The lavish lifestyles of royal families are symbolized through the palaces they called home. Across the globe, palaces have been built to establish the ruling party’s influence over a region, though many are ruined today.
Two famous examples of ruling party’s lavish palaces are the Palace of Versailles in France and Buckingham Palace in England. The palaces have maintained their grandeur through centuries of maintenance, rehabilitation, and security.
But what about the palaces that were not as fortunate?
What about the ruined palaces that were just as majestic?
Budget Direct’s project to restore 7 ruined palaces
Budget Direct has once again partnered with Kulture Hub to reconstruct 7 ruined palaces from across the world. Similar to the reconstruction of the 6 lost Asian castles feature, Budget Direct has commissioned a team of architects and graphic designers for this project.
Exploring history’s most opulent residences is a luxurious trip back in time. Think Airbnb meets a time machine meets MTV Cribs. So tap in below for 7 ruined palaces digitally reconstructed from around the world.
Ruzhany Palace, Belarus
Location: Ruzhany, Belarus
The Sapieha family built Ruzhany Palace in the 1770s over the site of their earlier castle. The noble family was power-brokers of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Aleksander Michal Sapieha, the nobleman of the family, employed architect Jan Samuel Beckor of Saxony (German state). Sapieha and Beckor then worked together to establish Ruzhany’s famed theatre that employed 100 performers. The palace also possessed a famous library and picture collection.
In 1831, the Pines family leased the palace as a textile factory, bringing wealth to the local Jewish community. Ruzhany’s palace, the Jewish community, and political independence all came to a violent end during World War II.
Today, the region is controlled by Belarus which has begun restoring Ruzhany to its former glory.
Dungur Palace / “Palace of the Queen of Sheba,” Ethiopia
Location: Aksum, Ethiopia
Year: 6th century
Dungur Palace, also known as Queens of Sheba’s Palace, is located Ethiopian village of Aksum. The former bustling capital of an African empire (the Kingdom of Aksum) spanned from southern Egypt to Yemen.
The 6th-century palace houses over a 50 room layout that includes a bathing area, kitchen, and even also a possible throne room. Little is known about the history of the building itself though.
During an excavation, a discovery revealed carvings of a “beautiful woman”. This has fueled hope that the remains of the queen’s real residence may hide beneath Dungur.
Knossos Palace, Greece
Location: Knossos, Crete
Year: Circa 1700 BC
Constructed circa 1700 BC, Knossos is the oldest palace on this list by over three millennia. Knossos Palace sits on what is considered to be the oldest city in Europe, Crete. The palace served as a center for politics, economics, and also religion for the mysterious Minoan civilization.
The courtyard was located in the center of the palace and provided access to luxurious amenities. This included the throne room, a central palace sanctuary, and also a residential quarter.
Knossos survived invasions, fires, and earthquakes before being destroyed circa 1375 BC. Modern-day scholars have confirmed that the group who occupied Knossos after the Minoans were called the Mycenaeans.
Sans Souci, Haiti
Location: Near Milot, Haiti
The principal royal residence of King Henry I is a “carefree” place amid the luscious mountains of northern Haiti. Better known as the Revolutionary general, Henry Christophe, led the Haitian Revolution that won independence from France. He then promptly declared himself king over northern Haiti in 1811.
The palace housed the king, the queen (Queen Marie-Louise), their family, advisors, and also royal staff. San Souci thus serves as an icon of Haiti’s independence and national identity. The grandeur of this palace is so majestic that it is called the ‘Versailles of the Caribbean.’
Unfortunately, a powerful earthquake in 1842 destroyed the majority of the palace and then was never rebuilt.
Qal’eh Dokhtar, Iran
Location: Fizurabad, Iran
Year: Before 224 AD
Ardašīr I and his cohort built this “barrier fortress” during his 3rd century founding of the Sasanian Empire in Iran. The fortress sits on a mountain slope near Firouzabad-Kavar road in Fars Province – also known as the southwest of Iran.
This third-century fortress housed his royal residence on the third floor but was eventually replaced by a greater palace he built nearby (Palace of Ardashir). Qal’eh Dokhtar fortification technically classifies it as a castle, not a palace. However, with architectural elements that project such grandeur, who cares what it’s classified as?
Qal’eh Dokhtar boasts perhaps the earliest example of an Iranian chartaq—a square of four arches supporting a dome.
This nearly 1,800-year-old castle has thus endured the test of time. Experts suggest that if urgent maintenance measures must be enforced or the castle may soon crumble.
Husuni Kubwa, Tanzania
Location: Kilwa Tanzania
Year: 14th Century
This palace is a ruined structure on the island of Kilwa Kisiwana in Tanzania. The Palace of Husuni Kubwa is also known as the “Great Fort”.
Kilwa Kisiwani was one of the most important sultanates in the “Swahili Coast’ trade network. It linked East Africa to the Arabic world. Gold and ivory passed out of its ports, while Chinese silk and porcelain flowed in for over 300 years. Sultan al-Hasan ibn Sulaiman commissioned the palace to be built on this crucial crossroad.
Husuni Kubwa was built from coral stone that overlooked the Indian Ocean. There were three major sections of the palace: a commerce court in the south, a residential complex that housed over 100 rooms, and then a grand stairway leading to a mosque on the beach.
Husuni Kubwa was occupied for a short time before being abandoned.
Clarendon Palace, UK
Location: Wiltshire, UK
Year: 12th century
This palace was a royal residence for kings Henry II and Henry III respectively. During the Middle Ages, this palace was the site for Assize of Clarendon.
This was the 1164 act of King Henry II that put into motion trials by jury, a common law that is the foundation for countries worldwide. This act also produced a set of legislative guidelines known as the Constitutions of Clarendon.
Henry III also expanded the palace, commissioning a carved fireplace and stained glass chapel. By the 1400s, Clarendon was then an expansive royal complex. It remained a favorite retreat of monarchs until the Tudor era, when the high cost of upkeep resulted in its rapid decline. Today, only a single wall remains above ground.
The importance of Budget Direct’s reconstruction of ruined palaces
Digital creativity is truly a mesmerizing trait. A digital link to the past via GIFs is also a medium for historical architectural experiences today. What could it possibly look like in the future?
Perhaps an AR/VR tour of historical wonders is also in the works somewhere out there.
As the world opens up slowly, but surely, those fortunate to travel now have royal options for their adventures.