Buckingham Palace – The Most Iconic Palaces In The United Kingdom
One of the most iconic palaces in the United Kingdom is, without a doubt, the Buckingham Palace. The royal residence for the past century and a half, this wonderful palace still enchants its visitors to this day.
Originally the palace was simply a mansion built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham. However, about 60 years later, King George III bought the estate and turned into a private residence for his wife, Queen Charlotte. Throughout the years the mansion was enlarged, and several wings were added to the original building. When Queen Victoria was crowned in 1837, what was formerly known as “The Queen’s House” became the official royal palace or the Buckingham Palace. Since then, every British monarch has lived there, including the current one, Queen Elisabeth II. Google
Today, it is one of the most well-known buildings in the world and a great touristic attraction, not only because of its great beauty but mostly for the chance of catching a sneak peek at a member of the royal family.
With an eclectic mix of architectural styles, this palace has been augmented and refurbished several times, accordingly with every monarch’s taste. Nowadays, many rooms inside the palace can be visited including the fabulous State Rooms. However, these tours are only available during summer, when the Queen is spending time at Balmoral, her palace in Scotland.
The main attraction of the Buckingham Palace is the Changing of the Guard. A free show which takes place every day during summer and every other day during winter, at 11.30 am, this procession attracts thousands of curious tourists every time. Those who want to learn more about this impressive tradition can take a tour of the Guards Museum, right next to the palace, where they can admire different types of uniforms, weapons and three centuries-old artefacts.
Those lucky enough to be able to explore the inside of the palace should definitely start their tour with the State Rooms. Here, visitors will get a chance to admire brilliant masterpieces by Canova and Van Dyck, while also exploring the Throne Room, the Music Room, the two drawing rooms and the Picture Gallery, which features paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Rubens.
Another great highlight of the palace is the Royal Mews. Here tourists can see some of the carriages the royal family uses during certain ceremonies. The most beautiful one is without a doubt the Gold State Coach, which was built in 1762 for King George III. The carriage is so heavy that is takes eight horses in order to pull it. However, it has been used for every coronation since the crowning of George IV in 1821.
Another beautiful carriage is the Glass Coach which is over a century old and has been used mostly for royal weddings. However, the carriages are not the only interesting vehicles here – most royal limousines are also housed here, including the rare Rolls Royce Phantom VI.
There are many other parts of the palace that can be visited, including the Clarence House, the official residence of the Prince of Wales, and the Queen’s Gallery, which houses hundreds of artworks from the royal collection.
After so much history, the best way to unwind is by taking a stroll near the palace. Visitors have two choices – the Mall or St. James Park.
The Mall is a large avenue connecting Buckingham Palace to the Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square. Through this avenue visiting head of states are escorted to the palace, usually in the company of the Queen. During major celebrations, the royal family usually passes through the Mall while thousands of people greet them from the sides.
St. James Park is one of the most beautiful green spaces in London. And since the city is renowned for its beautiful parks, that says something. This 57 acres park, right in front of Buckingham Palace, houses a plethora of birds, including several species of ducks, swans and even pelicans. What is more, dozens of squirrels roam the trees and lawns of the parks, and most of them are very friendly, particularly with visitors who also happen to carry treats.