Peterhof Palace is located in Peterhof, Saint Petersburg, Russia. Built by Peter the Great between 1714-1723, the large complex boasts grand palaces and sits on 500 acres with 144 fountains, extensive gardens, and over 200 statues. There is a narrow canal called the Sea Channel that leads from the Bay of Finland to the complex, which allowed visitors to sail through the tree-lined channel to the palace. The majority of water fountains are decorated with gilt statues, the fountains operate by using force gravity instead of pumps. The Grand Cascade is an ornate terrace where water flows down the multitude of levels. Several fountains surround it and there’s an artificial grotto beneath the cascades. The largest palace in the complex is the Grand Palace, which has been enlarged and renovated through the centuries. Peter created the palace to impress and to serve as a statement that the Russian Empire should be admired. Peter drew inspiration from the French court of Versailles and other royal sites he visited before he commissioned the palace. The palace served as a residence for Russian royalty for over 200 years, until the empire ended in 1917. After the Russian revolution, the complex became an educational center. During WWII, German forces damaged the complex, but the structures were rebuilt. Since then, Peterhof has served as a park and museum and has been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Peterhof Palace is one of Russia’s most famous sites and nicknamed by some as “The Russian Versailles.”
Blenheim Palace is located in Oxfordshire, England. The massive country house was built from 1705-1722 for the Dukes of Marlborough. John Churchill, the first duke of Marlborough, was gifted the ruined royal manor of Woodstock Palace, along with a large sum of money by Queen Anne. He was to use these gifts to build a house commemorating his achievements and success at the Battle of Blenheim. The Blenheim residence is the only non-royal, non-episcopal palace in England and is considered one of England’s largest houses. The palace is a family home, a mausoleum, and a national monument. The palace holds a grand collection of portraits, furniture, sculpture, tapestries, books, and a Willis organ in the chapel. The castle is the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill and boasts a Churchill Exhibition. The Spencer-Churchill families remain in residence at the castle for over 300 years and are responsible for many of the interior changes, as well as developing the gardens and park. The palace is linked to the gardens by a miniature railway. The property holds a grand three acre forecourt, a Column of Victory, the Temple of Diana, the Temple of Health, a boathouse, a hedge maze, and water terraces all set in 2000 plus acres of parkland surrounding the palace. The Baroque palace was saved from ruin when the 9thDuke of Marlborough married American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt in 1896. The palace was used as a convalescence hospital for soldiers during WWI. Recently, the castle served the UK state dinner for Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Trump. Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open to the public. There is a visitor center, a shop, and a café on the property.
Atholl Palace is located in Pitlochry, Scotland. The turreted palace has been established as a hotel for over 135 years, but was used as a school during both World Wars. In 1874, the palace was designed as a Baronial Hydropathic hotel with Turkish baths, treatment rooms, and luxury accommodations. The construction took 150 men four years to complete. In 1886, the lands were sold to William MacDonald who converted the palace into a luxury resort. The water therapy treatments were still available, but MacDonald wished for the “fashionable” to visit his hotel and so he added motor rallies, fancy dress balls, and tennis as further entertainments. In 1913, the Lunn brothers and their company purchased the castle and began modernization of the electrical; powered by generators. In 2001, The Castle Collection Company purchased the palace and an extensive refurbishment began. This included restoring the Victorian spa and Turkish baths. In 2005, the Atholl museum was established in the old servants wing of the palace. The Palace boasts 106 en-suite rooms, a spa, a snooker room, a library, conference rooms, all weather tennis courts, 49 acres of gardens, a putting green, a pitch and putt course, and guest cottages.
Scone Palace is located in the city of Perth in Scotland.
The Georgian gothic style castle was finished in 1808. Made of red sandstone
with a castellated roof, the estate dates back to Scotland’s 9th
century founding fathers. Scone was known to be the place where the Scottish
kings were crowned for nearly 1000 years as it was home to the Stone of Scone
(Stone of Destiny). Scone was an important gathering place for the Picts in the
8th century, and the site of an early Christian church. The palace
served as an abbey in the 12th century, but it was damaged during
the Scottish Reformation in 1559. The abbey became a secular home for the Earls
of Mansfield for the next 400 years. The palace was enlarged in the 19th
century and in 1842, further work was undertaken to get the castle up to par
for a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The castle has numerous
peacocks on the 200-acre estate, including several albino males; all the male peacocks
are called Robert the Bruce. Scone Palace is open to the public and has a 17th
century chapel, a star-shaped maze garden, a replica of the Stone of Destiny, a
food hall, a gift shop, a coffee shop, and Moot Hill, the crowning place of the
kings of Scotland.
The Palace of Versailles is located in Versailles, France.
The royal château served as the seat of French
political power. The palace was originally built as a hunting lodge for King
Louis XIII and enlarged into a royal place by Louis XIV. The château went through many expansion phases. The second phase
in 1678-1715 saw two enormous wings added. Although the cost was extraordinary,
it was decided the château should serve as a
showcase of France. All the materials that went into construction and décor
were manufactured in France. One of the most costly elements was the silver
furniture and silver balustrade used by King Louis XIV for the grand
apartments. The palace has a long history, with the royal family being forced
to move out of Paris during the French Revolution. When the monarchy fell,
Versailles Palace fell into ruin and most of the furniture was sold. In 1810,
Napoleon began restoration work, which continued under Louis XVIII in 1820, but
it wasn’t until King Louis-Philippe when the true efforts began. The Fifth
Republic made further restorations in the 1950’s and promoted the château as a museum. In 2003, a new restoration initiative
began. The palace boasts 700 rooms, 67 staircases, and 1,250 fireplaces. The
original façade is done in red brick with cut stone embellishments, which has
been preserved. The eastern side of the palace has a U-shaped layout with
secondary wings and a black and white marble courtyard. Over the course of its
history, there have been five chapels on the site, the current one built in the
Baroque style by King Louis XVI. The castle is also known for its Hall of
Mirrors, this gallery is 230 feet long and holds 17-arcaded mirrors, while the
ceiling is painted with 30 different scenes from Louis XIV’s reign. The Royal
Opera was completed in 1770. The castle has many opulent apartments from the
king’s private apartments to the state apartments. The gardens at Versailles
are filled with water fountains, which includes an orangery. The Palace
of Versailles is open to the public and serves as a museum.