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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