Where political leaders around the world live, in photos
Great Britain’s 10 Downing Street was originally a cheaply built townhouse. The German Chancellery is deliberately open, sending a message of transparency. The Kremlin was a medieval fortress, while Iceland’s official residence was built on land first settled around the year 1000.
Here are some of the places political leaders live and work, some of them impressive palaces, others more modest abodes, all reflecting aspects of their country’s history.
Many were once the homes of colonial rulers, palaces built in South and Central America to house governors from Spain, or the Netherlands, or Áras an Uachtaráin in Ireland where British viceroys lived.
Italy’s Chigi Palace had connections to Pope Alexander VII, while Lebanon’s residence is one of the last Ottoman structures in the country. The Chilean president Salvador Allende shot himself in that country’s palace during a major coup. Other leaders were overthrown, but refused to leave their homes until they were forced out.
Canada’s Justin Trudeau declined to move his family into the official residence because it was so poorly maintained. Other leaders for political reasons eschew the grandeur of palaces or villas to live more simply. For example, the current Mexican president opened up Los Pinos, or The Pines, to the public and decided to live elsewhere.
Some residences are tightly guarded, but other leaders invite the public inside—on holidays or even on a weekly basis—and have turned some part of the buildings into museums celebrating the country’s history or culture. In the United States, the presidential residence is the White House in Washington D.C. The site was selected by George Washington, the first president. President John Adams moved into the house in 1800, and it was rebuilt after the British set fire to it in 1814 during the War of 1812.
If you’ve ever wondered where heads of state and other political leaders live, take a look at these slides from around the world, in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Stacker compiled the list from government documents and news articles.
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Boris Johnson: 10 Downing Street
The London townhouse has been used as an official residence of the British prime minister since 1735. Built by George Downing, a diplomat who served at The Hague and whom the official British website describes as a miserly and at times brutal man, the house and its neighboring residences originally were cheaply built terraced houses. It was reborn as a regal residence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, gutted and rebuilt in the 1950s, and renovated again in the 2000s.
Angela Merkel: Bundeskanzleramt
The German Chancellery, which opened in 2001 near the Reichstag in Berlin, is home to government offices and the official residence for the chancellor on the top floor. It stands on the banks of the River Spree where East and West Berlin meet. With its open architecture, it is meant to be a symbol of transparency.
Giuseppe Conte: Chigi Palace
Construction of Chigi Palace in Rome began in the mid-16th century and was sold to the Chigi family of Pope Alexander VII in 1659. It overlooks the 2,000-year-old Column of Marcus Aurelius. Once the home of papal Roman families, it has been the residence of Italy’s prime minister since 1961.
King Willem-Alexander: Huis ten Bosch Palace
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands lives in Huis ten Bosch Palace in the Hague with his wife, Queen Maxima, and their three daughters. The palace is a royal residence and also is used for receptions and meetings. It is one of three royal palaces. Noordeinde Palace, also in the Hague, is where the king has his offices.
Pedro Sanchez: Moncloa Palace
The palace in Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish prime minister, and it is where the Council of Ministers meet. Pedro Sanchez has been prime minister since 2018, when he opened the palace to the general public for tours. Designed by architect Diego Mendez, it was built between 1949 and 1954 on the site of a former palace destroyed during the Civil War.
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Katerina Sakellaropoulou: Presidential Mansion
Katerina Sakellaropoulou, a judge and human rights activist, became the first woman to be chosen the president of Greece in 2020. Her official residence is in the heart of Athens, next to the Hellenic Parliament. It was constructed in 1897 as a palace for the crown prince, later became the official residence of the royal family, and began to be used as the presidential mansion in 1974.
Michael Higgins: Áras an Uachtaráin
The official residence of the president of Ireland was built in 1751 in Dublin and later was bought for the viceroys in charge of British rule over Ireland. A wing was added in 1849 for a visit of Queen Victoria. It is open to the public every Saturday.
Nicola Sturgeon: Bute House
Bute House on Charlotte Square in Edinburgh, originally the home of the Bute family, is the official residence of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish global organization for human rights, raised questions in 2008 about whether a decorative chandelier that hangs in the house had been looted from Germany during World War II. The Scotish government reached no conclusion.
Vladimir Putin: The Kremlin
The official residence of Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin was originally a medieval fortress, later home to the Russian tsars until the capital was moved to St. Petersburg at the start of the 18th century. The government returned to the Kremlin in 1918. It overlooks Red Square and the Moskva River. Putin lives just outside of Moscow, on his Novo-Ogaryovo estate.
Xi Jinping: Zhongnanhai
The complex that includes the official residence of the president of China is Zhongnanhai, next to the Forbidden City in Beijing. The residence features Qing dynasty palaces on two lakes and is also known as the Sea Palaces. The complex is also the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.
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