A palace is an important urban residence of a royal or noble family, with its origins as the executive power center of a kingdom.
The word "palace" to describe a royal residence comes from the name of one of the seven hills of Rome, the Palatine Hill. 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 residential area. Augustus Caesar lived there in a purposefully modest house only set apart from his neighbors by the two laurel trees planted to flank the front door as a sign of triumph granted by the Senate. His descendants, especially Nero, with his "Golden House" enlarged the house and grounds over and over until it took up the hill top. The word Palatium came to mean the residence of the emperor rather than the neighborhood on top of the hill.
Historians apply the term "palace" anachronistically, to label the complex structures of Minoan Knossos, or the Mycenaean palace societies, or the 4th century incompletely-Hellenized palace system of Philip of Macedon's Vergina— or palaces outside the European world entirely.
Charlemagne consciously revived the Roman expression in his "palace" at Aachen, of which only his chapel remains. In the 9th century the "palace" indicated the whole government, and the constantly-travelling Charlemagne built fourteen. The center of administration in a French town is still generally called the "Palais de Justice." It is generally located prominently on a public square.
In France there has been a clear distinction between a château and a palais. The palace has always been urban, like the palace of the Popes at Avignon. The chateau has always been in rural settings, supported by its demesne, even when it was no longer actually fortified. Speakers of English think of the "Palace of Versailles" because it was the seat of power, though the building has always remained the Château de Versailles for the French. The Louvre began as a fortified Château du Louvre on the edge of Paris, but as the seat of government and shorn of its fortified architecture, then completely surrounded by the city, it developed into the Palais du Louvre.
In England, by tacit agreement, there have been no "palaces" outside royal palaces, and, for comparable reasons, residences of the archbishops of Canterbury, such as Lambeth Palace, or the less-important Addington Palace. In this sense the archbishop's "palace" is the center of church government. The Palace of Beaulieu gained its name precisely when Thomas Boleyn sold it to Henry VIII in 1517; previously it had been known as Walkfares. The Palace of Holyrood, it will be noted, is in Scotland, and when the Palace of Blenheim was the gift of a grateful nation to a great general, the name was part of the extraordinary honor. The Crystal Palace of 1851 seemed no thin edge of the wedge, being just a hugely inflated greenhouse for the Great Exhibition, but it has spawned sports arenas, like Alexandra Palace that are palaces the way Madison Square Garden is a garden.
In Italy, by contrast, the palazzo of a family 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 to any large fine apartment building.
Many extant palaces have been transformed for other uses, such as parliaments or museums.
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1.1 Austria2 List of Non-residential Palaces
1.11 United States
1.12 Vatican City
List of Palaces
Some palaces and former palaces include:
List of Non-residential Palaces
Some large impressive buildings which were not meant to be residences, but are nonetheless called palaces, include: