see Kingdom of France) with a wealthy noble class known for their great châteaux.

  • 12 Château de Versailles. Nov-Mar: Tu-Su 09:00-17:30, Apr-Oct: Tu-Su 09:00-18:30; closed Jan 1, May 1 and Dec 25. Normal pass - €20, €27 including Musical Fountain Shows or Gardens; two-day pass - €25/€30; Palace-only tickets: €18; Trianon-only tickets: €12; the Palace and Trianon are free for under-18s, EU citizens under 26, teachers and disabled people and one accompanying person. Palace of Versailles (Q2946) on Wikidata Palace of Versailles on Wikipedia


A Schloss (pre-1998 spelling in Germany and Austria Schloß) is usually a representative building that serves either as the main residence of a minor blue blood or a secondary residence of a higher ranking blue blood whereas a Residenz is the main residence and usually in the capital.

  • 15 Nymphenburg palace, Munich. Originally one of the smaller residential palaces, now it is the biggest Baroque palace in Germany. Nymphenburg Palace (Q131631) on Wikidata Nymphenburg Palace on Wikipedia
  • 16 Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein), Hohenschwangau. Built on the orders of King Ludwig II of Bavaria to resemble a medieval castle. It's not actually a castle because it does not have functional fortifications. Neuschwanstein Castle (Q4152) on Wikidata Neuschwanstein Castle on Wikipedia


  • 17 Royal Palace of Caserta. A former royal residence constructed for the Bourbon kings of Naples. It was the largest palace and one of the largest buildings erected in Europe during the 18th century. Caserta (Q1906) on Wikidata Caserta on Wikipedia
  • 18 Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale), Venice. Residence of the Doge, the leader of the former Republic of Venice. Doge's Palace (Q189883) on Wikidata Doge's Palace on Wikipedia
  • 19 Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Residence of the famed Medici banking family, who were the de facto leaders of the Republic of Florence. Pitti Palace (Q29286) on Wikidata Palazzo Pitti on Wikipedia


  • 20 Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg. The former main residence of the Russian tsars, nowadays hosts one of the world's great museums. Winter Palace (Q182147) on Wikidata Winter Palace on Wikipedia
  • 21 Catherine Palace, Saint Petersburg. A Rococo-style palace that was the main summer residence of the Russian tsars, named after Catherine the Great. Particularly known for its grand ballroom. Catherine Palace (Q2854543) on Wikidata Catherine Palace on Wikipedia
  • 22 Peterhof Palace, Saint Petersburg. Baroque-style palace commissioned by Peter the Great, known for a beautiful series of fountains known as the Grand Cascade just outside the main palace building. Peterhof Palace (Q1258473) on Wikidata Peterhof Palace on Wikipedia


  • 23 Palacio Real, Madrid. Official residence of the King of Spain. The King does not live here, however, and it is primarily used for state ceremonies. Open to the public when not in use for official functions. Royal Palace of Madrid (Q171517) on Wikidata Royal Palace of Madrid on Wikipedia


See also: Swedish monarchy

In Sweden, the word slott (from German Schloss) is used for a sometimes fortified residence for a king or a local ruler. Palats is used for palace-styled townhouses. Neither word has a fixed definition. Castles and fortresses primarily for defence are called borg (medieval) or fästning (later).

Most castles and fortifications in Sweden were made for the Swedish Empire of the 16th to 18th century.

Stockholm waterfront palace tour includes palaces of royals, nobles and merchants from several centuries.

United Kingdom[edit]

The first "grand houses" in the United Kingdom were predominantly residences for the monarchy, nobility, and sometimes prominent religious officials. Alongside the grand houses of these, are those that were built by those that had acquired their wealth either by favour, or by doing exceptionally well in trade or various industries (which developed from the 17th century onward). As well as being residences, the grand houses of some were also intended as a showcase for the artworks which the owners had "collected", or designs they had commissioned.

The peak for grand houses came in the early 20th century, after which many grand houses went into decline, before some were actively preserved.

  • 24 Chatsworth House (A few miles from Bakewell). Massive and spectacular late-17th-century stately home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (inspiration for Pemberley, apparently), open to public, pay for parking but with free access to surrounding area (flat riverside ambles, wooded hillside trails, famous fountain. Restaurants, at old stables, cafe at car park in grounds. Chatsworth House (Q1068289) on Wikidata Chatsworth House on Wikipedia
  • 26 Cragside, Northumberland. A later 19th century Grand house constructed by the 1st Baron Armstrong, it was one of the first houses in England to be lit by hydro-electric power. Cragside (Q5180627) on Wikidata Cragside on Wikipedia
  • 27 Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. Although widely known as a birthplace a certain Winston Spencer Churchill, this extensive house and estate has been the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Malborough since the 16th century. Blenheim Palace (Q208181) on Wikidata Blenheim Palace on Wikipedia
  • 28 Osborne House, Cowes, Isle of Wight. Although officially a summer home for Queen Victoria, she used it as her main residence for some time after the death of Prince Albert, her husband. Now owned and operated by English Heritage, most of the well-preserved house and grounds are open to visitors year-round. Osborne House (Q565155) on Wikidata Osborne House on Wikipedia
  • 29 Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames, London, +44 8444 827777. Historic home to English kings such as Henry VIII, now open to the public. There are many attractions which can occupy a whole day visit, including 60 acres of gardens with the famous maze, the Tudor kitchens, the Chapel Royal, the Great Hall, Mantegna's Triumphs of Caesar paintings, and various exhibitions about Henry VIII. Hampton Court Palace (Q205666) on Wikidata Hampton Court Palace on Wikipedia
  • 30 Dumfries House, Cumnock, near Ayr (Scotland). 18th-century Palladian mansion with extensive collection of Chippendale furniture, and grounds. Nearby Culzean Castle, a magnificent 18th-century mansion designed by Robert Adam is also worth seeing. Dumfries House (Q5313796) on Wikidata Dumfries House on Wikipedia

Middle East[edit]

North America[edit]

United States[edit]

In the United States, there is no nobility, but there has been a kind of quasi-nobility that has encompassed old landowning families like the Roosevelts, the robber barons of yesteryear and today and the movie moguls and stars. Many of these people had mansions built in the New York area, including the Hudson Valley and Long Island, and the Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills. There was also another type of grand house: The houses of large slaveholders in the antebellum (pre-Civil War) South. In both North and South, many of the grand houses are part of larger estates that can in many instances be visited.

  • 31 Hearst Castle, 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, California (3 miles north of town), toll-free: +1-800-444-4445 (reservations). This palatial estate built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst is one of the most visited attractions in California. See the amazing European architecture including the Spanish cathedral-like facade, the Neptune Pool, and the Roman Baths. Think of it as a museum where many of the centuries-old pieces are built into the structure of the building. It is located at the top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A 40-minute movie about the history of the castle shows every 45 minutes from 8:15AM to 6:45PM in the five-story theater in the Visitor Center off Highway 1. There are three different daytime guided tours, each lasting 45 minutes and each costing $25 for adults. There is an additional 30 minutes of travel time from the Visitor Center and back by bus – it is no longer necessary to make the bus trip for every tour, if doing multiple tours. Reservations recommended – book online where you can see how many of the up to 52 seats are still available for each time, and be wary of seats filling quickly close to the time. $25 adults, $12 children, more for longer tours. Hearst Castle (Q378143) on Wikidata Hearst Castle on Wikipedia
  • 32 Montgomery Place, 25 Gardener Way, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, +1 845-758-5461. Grounds admission: dawn to dusk daily; Mansion tours Saturdays, June 2-October 13 only, with tours at 10:30AM, 11:30AM, 1:30PM, and 2:30PM. No reservations needed.. 380-acre historic site overlooking the Hudson, including a grand mansion that was the property of the Livingstone family, whose ancestors migrated to New York from Scotland when it was a British colony in the 17th century and two of whom were among the signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The grounds are lovely, with great views of the Hudson, and are home to lots of wildlife. The property also includes signposted trails, the best of which is the Sawkill Trail, which you can follow to see a view of a beautiful little waterfall which was depicted in art starting in the 1820s. This property was acquired by Bard College in 2016 and is officially called Montgomery Place Campus. Access to the grounds is free. Mansion tours: $10/person. Montgomery Place (Q1946293) on Wikidata Montgomery Place on Wikipedia
  • 33 Olana, Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, New York, +1 518 828-0135. 5720 Route 9G. The mountain-top villa of Frederic Church, one of the most prominent Hudson River painters and one of the United States' most significant artists. From the hilltop home there are sweeping views of the Catskills, the Hudson River, and the Taconic Hills. Grounds are open year round for walking, hiking, cross-country skiing, and other activities. Olana State Historic Site (Q2018138) on Wikidata Olana State Historic Site on Wikipedia
  • 34 Sagamore Hill, 20 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay, New York. The Visitor Center and Bookstore are open W-Su from 9AM to 5PM. Tours of the Theodore Roosevelt Home are offered W-Su, between 10AM and 4PM. The summer home of President Theodore Roosevelt, a scion of a family of wealthy Dutch landowners who settled in Nieuw Amsterdam in the mid 17th century. Includes tours, a museum, and a visitor center. It is run by the National Park Service. From the website: Access to the Theodore Roosevelt Home is only by guided tour. Same-day tickets can be purchased on a first come, first served basis from the Visitor Center. Advanced reservations to tour Theodore Roosevelt's home can be booked through or call (877) 444-6777. $10. Sagamore Hill (Q7398976) on Wikidata Sagamore Hill (house) on Wikipedia
  • 35 Mount Vernon. The home of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Mount Vernon (Q731635) on Wikidata Mount Vernon on Wikipedia
  • 36 Monticello. The home of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers and the third president of the United States, and the founder of the University of Virginia. Monticello on Wikipedia
  • 37 Winchester Mystery House. Mansion Winchester Mystery House (Q608039) on Wikidata Winchester Mystery House on Wikipedia
  • 38 `Iolani Palace, Honolulu/Downtown, Hawaii. Iolani Palace dates back to 1882 and was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom's last two monarchs. As a result of careful restoration and continued preservation, today's visitors to this National Historic Landmark in downtown Honolulu can experience one of the most precise historic restorations and learn much about Hawaiian history and heritage. Next to the palace is `Iolani Barracks, a small fortress-like building. ʻIolani Palace (Q423525) on Wikidata ʻIolani Palace on Wikipedia


New Zealand[edit]

  • 39 Larnach Castle, Otago Peninsula, near Dunedin. Billed as "the only castle" in New Zealand, it's very pretty but it's actually a manor house. Lanarch Castle has a rich and interesting but rather unhappy history. It was built by wealthy businessman William Larnach, who became a cabinet minister in the New Zealand Government, holding various portfolios, over a period of 25 years. He took his own life in the New Zealand Parliament Buildings in 1898. After the home was sold by the family it became first a lunatic asylum, then a hospital for shell-shocked soldiers and a nuns' retreat. In 1967 it was purchased by new owners and restored. Larnach Castle (Q1759455) on Wikidata Larnach Castle on Wikipedia

See also[edit]

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