The Moscow Kremlin is a historic fortified complex at the very heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River (to the south), Saint Basil’s Cathedral (often mistaken by westerners as the Kremlin) and Red Square (to the east) and the Alexander Garden (to the west). It is the best known of kremlins (Russian citadels) and includes four palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers.
The first recorded stone structures in the Kremlin were built at the behest of Ivan Kalita in the late 1320s and early 1330s, after Peter, Metropolitan of Rus had moved his seat from Kiev to Moscow. By 1475, the principalities of medieval Russia were united under Grand Prince Ivan III, who assumed the title of the Grand Prince of All Rus, envisioning Moscow as the only legitimate successor to Rome and Constantinople. In order to illustrate his imperial ambitions, Ivan organised the reconstruction of the Kremlin, inviting a number of skilled architects from Renaissance Italy, like Pietro Antonio Solari and Marco Ruffo. During Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, the French forces occupied the Kremlin from 2 September to 11 October. When Napoleon fled Moscow, he ordered the whole Kremlin to be blown up. The Kremlin Arsenal, several portions of the Kremlin Wall and several wall towers were destroyed by explosions and fires damaged the Faceted Chamber and churches. Explosions continued for three days, from 21 to 23 October. Fortunately, the rain damaged the fuses, and the damage was less severe than intended. After that, it took the Soviets to take the government from Petrograd to Moscow again on 1918. The complex now serves as the official residence of the President of Russia.
Palac Prezydencki (Poland)
The Palac Prezydencki in Warsaw, Poland, is the elegant classicist latest version of a building that has stood on the Krakowskie Przedmiescie site since 1643. Over the years, it has been rebuilt and remodeled many times. For its first 175 years, the palace was the private property of several aristocratic families. In 1791 it hosted the authors and advocates of Poland’s May 3rd Constitution, Europe’s first modern codified national constitution, and the world’s second after the U.S. Constitution.
It was in 1818 that the palace began its ongoing career as a governmental structure, when it became the seat of the Viceroy of the Polish (Congress) Kingdom under Russian occupation. Following Poland’s resurrection after World War I, in 1918, the building was taken over by the newly reconstituted Polish authorities and became the seat of the Council of Ministers. During World War II, it served the country’s German occupiers as a Deutsches Haus and survived intact the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. After the war, it resumed its function as seat of the Polish Council of Ministers. In July 1994 it replaced the much smaller and more difficult to protect. Belweder palace as the official residence of the Polish President.
Palácio do Planalto (Brazil)
The Palácio do Planalto (English: “Palace of the Plateau”) is the official workplace of the President of Brazil. It is located at the Praça dos Três Poderes in Brasília, Brazil. As the seat of government, the term “o Planalto” is often used as a metonym for the executive branch of the government.
The architect of the Palácio do Planalto was Oscar Niemeyer, the “creator” of most of the important buildings in the new capital of Brasília. The idea was to project an image of simplicity and modernity using fine lines and waves to compose the columns and exterior structures. The Palace is four stories high, and has an area of 36,000 m². Four other adjacent buildings are also part of the complex.
Presidential Palace (Vietnam)
The Presidential Palace of Vietnam, located in the city of Hanoi, was built between 1900 and 1906 to house the French Governor-General of Indochina. It was constructed by Auguste Henri Vildieu, the official French architect for Vietnam. Like most French colonial architecture, the palace is pointedly European- the only visual cues that it is located in Vietnam at all are mango trees growing on the grounds.
When Vietnam achieved independence in 1954, Ho Chi Minh refused to live in the grand structure for symbolic reasons, although he still received state guests there, and he eventually built a traditional Vietnamese stilt house and carp pond on the grounds. Today, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum stands nearby and the Presidential Palace remains part of Hanoi’s cultural core. The palace hosts government meetings.
Palazzo del Quirinale (Italy)
The palace, located on the Via del Quirinale and facing onto the Piazza del Quirinale, was built in 1573 by Pope Gregory XIII as a papal summer residence. It was also used as the location for many papal conclaves. It served as a papal residence and housed the central offices responsible for the civil government of the Papal States until 1870. In September, 1870, what was left of the Papal States was overthrown. About five months later, in 1871, Rome became the capital of the new Kingdom of Italy. The palace was occupied during the invasion of Rome and became the official royal residence of the Kings of Italy, though in reality some monarchs, notably King Victor Emmanuel III (reigned 1900-1946) actually lived in a private residence elsewhere, the Quirinale being used simply as an office and for state functions. The monarchy was abolished in 1946 and the Palace became the official residence and workplace for the Presidents of the Italian Republic.
Grassalkovich Palace (Slovakia)
The Grassalkovich Palace is a palace in Bratislava and the seat of the President of Slovakia. It is situated next to the Summer Archbishop’s Palace. The building is a Rococo/late Baroque summer palace with a French garden. It was built in 1760 for Count Antal Grassalkovich, a Hungarian noble of Croatian origin serving as the head of the Hungarian Chamber (a sort of ministry of economy and finance for the Kingdom of Hungary), by architect Anton Mayerhofer. It features many beautiful rooms and an impressive staircase.
Rashtrapati Bhavan (India)
Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence of the President of India, located in New Delhi. Until 1950 it was known as “Viceroy’s House” and served as the residence of the Governor-General of India.
During the Delhi Durbar year of 1911, it was decided that the capital of India would be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. This was announced on December 12 by King George V. As the plan for New Delhi took shape, the Governor-General’s residence was given an enormous scale and prominent position. The British architect Edwin Landseer Lutyens, a key member of the city-planning process, was also given the prime architectural opportunity of designing the building. The Viceroy declared that the palace was to be classical, but with an Indian motif.
Schloss Bellevue (Germany)
Schloss Bellevue is a château in the centre of Berlin. It is situated on the north edge of the Tiergarten park, beside the Spree, near the Berlin Victory Column, with the address “Spreeweg 1”. It has been the principal residence of the German President since 1994. Its name derives from its beautiful view over the Spree. It was built in 1786 for Prince Ferdinand of Prussia, the younger brother of King Frederick II of Prussia, and was designed by architect Philipp Daniel Boumann as a summer residence, on the site of a house built in 1743 by Knobelsdorff. It was the first Neoclassical building in Germany, and has three main elements: a central building of 19 bays, with a central pediment supported by Corinthian columns, with wings on either side (the “ladies’ wing” and the “Spree wing”). It is surrounded by a park covering 20 hectares.
It served as the official residence of the Crown Prince of Germany until 1918. The treaty ending the Franco-Prussian War was signed here on 3 September 1870. In the mid-1930s, it was used as a museum of ethnography, before being renovated as a guest house for the Third Reich. It was damaged in May 1945, at the end of the Second World War, and refurbished substantially in the 1950s. From 1957, it was a secondary residence of the President of Germany, a pied a terre in Berlin in addition to his primary residence at the Villa Hammerschmidt in Bonn. It was refurbished again in 1986/7, and Richard von Weizsäcker moved the primary residence of the President of Germany here in 1994, after the German reunification. It was reconstructed from 2004 to 2005 to remedy defects in earlier renovations. The President of Germany used Schloss Charlottenburg for representative purposes during this period. Schloss Bellevue became his primary residence again in January 2006.
The White House (USA)
The above is the White House in 1860. The architect of the White House was chosen in a competition, which received nine proposals, including one submitted anonymously by Thomas Jefferson. President Washington traveled to the site of the new federal city on July 16, 1792 to make his judgment. His review is recorded as being brief and he quickly selected the submission of James Hoban, an Irishman living in Charleston, South Carolina. The building Hoban designed is verifiably influenced by the first and second floors of Leinster House, a ducal palace in Dublin, Ireland, which is now the seat of the Irish Parliament. Construction began with the laying of the cornerstone on October 13, 1792. A diary kept by the District of Columbia building commissioner records that the footings for the main residence were dug by slaves. The foundations were also built by slave labor. The initial construction took place over a period of eight years, at a reported cost of $232,371.83 ($2.4 million in 2005 dollars). Although not yet completed, the White House was ready for occupancy on or about November 1, 1800.
Casa Rosada (Argentina)
La Casa Rosada (Spanish for “the Pink House”), is the official seat of the executive branch of the government of Argentina. The Casa Rosada was built at the eastern end of the Plaza de Mayo, a large square which since the founding of the city of Buenos Aires has contained the top political institutions of Argentina. The current building, however, dates back only to 1873 and was constructed over the foundations of an earlier customs house, post office, and fortress. Its balcony, which faces the square, has served as a podium for many figures, including Eva Perón, who rallied the descamisados from there, and Pope John Paul II, who visited Buenos Aires in 1998. Madonna sang her filmed rendition of the song “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” for the movie Evita, from the balcony after a meeting with the then President Carlos Menem.