A wonderful architectural style that began in the late 16th-century in Italy, before spreading throughout the entirety of Europe, Baroque architecture is one of the grandest, and most easily recognizable styles in the whole continent.
Here are the top 10 most beautiful Baroque palaces to visit in Europe, each of which brings with it a fascinating and unique history, as well as some of the most exquisite examples of architectural genius:
10 Must – See Baroque Palaces
1. Vaux-Le-Vicomte Palace, France
The Chateau de Vaux-Le-Vicomte is a magnificent Baroque French chateau that is situated in Maincy, which is around 34 miles southeast of Paris. The palace was originally built between the years 1658 and 1661 for Nicolas Fouquet, Marquis de Belle Ile Viscount of Melun, and Vaux, who was the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV.
An interesting fact regarding the architecture of Vaux-Le-Vicomte Palace is that it was originally supposed to be built in brick and stone, yet, after the mid-century, the middle classes started to use this style, so this aristocratic circles began to use stone exclusively, as not to appear on the same level as the lower class.
Where: Maincy, France
When: 1658 – 1661
2. Palace of Versailles, France
Perhaps one of the most iconic and famous palaces in the entire world, The Palace of Versailles was the historical principal royal residence of France, starting in the year 1682 under the reign of Louis XIV, until the French Revolution began in the year 1789, under the reign of Louis XVI.
The origins of the Palace actually date back to the mid-17th century, where a very simple hunting lodge, and later a small moated chateau were situated on the site.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Palace of Versailles receives millions of visitors a year who are captivated by the exquisite charm and the staggering amount of history that is alive and present in the Palace.
Where: Versailles, France
When: 17th Century
3. Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Royal Palace of Amsterdam, or as it is known in Dutch, ‘Koninklijk Paleis van Amsterdam’, is one of the most iconic palaces in the entire country, and has a rich, varied, and utterly fascinating heritage. It is renowned as being one of three palaces in the Netherlands which are, by Act of Parliament, as the disposal of the monarchy.
Originally built in the midst of the Dutch Golden Age which took place in the 17th Century, The Royal Palace was initially built as a city hall, and it later became the royal palace of King Louis Napoleon, where it developed its masterful Baroque architectural style.
Where: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
4. Ludwigsburg Palace, Germany
Situated in Ludwigsburg in the Baden-Wurttemberg region of Germany lies the exquisite Baroque masterpiece that is Ludwigsburg Palace. Often regarded as the ‘Versailles of Swabia’, this gigantic 452-room complex consists of a total of 18 buildings and is renowned for being the largest palatial estate in the country.
Its construction began in 1704, after Eberhard Louis, Duke of Wurttemberg appointed the renowned architect, Philipp Joseph Jenisch to design and direct the construction of the palace. Today, Ludwigsburg Palace is one of the most popular and frequently visited palaces in the entire country.
Where: Ludwigsburg, Germany
When: Early 18th Century
5. Manheim Palace, Germany
Mannheim Palace in the German city of Mannheim is an enormous Baroque palace, which was originally built to function as the main residence for the Prince-electors of the Electorate of the Palatinate of the House of Wittelsbach.
Today, part of the palace is actually used by the University of Mannheim, and it still contains many original features, including furnishings, porcelain, silverware, paintings, and tapestries, many of which are still in incredibly well-preserved condition.
Today, the palace is open to the general public and can be visited alongside an accompanying audio guide.
Where: Mannheim, Germany
When: 18th Century
6. Schönbrunn Palace, Austria
Situated in the heart of the bustling Austrian city of Vienna, Schonbrunn Palace is absolutely awe-inspiring.
Originally functioning as the primary summer residence for the Habsburg rules, this 1,441-room Baroque masterpiece of a Palace is one of the most important monuments in the entire country, in terms of both architecture, and cultural and historic significance.
Its origins date way back to the year 1569 when Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II purchased a floodplain, and an earlier erected mansion stood. Since this point, the castle has grown and expanded rapidly, and with each century, a new degree of lavishness was added.
Where: Vienna, Austria
7. Royal Palace of Madrid
Occupying a whopping 135,000 square meters, The Royal Palace of Madrid in Spain is the largest functioning royal palace and is also the largest by floor area in the entirety of Europe.
It is today the official residence of the Spanish royal family and is used primarily for state ceremonies. The palace has so much history, which dates back to its year on construction, 1735; it was constructed by Filippo Juvarra, a renowned architect, and was built as a residence for King Felipe V of Spain.
Today, it is a very popular tourist attraction, and it is possible to explore both the inside and outside.
Where: Madrid, Spain
8. Catherine Palace, Russia
Situated in the Russian town of Tsarskoye Selo lies the gorgeous Catherine Palace, which was the historic summer residence of the Russian tsars. One of the reasons that Catherine Palace is so renowned to this day is for its exquisite and grand Baroque architecture, which truly sets it apart from many other palaces in the country. It offers visitors a rich, varied, and exciting history, and it is of great historic and cultural importance.
Where: Tsarskoye Selo, Russia
When: 18th century
9. National Palace of Mafra, Portugal
The National Palace of Mafra is an enormous and grand monumental Baroque and Neoclassical palace in the heart of the Portuguese city of Mafra.
It is a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has a rich heritage, which dates back to the year 1717, where it was constructed under the rule of King John V of Portugal. Today, it is a highly popular and frequently visited tourist attraction.
Where: Mafra, Portugal
When: 18th century
10. Peterhof Palace, Russia
The impressive and vast Peterhof Palace in Russia is actually a series of palaces and gardens, which were originally commissioned by Peter the Great, as a response to the splendour of the Palace of Versailles in France. It is equally grand and impressive, and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There is an array of things to explore here, including The Grand Cascade and the Samson Fountain, which is enormous, and truly exquisite to cast your gaze upon. There are also a series of gardens, which are perfect for spending a sunny afternoon getting lost in.
Where: St Petersburg, Russia
When: Early 18th century