Difference Between Castle and Palace

Main Difference – Castle vs Palace

There are many beautiful castles and palaces in the world, built according to various architectural designs, but there is a significant difference between castle and palace based on their structure and purpose. The main difference between these two buildings is, a castle is built primarily for the aim of protection against enemies while a palace is built to exhibit the power and wealth of the owner.

What is a Castle

A castle is generally considered as a fortified residence of noblemen or royalty. The term castle descends from the Latin word “castellum” meaning ‘fortified place.’ As the word’s origins suggest, the primary purpose of a castle is providing protection against enemies. Castles were both offensive and defensive structures; they acted as a base from which an attack could be planned as well as a center for protection from enemy armies. Therefore, architectural features like moats, baileys, keeps, curtain walls, gatehouses, battlements, high walls, round towers and ramparts can be seen in many castles.

This architectural structure first came to usage during the 9th and 10th centuries (Middle Ages) in Europe and the Middle East. The first proper castles were built in England after the Norman Conquest in 1066. However, with the invention of gunpowder, castles no longer acted  as effective forms of defense. Castles also provided an administrative purpose, apart from military and domestic purpose. They served as an administrative center, controlling the feudal society.

difference between castle and palaceWhat is  a Palace

A palace is a large and impressive building that serves as the residence of royalty or nobility. A palace is built with concepts like luxury, elegance, comfort etc. in mind. The word ‘palace’ is derived from the Latin name ‘Palātium’ referring to the hill which housed the imperial residences in Rome. Unlike a castle, a palace is an architectural structure that can be seen throughout the history. Royal residences of Egyptian Pharaohs at Thebes are considered as the earliest known palaces.

However, many historical palaces are now used for other purposes. Many palaces are used as hotels, museums, parliaments, office buildings etc. Buckingham Palace, The Palace of Versailles, Royal Palace of Madrid, Stockholm Palace, The Forbidden City, The Royal Palace of Caserta, The Winter Palace, The Louvre are some examples of the famous palaces in the history.

palace vs castle

Difference Between Castle and Palace

Though both castles and palaces are built as residences for the nobility, the most significant difference between castle and palace lies in their purpose. A castle is built for protection while a palace is built to showcase owner’s wealth and power. Since a castle is built for protection, some common architectural features like moats, battlements, keeps, curtain walls etc. can be seen in many castles. However, we cannot see such commonalities in palaces, since they are built to tailor to the taste of  the owner. Another difference that can be observed is that castles were made out of materials like stones, bricks, and timber while palaces use more elaborate materials like marbles, gold, bronze etc. In addition, Castles were first constructed in middle ages whereas palaces have a longer history.

Difference Between Castle and Palace - infographic


About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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