The Official Residences of World Leaders That You Can Visit

From Great Britain’s 10 Downing Street to South Korea’s Blue House, the private residences of world leaders are all unique in their own way. Some are gargantuan palaces, while others are traditional castles, sprawling mansions, or luxury townhouses. Each one displays its own architectural identity and significant historical importance. So where do the world’s presidents and prime ministers retire after a day of running their respective countries? Here, a list of 10 amazing addresses, which are also the official residences of powerful leaders around the world.

Élysée Palace in Paris, France

Photo courtesy of Paul Beattie via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Paul Beattie via Flickr

One of the most opulent residences to house a world leader, the Élysée Palace in Paris, France is a beautiful example of classical architecture. Given its gilded interiors, which are outfitted in gold, velvet curtains, and fine art, it’s no surprise that some former French socialist presidents have chosen to shun the palace for more modest living arrangements. Built in 1722 and home to French presidents since the 1840s, the Élysée Palace is located in the center of Paris, close to the Champs-Élysées. If you want some immediate office envy, check out the Salon Doré (Golden Room) where the French prime minister carries out day-to-day work surrounded by lavish gold walls. 

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Blue House in Seoul, South Korea

Photo courtesy of Jirka Matousek via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Jirka Matousek via Flickr

The Blue House, the official residence of the South Korean head of state, boasts a whopping 150,000 blue granite tiles on its roof. One of the few executive residences open to the public, visitors can explore parts of the 62-acre complex in Seoul, which features some beautifully manicured gardens. In 1968, 31 North Korean commandos stormed the palace’s grounds, in an attempt to assassinate the then-president. The mission was unsuccessful.

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The White House in Washington D.C., United States

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr

While Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is getting plenty of attention (it’s even touted as the winter White House), it’s not going to be easy to usurp the famous 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue address in Washington, D.C. The White House is more than 200 years old (building began in October 1792), and while George Washington oversaw the construction, he never had a chance to take over the Oval Office. Outside, the portico columns and whitewashing echo the strong Greek Revival influences, but inside, the style depends on who’s in power. When presidents take office, they don’t just come to the White House with their family, but they also bring their own interior design ideas (it could be home for eight years, after all). However, decorating is not anything new in the White House, which was set ablaze by the British in 1814, destroying its original interior. 

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White Palace in Ankara, Turkey

One of the newest residences (and most garish displays of wealth and power) on this list, the White Palace in Ankara, Turkey is a monument to the country’s future. Costing a cool $615 million to build, the Presidential Complex was completed in 2014. The palace extends four stories underground and features over 1,000 rooms. 

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La Casa Rosada in Bueno Aires, Argentina

Photo courtesy of Guilherme Boettcher via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Guilherme Boettcher via Flickr

Like many residences of world leaders, Argentina’s La Casa Rosada (or the Pink House) is nestled in the heart of its capital city, Buenos Aires. The president’s palace, which sits on the eastern side of the Plaza de Mayo (a public square and major tourist attraction), also feels somewhat more attainable for visitors and locals than other similar residences. Its pinkish hue is said to derive from when white paint was mixed with cow’s blood to prevent damage from humidity.

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10 Downing Street in London, England

Photo courtesy of robertsharp via Flickr

Photo courtesy of robertsharp via Flickr

Number 10 Downing Street has been the official residence of the British prime minister since 1735, though the first records of a building on the site were of the Axe brewery owned by the Abbey of Abingdon in the Middle Ages. Located in the heart of Westminster, London, 10 Downing Street doesn’t look like much from its facade. However, behind that famous black door, the home spreads out across classic checkered floors and takes over two neighboring properties. One important factor to consider for any new prime minister is the appointment of their Chancellor of the Exchequer, partially since they’ll be living next-door at Number 11 Downing Street. The prime minister also has a corridor running from Number 10 through Number 11 and into Number 12.

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Palácio da Alvorada in Brasilia, Brazil

Photo courtesy of seier+seier via Flickr

Photo courtesy of seier+seier via Flickr

Rejecting the grandeur of the White House, the history of Downing Street, and the opulence of the Élysée Palace, Brazil’s Palácio da Alvorada in the capital Brasília is a modernist masterpiece. Designed by world famous architect Oscar Niemeyer, the official residence of the president of Brazil was built in 1957 and is very stylish. The name Palácio da Alvorada means Palace of Dawn, and comes from a quote that is attributed to Juscelino Kubitschek, the building’s original inhabitant. In addition to meeting rooms, libraries, and banquet rooms, the building houses a movie theater, helipad, game rooms, and a private chapel. 

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Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan

Photo courtesy of Golo via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Golo via Flickr

Located on the site of the former Edo Castle where the Tokugawa shogun ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867, Tokyo’s Imperial Palace has been home to the current ruling family since 1888. Destroyed during World War II, the palace was rebuilt in an identical traditional style. The grounds are surrounded by a lush landscape, parkland, and a vast moat. Guests can also visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens with guided tours throughout the year. Currently home to Emperor Akihito and family, the residence contains plenty of Western-style furniture and design elements inside, but generally remains a reflection of the traditional Meiji era on the outside.   

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Vaduz Castle in Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Photo courtesy of Clemens v. Vogelsang via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Clemens v. Vogelsang via Flickr

Liechtenstein may be a tiny country that you might have a time time locating on a map, but it knows how to accommodate its leaders. In Lichtenstein, it’s all about the classic, medieval castle. Perched on a hillside overlooking vistas of rugged alpine terrain, Vaduz Castle is home to Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein. Built in the 12th century, the castle is off limits to the public, since the ruling royal family still uses it as their primary home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t snap pics from afar.

24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Canada

Photo courtesy of sookie via Flickr

Photo courtesy of sookie via Flickr

24 Sussex Drive, the official residence of Canada’s prime minister, has its own rustic charm. And when we say rustic, we mean rustic, since the Ottawa mansion is in desperate need of renovations. Still, the refined Norman Revival structure has a lot going for it. It’s smart, understated, and classic in a country house sort of way. Fun fact: While Justin Trudeau spent a period of his childhood at 24 Sussex Drive when his father served as prime minister, he rejected the chance to revisit his youth, and instead chose to live in the nearby Rideau Cottage. 

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