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Some of the most beautiful historical buildings in the world are castles or palaces. When visiting other countries most likely you’ll come across these magnificent buildings.

Although the words are often being used interchangeably there is a difference between the two in their design and purpose.

Castles were built first and foremost to defend, but also to provide a home for the king. When they stopped being used for that purpose – to defend in the battles – many of them were renovated in the luxurious residences of the royalty.

Palace is a very large impressive house that is an official home of a king, queen, or president. Palaces are built solely for the purpose of providing luxurious homes to the kings and royalty, to show the rich possessions and wealth. The architectural style of the palace should give the building elegance and beautifully designed elements.

The world’s largest residential palace is the Istana Nurul Iman, near Bandar Seri Begawan, capital of Brunei. Official home of the Sultan of Brunei and the seat of the Brunei government. The largest imperial palce in the world is located in Beijing, China

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Castles were built out of stone without any decorations made of materials such as marble or gold as the palaces were. So castles have some parts and buildings structured for defense in case of attacks while palaces don’t include such constructions. Also, palaces were built all over the world way before castles became in use (somewhere before the 10th century).

Castle is a large building or group of buildings strengthen with defensive works to protect against attack. Castles were primarily built with defense in mind. Besides that they provided living quarters for the king their main role was to protect from enemies. The owner of the castle didn’t live in the castle permanently instead he would move from one property to another. When wars and battles were on, the owner and his family would move into the castle along with the soldiers and other people that worked for him. So, castles had private rooms for the owner and his family, bedrooms, kitchens, cabinets, storerooms etc. But they also had a Hall for receiving guests, room for prayer or Chapel, and gardens for example.

If you observe the buildings of the medieval castles you’ll notice that they have towers, from where people that worked in the castle could see the enemies, or other people approaching from far away. In the defense, towers played the main role. They were mainly built of stone and included battlements and arrow slits for defense. From those narrow vertical gaps in castle walls or arrow slits, archers fired arrows on enemy attackers. At the top of the castle’s main wall, you can also see defensive stone walls with gaps, or battlements, from where the defenders fired their arrows or stones on the attackers. They were built around the shoulders height to protect soldiers of the enemy attacks. There are of course also the gatehouses (fortifications) that were built to protect the main entrance to a castle and would usually include drawbridge. These kinds of bridges were built over a castle’s moat and when raised prevent people from crossing.

Castles were built strategically. They were positioned in a way that the enemy would have many difficulties when approaching. Like on top of the hill from where the attackers could be spotted more easily from far. If the land was flat, an artificial moat would be constructed. That’s why most often they were located near a river or lakes. They were only built in Europe and the Middle East.

When powerful weapons showed up in the world such as cannon and other weapons that used gunpowder, somewhere in the 15th-century, castles were no longer built. Simply their defensive role was weakened. When castles lost their main purpose as a defensive fortification from the enemy, they become residencies.