What's the Difference Between a Castle and a Palace?

As a girl, I was never into princesses; I was more of the type to watch monster-truck videos with my brother and read almanacs for fun. However, as an adult, I find there’s something rather aspirational about the royal lifestyle, or at least the royal lifestyle of years’ past; who wouldn’t want to sit around eating teacakes and playing whist all day? I hereby present to you the differences between a castle and a palace—because if we can’t live like royals ourselves, we may as well know the terminology.

castle is a large, fortified residence or group of buildings with strong walls to defend against attacks. In their heyday, they were inhabited by a royal or noble and used as a seat from which to control the surrounding area. Castles oftentimes have moats, peep-holes in the walls from which to shoot arrows, and other defense-centric architectural touches. They were first built by royalty during the Middle Ages throughout Europe and the Middle East, and served as fortresses to guard whoever was doing the ruling.

palace, on the other hand, is designed simply for elegance, lavishness, and luxury. No fortified walls, no moats, no cannons—they’ve more of the gilded-chic vibe. Palaces were/are lived in by royalty, heads of state, or heads of a church, and are usually surrounded by lush, landscaped gardens. The first palaces were built on Palatine Hill in Rome, which is actually where the name “palace” comes from.

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