A look at the world's largest royal castles

SINGAPORE - Castles and palaces are of such grandeur that it has long fascinated people around the world, and are also popular tourist destinations.

UK's Nationwide Building Society revealed in 2012 that Buckingham Palace is the world's most expensive private residence at an estimated 1 billion pounds (S$2.1 billion). However, which royal complex is considered the largest in size?

Travel and news site Touropia set out to rank the castles of the world, but realised it was no easy feat. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle in the Czech Republic is the biggest ancient castle complex while Wikipedia described Windsor Castle in England as the largest inhabited castle.

Touropia first shortlisted the royal residences which best fits the definition of being "a defensive structure built as a residence for a ruler or nobleman". Next, Touropia referenced the analysis done by Marek Prokop, blog author of Czech-castles, who did a measure of the royal compounds using Google Maps and an KML Area Calculator.

With this method, Touropia sifted out the world's 10 largest royal residences from Middle East to Europe.

One of the castles featured in Touropia's list is the Mehrangarh Fort in India, covering a land area of 81,227 sq metres. Ranked as the second most largest royal compound, the Mehrangarh Fort sits four hundred feet above the skyline of the Indian city of Jodhpur.

The majestic complex, which was built by ruler Roa Jodha, has been described as one of the largest forts in India and English novelist Rudyard Kipling even called it the "work of giants". The fort is situated on top of a 122-metre high hill, and each wall is around 21 metres wide. To enter the compound, one has to cross seven gates.

Prague Castle has been ranked as the world's largest ancient castle by the Guinness Book of Records. The castle in Czech Republic dates back the ninth century, reported Touropia, and encompasses buildings such as the St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George's Basilica and even a museum.

Today, Prague Castle is the official residence and office of the Czech president, but throughout history, kings of Bohemia and Holy Roman emperors lived and ruled from this fort complex. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are also housed in the castle.

wjeanne@sph.com.sg