Be It Ever So Humble Freakishly-Massive…


Istana Nurul Iman Brunei Palace

They say home is wherever you hang your hat. If you are the Sultan of Brunei, your home has enough space to hang the hats of a sizeable percentage of the human race. 

Completed in 1984 at a cost of $1.4 billion USD, the Istana Nurul Iman (translated: Palace of the Light of Faith) is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest residential palace. It is located near Brunei’s capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan and is the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah.

With 2,152,782 square feet (200,000 square meters), the palace has floorspace equal to 49.4 acres. The palace has 17 floors, including basements and sub-basements. It has 1,788 rooms, including 257 bathrooms, a banquet hall that can hold 5,000 guests, a 110-car garage, 5 swimming pools, and air-conditioned stables for 200 polo ponies. It also has its own helipad. If you tour the palace, spending one minute in each room, it would take you nearly thirty hours of non-stop sightseeing to get through the experience.

In 2014 the Sultan was estimated to be worth about $20 billion USD. He has used his wealth to make his home worthy of its royal position in every respect. The palace is luxuriously decorated with works by world-renown artists, including a Renoir piece purchased by the Sultan for $70 million USD. The door handles are all made of solid gold.

How does the Istana Nurul Iman rank against other palaces? Using the Guinness World Record standard, to be considered as a royal palace, the building must have been constructed with the intent to use it as a royal residence, and only the combined area of the palace’s indoor floors is considered. Under that definition, Romania’s Palace of the Parliament does not qualify, although, at 3,928,827 square feet (365,000 square meters), it is a larger building. Similarly, although the Ak Saray in Turkey is approximately the same size as the Istana Nurul Iman, it doesn’t make the cut because it was built with the intention of making it the working office of the prime minister.

For those palaces that meet the Guinness World Record definition, this is how they stack up:

Palace name Location square footage number of rooms
Apostolic Palace Vatican City 1,743,753 over 1,000
Royal Palace of Madrid Madrid, Spain 1,450,000 3418
Falaknuma Palace Hyderabad, India 1,011,495 60 rooms and 22 halls
Buckingham Palace London, United Kingdom 830,000 775
Palace of Versailles Versailles, France 721,182 700
Royal Palace of Stockholm Stockholm, Sweden 658,859 1430
Windsor Castle Windsor, United Kingdom 590,239 about 1,000
Grand Kremlin Palace Moscow, Russia 259,410 over 700
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