Wednesday, October 5, 2011

✈Worldwide Wednesdays: Presidential Palaces Around the World

Where shall we travel to today?....

Presidential Palaces Around the World

A Presidential Palace is the official residence of the president in some countries. However, some countries do not call the official residence of a head of state a presidential palace. Some of the presidential palaces were once the official residences to monarchs in countries that were monarchies that have now become republics.

Kremlin, RUSSIA

Moscow, Kremlin. Bird's Eye View from the southwest

The Moscow Kremlin (Russian: Московский Кремль, Moskovskiy Kreml), sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River (to the south), Saint Basil's Cathedral 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 complex serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation.

View of the Kremlin, Moscow, 1992
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The name The Kremlin is often used as a metonym to refer to the government of the Soviet Union (1922–1991) and its highest members (such as general secretaries, premiers, presidents, ministers, and commissars), in the same way that the metonym Quai d'Orsay refers to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the White House refers to the Executive Office of the President of the United States and Number 10 Downing Street (or simply Number 10) refers to the Office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It is still used in reference to the government of the Russian Federation and even the Russian President's official website is Kremlin.Ru. "Kremlinology" referred to the study of Soviet and Russian policies

Moscow, Kremlin. Bird's Eye View from the East.
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The existing Kremlin walls and towers were built by Italian masters over the years 1485 to 1495. The irregular triangle of the Kremlin wall encloses an area of 275,000 square metres (68 acres). Its overall length is 2235 metres (2444 yards), but the height ranges from 5 to 19 metres, depending on the terrain. The wall's thickness is between 3.5 and 6.5 metres.


Palac Prezydencki, POLAND

The palace of Koniecpolski family in Warszawa. Today the office and residence of the Poland's president. Photograph in July 2006
by Henryk Kotowski.

The Presidential Palace (in Polish, Pałac Prezydencki; also known as Pałac Koniecpolskich, Lubomirskich, Radziwiłłów, and Pałac Namiestnikowski) in Warsaw, Poland, is the elegant classicist latest version of a building that has stood on the Krakowskie Przedmieście 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 the Constitution of May 3, 1791, of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which historian Norman Davies calls "the first constitution of its kind in Europe.

Wieczorna iluminacja Pałacu Prezydenckiego w Warszawie
Evening illumination of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw
Photo by wiki user Cezary p

An equestrian statue of Prince Józef Poniatowski (a Polish leader, general, minister of war and army chief, who became a Marshal of France), stands in the courtyard.  It was commissioned in 1816 and was created by sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, modelled after the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome.  It was sponsored by Polish aristocracy and executed between 1826 and 1832.  It was not put in place on account of the tsar's opposition and stood in Ivan Paskevich's manor of Gomel (Eastern Belarus) from 1842 to 1922.

After the Soviet-Polish War, the statue of Prince Józef was brought back to Warsaw. It stood before the Polish General Staff building (the Saxon Palace) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier within the Palace. Though the statue was destroyed in World War II. It was deliberately and completely destroyed by the Germans in 1944 (blew up on December 16). The statue was reconstructed between 1948-51 and recast in 1965 from the original mold by Paul Lauritz Rasmussen (financed by Danish people).


Grassalkovich Palace, SLOVAKIA

The Grassalkovich Palace
Photo by wiki user Paulrudd

The Grassalkovich Palace (Slovak: Grasalkovičov palác) is a palace in Bratislava and the residence of the president of Slovakia. It is situated on Hodžovo námestie, near 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 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.

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The building became a center of Baroque musical life in Pozsony/Pressburg. Joseph Haydn premiered some of his works here. Count Grassalkovich also had his orchestra and his "colleague", Prince Esterházy, used to "lend" him his favorite conductor, Haydn. Grassalkovich was Maria Theresa's vassal, so the palace was used for various balls and parties of the Habsburg royal court. For example, it was Haydn who conducted the orchestra when Maria Theresa's daughter married Albert of Sachsen-Teschen, then governor of the Kingdom of Hungary (see Bratislava Castle). Ľudovít Štúr is said to have declared his love to Adela Ostrolúcka for the first time during a ball organized by archduke Stephen Francis Victor (Buda 14 September 1817 – Menton 19 February 1867), son of the Palatine, Joseph. The last owners of the palace before the end of Austria-Hungary were archduke Frederick of Teschen with his wife Isabella of Croy-Dülmen.

After its reconstruction in the early 1990s, on 30 September 1996 the palace became the residence of Slovakia's president. Its once-large gardens are now a public park, complete with a statue of Bratislava-born composer Jan Nepomuk Hummel.


Rashtrapati Bhavan, INDIA

Main Gate of the President's house
Photo by wiki user Dcastor

The Rashtrapati Bhavan (Sanskrit for Presidential House/Palace) or The Official Residence of the Head of the State is the official residence of the President of India, located at Raisina hill in New Delhi, India. Until 1950 it was known as "Viceroy's House" and served as the residence of the Viceroy and Governor-General of India. It is amidst an area known as Lutyens' Delhi.

At present, it is the largest residence of any Chief of the State in the world.   The construction of the building was planned for 4 years, but World War I intervened and construction required 19 years to complete. Its first occupant, Lord Irwin, began occupation on January 23, 1931.

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The Rashtrapati Bhavan is a large and vast mansion with four floors and has 360 rooms. It is built on a floor area of 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2). Various Indian designs were added to the building. These included several circular stone basins on the top of the palace, as water features are an important part of Indian architecture.

The plan of the palace is designed around a massive square although there are many courtyards and open inner areas within. There are separate wings for the Viceroy, and another wing for guests. The Viceroy's wing is a separate four-storey house in itself, with its own court areas within. The wing was so large that the first president of India decided not to stay there, staying in the guest wing, a tradition which was adopted by subsequent presidents.

Going up to Rashtrapati Bhavan
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The dome in the middle involved a mixture of Indian and British styles. In the centre was a tall copper dome surmounted on top of a drum, which stands out from the rest of the building, due to its height. The dome is exactly in the middle of the diagonals between the four corners of the building. The dome is more than twice the height of the rest of the building.
The height of the dome was increased by Lord Hardinge in the plan of the building in 1913. The dome combines classical and Indian styles. Lutyens said the design evolved from that of the Pantheon in Rome, while it is also possible that it was modeled partly after the great Stupa at Sanchi. A porch is around the dome with evenly spaced columns which support the dome, with an open area between the columns. Because this goes the whole way round, it makes the dome appear from any angle that it is floating as seen in the heat haze of Delhi. The reinforced concrete shell of the outer dome began to be formed at the beginning of 1929. The last stone of the dome was laid on April 6, 1929.

The main entrance to Rashtrapati Bhavan is known as Gate 35, and is located on Prakash Vir Shastri Avenue, renamed from North Avenue in November 2002, as a memorial to the politician Prakash Vir Shastri (1923-1977), who served here during his tenure as a Member of Parliament for the state of Uttar Pradesh.


Schloss Bellevue , GERMANY

Photo by wiki user Jazz-face

Schloss Bellevue is the official residence of the President of Germany since 1994. The palace in the central Tiergarten district of Berlin is situated on the northern edge of the Großer Tiergarten park, on the banks of the Spree river, near the Berlin Victory Column. Its name ("beautiful view" in French) derives from the scenic prospect over the river course.

The Bellevue Palace is the traditional home of the German president, a ceremonial position not to be confused with the chancellor, who holds the country's executive power. Bellevue was built in 1786
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Schloss Bellevue was erected in 1786 as a summer residence for Prince Augustus Ferdinand of Prussia, the younger brother of King Frederick II, according to plans by architect Michael Philipp Boumann on the site of a manor built in 1743 by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. It then was the first Neoclassical building in Germany, characterized by its Corinthian pilasters, with wings on either side ("Ladies' wing" and "Spree wing"). The upper floor features a ball room designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans. The palace is surrounded by a park covering about 20 hectares. In 1843 Bellevue was acquired by King Frederick William IV of Prussia and in 1865 became the residence of his niece Princess Alexandrine after her marriage with William of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. It served the royal and imperial princes of the Hohenzollern dynasty until the German Revolution of 1918.

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A property of the Free State of Prussia since 1928, the building in the mid-1930s was used as a museum of ethnography, before being renovated as a guest house for the Nazi government in 1938. During World War II it was severely damaged by strategic bombing and the 1945 Battle of Berlin, whereafter it was refurbished substantially in the 1950s. Inaugurated by President Theodor Heuss in 1959, it served as the secondary residence of the West German president, a pied à terre in West Berlin to supplement his primary residence at the Hammerschmidt Villa in Bonn. The palace was refurbished again in 1986-87, and after German reunification President Richard von Weizsäcker moved his primary residence to it in 1994. A modern annex was erected at the southern wing in 1998 to host the offices of the affiliated Bundespräsidialamt federal agency.

President Roman Herzog remained the only office holder, who actually lived at Bellevue during his incumbency 1994-1999. The palace was reconstructed again in 2004-05 to remedy defects in earlier renovations. President Horst Köhler used nearby Charlottenburg Palace for representative purposes during this period. Bellevue became the president's primary official seat again in January 2006, but since this reconstruction has not included living quarters. The Federal President lives in a government-owned villa in the suburban Dahlem district of southwestern Berlin.

Contrary to popular belief, the presidential standard is flown on top of the palace even on many days when the President is not in Berlin. It is lowered only when the President takes up official residence elsewhere - e.g. on the occasion of a state visit, when the standard is raised over his temporary residence abroad, or when he uses his second residence at Villa Hammerschmidt. If he is just on vacation, Schloss Bellevue remains his official residence and the standard is flown over it.


Palazzo del Quirinale,  ITALY

The Quirinal Palace housed popes, then kings, and now the Presidents of the Italian Republic.
Photo by wiki user MM

The Quirinal Palace (known in Italian as the Palazzo del Quirinale or simply Quirinale) is a historical building in Rome, Italy, the current official residence of the President of the Italian Republic. It is located on the Quirinal Hill, the tallest of the seven hills of Rome. It housed thirty popes, four kings and eleven presidents of the Italian Republic.

The current site of the palace has been in use since Roman times, as excavations in the gardens testify. On this hill that the Romans built temples to several deities, from the Flora to Quirinus, after whom the hill was named. During the reign of Constantine the last complex of Roman baths was built here, as the statues of the twins Castor and Pollux taming the horses decorating the fountain in the square testify. The Quirinal, being the highest hill in Rome, was very sought after and became a popular spot for the Roman patricians, who built their luxurious villas. An example of those are the remains of a villa in the Quirinal gardens, where a mosaic, part of the old floor has been found.

Panoramic view of the Piazza del Quirinale with the palace on the left side.
Photo by wiki user Grenouille vert

The palace, located on the Via del Quirinale and facing onto the Piazza del Quirinale, was built in 1583 by Pope Gregory XIII as a papal summer residence. The pope wanted to find a location which would have been far away from the humidity and stench coming from the river Tiber and the unhealthy conditions of the Lateran, therefore the Quirinal hill was one of the most suitable places in Rome. On the site there was already a small villa owned by the Carafa family and rented to Luigi d'Este. The pope commissioned to the architect Ottaviano Mascherino the building of a palace with porticoed parallel wings and an internal court. The project was not fully executed, due to the death of the pope in 1585 but it's still recognisable in the north part of the court, especially in the double loggia facade, topped by the panoramic Torre dei venti (tower of the winds) or Torrino. To the latter a bell tower was added according to a project by Carlo Maderno and Francesco Borromini.


The White House, USA

South facade of the White House, the executive mansion of the President of the United States, located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C
Photo by wiki user UpstateNYer

The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical style. It has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he (with architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe) expanded the building outward, creating two colonnades that were meant to conceal stables and storage.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion was set ablaze by the British Army in the Burning of Washington, destroying the interior and charring much of the exterior. Reconstruction began almost immediately, and President James Monroe moved into the partially reconstructed house in October 1817.

The White House with Marine One the Aircraft carrying the President of the United States - Washington DC
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Today, the White House Complex includes the Executive Residence, West Wing, Cabinet Room, Roosevelt Room, East Wing, and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses the executive offices of the President and Vice President.

The White House is made up of six stories—the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, and Third Floor, as well as a two-story basement. The term White House is regularly used as a metonym for the Executive Office of the President of the United States and for the president's administration and advisers in general. The property is a National Heritage Site owned by the National Park Service and is part of the President's Park. In 2007, it was ranked second on the American Institute of Architects list of "America's Favorite Architecture".

The White House and surrounding grounds
Photo by wiki user Dschwen

Like the English and Irish country houses it was modeled on, the White House was, from the start, open to the public until the early part of the 20th century. President Thomas Jefferson held an open house for his second inaugural in 1805, and many of the people at his swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol followed him home, where he greeted them in the Blue Room. Those open houses sometimes became rowdy: in 1829, President Andrew Jackson had to leave for a hotel when roughly 20,000 citizens celebrated his inauguration inside the White House. His aides ultimately had to lure the mob outside with washtubs filled with a potent cocktail of orange juice and whiskey. Even so, the practice continued until 1885, when newly elected Grover Cleveland arranged for a presidential review of the troops from a grandstand in front of the White House instead of the traditional open house. Jefferson also permitted public tours of his house, which have continued ever since, except during wartime, and began the tradition of annual receptions on New Year's Day and on the Fourth of July. Those receptions ended in the early 1930s, although President Bill Clinton would briefly revive the New Year's Day open house in his first term.


Presidential Mansion, GREECE

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The Presidential Mansion in Athens, Greece, is the official residence of the President of the Hellenic Republic. It previously served as the Royal Palace, until the abolition of the monarchy by referendum in 1974.

The decision to construct the building which is used today as the Presidential Mansion was taken in 1868. That year, King George I's son, Constantine, the heir to the throne, was born and the Greek state decided to present him with a private dwelling, when he came of age. Twenty one years later when Constantine married princess Sophia of Prussia, the state assigned the planning of "The Crown Prince's Palace", as the building became known, to Ernst Ziller. Building began in 1891 and was completed six years later in 1897.

On Christmas Eve 1909 a fire destroyed a large part of the Royal Palace (today used by the parliament), with the result that the Crown Prince's Palace was used temporarily as the residence of the royal family. After the assassination of George I in 1913 and the accession of Constantine to the throne, the Crown Prince's Palace finally became the royal residence.

The garden of the Presidential Mansion. Athens, Greece
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The use of the building as a Palace was interrupted in 1924 when the monarchy was overthrown and a Republic was declared. It was then used as the Presidential Mansion until 1935 when the monarchy was restored and the King returned. Since 1974, when democracy was restored after a seven year military dictatorship, the building has been used as the Presidential Mansion and the residence of the President of the day.

In modern times, with the city of Athens extending over many square miles, the Presidential Mansion is located in the centre of the capital next to the National Garden and Parliament. Herodou Attikou Street, where the Mansion is located, is not only one of the most beautiful roads in the city, it is also bound to the political and social life of Greece, as also situated there is the Maximos Mansion where the Prime Minister of the day has his office. The Presidential Mansion with its garden takes up a total area of about 27,000 square metres (about 7 acres). The official entrance to the Mansion is on Herodou Attikou Street.

The garden of the Presidential Mansion. Athens, Greece
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The garden of the Presidential Mansion occupies an area of about 25,000 square metres (just over 6 acres) and constitutes a green heaven in the centre of Athens. In the middle of the nineteenth century, this area, because of its especially fertile soil, was in fact the vegetable garden of the Royal Palace (now Parliament building).
After the erection of the mansion in 1897 and the construction of Herodou Attikou Street, the area which surrounded the Crown Prince's Palace was fashioned into a large ornamental garden. The planning of this appears to have been assigned to Ziller's technical office. The selection of suitable plants, though, must have been entrusted to a Greek specialist, since most of the trees are native to Greece.

From the very beginning the garden was divided into two large sections because of the slope of the land. The building is situated in the upper section.
The design of the garden in front of the building was similar to that of other neo-classical structures of the period (the Academy, the University and the National Library). The garden follows a relatively rigid geometric plan of the French type, with symmetrical beds of grass and seasonal flowering plants. The formalism of the composition approaching Herod Atticus Road is alleviated by the perennial plane trees, lindens, palms and cypress trees.


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