The Grand Palace – Thailand
The Grand Palace is an imposing yet delicately detailed and elegant structure in the heart of Bangkok. Originally constructed as the royal residence of the Kings of Siam in 1782, the palace is now partially open to the public and has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Bangkok. The sprawling complex is spread over an area of 218,400 square meters and is comprised of several buildings separated by lush gardens and luxurious courtyards. Among the many treasures held at the Grand Palace is the legendary Emerald Buddha, an artefact of great spiritual and cultural importance to the Thai people.
The Royal Palace – Cambodia
The Royal Palace was built in 1866 and was loosely modelled on the Grand Palace in Thailand. The palace has served as the exclusive residence of the Kings of Cambodia ever since its construction, except for a brief period during the tumultuous reign of the Khmer Rouge. The palace complex consists of 4 compounds surrounded by defensive walls. The most notable buildings include: The Throne Hall, The Moonlight Pavillion, The Silver Pagoda and The Khemarin Palace. The Silver Pagoda was once inlaid with 5000 silver tiles (some can still be viewed today) and contains a life-sized Buddha made of gold and decorated with 9584 diamonds.
The Forbidden City – China
It is hard to find a more impressive symbol of power and authority than the “Purple Forbidden City” in Beijing. The exclusive residence of Chinese Emperors for almost 500 years, this palace is now open to the public. Besides the incredible buildings which have influenced architecture across East Asia, the Palace Museum holds an impressive collection of artifacts from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The collection is estimated to contain over a million rare and valuable works of art.
Mandalay Palace – Myanmar
Known variously as the “Great Golden Palace” and “Famed Royal Emerald Palace”, this royal residence was built in 1857 by King Mindon and served as the last home of the Burmese Royal Family. The palace has had a long and turbulent history, having been occupied at various times by British and Japanese forces until it was nearly completely destroyed by allied bombing during WW2. The most famous building within the palace grounds was the Glass Palace, that served as the principal living quarters of the king.
Akasaka Palace – Japan
Originally built as the residence of the Crown Prince in 1909, the Akasaka Palace now serves as a guesthouse for foreign dignitaries. The palace is a unique example of Neo-Baroque architecture in Japan and is often compared to Buckingham Palace, it is also a very tangible symbol of the western influences which helped shape modern Japan during the Meiji Restoration. The first official guest to stay at the Akasaka Palace was U.S. President Gerald Ford when he visited Tokyo in 1974.
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