Palaces

Palaces

A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop.
The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, the hill which housed the Imperial residences in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the term is also applied to ambitious private mansions of the aristocracy. Many historic palaces are now put to other uses such as parliaments, museums, hotels or office buildings.

The word "palace" comes from Old French palais (imperial residence), from Latin Palātium, the name of one of the seven hills of Rome. The original "palaces" on the Palatine Hill were the seat of the imperial power while the "capitol" on the Capitoline Hill was the religious nucleus of Rome. Long after the city grew to the seven hills the Palatine remained a desirable residential area. Emperor Caesar Augustus lived there in a purposely modest house only set apart from his neighbours 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 Palātium came to mean the residence of the emperor rather than the neighbourhood on top of the hill.

The earliest known palaces were the royal residences of the Egyptian Pharaohs at Thebes, featuring an outer wall enclosing labyrinthine buildings and courtyards. Other ancient palaces include the Assyrian palaces at Nimrud and Nineveh, the Minoan palace at Knossos, and the Persian palaces at Persepolis and Susa. Palaces in East Asia, such as the imperial palaces of Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, large stone and wooden structures in the Philippines and China's Forbidden City, consist of many low pavilions surrounded by vast, walled gardens, in contrast to the single building palaces of Medieval Western Europe.

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