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(virtual reality, chat)
A proprietary multi-user virtual reality-like talk system.

The Palace is distinguished from most other VR-like systems in that it is only two-dimensional rather than three; rooms, avatars, and "props" are made up of relatively small 2D bitmap images.

Palace is a crude hack, or lightweight, depending on your point of view.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


Official residence of an important dignitary; or royalty; often an elaborate structure with many rooms.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Russian, dvorets, from kniazhii dvor, the residence of a prince), a monumental and splendid building. Originally the palace was the residence of a ruler and later of members of the highest social strata. From the 13th century to the 15th the most important buildings occupied by government bodies began to be called palaces, and from the 19th century various public buildings were known by that name. The palaces of different periods were built by outstanding architects, painters, and masters of decorative art. Palaces are usually distinguished by their great dimensions and monumental forms.

In the slaveholding despotic states of the East and in the eastern Mediterranean, the construction of palaces was connected with the desire to inspire respect and with state ideology and played an important part in the development of architecture. In the palaces of Egyptian pharaohs, for example, that of Rameses III in Medinet Habu (12th century B.C.), rooms designed for formal receptions and ceremonies predominated. The palaces of the Cretan-Mycenaean period, such as the Cnossus Palace on Crete (2000 to 1500 B.C.), had many courtyards and had been gradually enlarged by the addition of many rooms, resulting in a complicated arrangement of interior spaces. In Persian palaces, for example, at Persepolis (sixth century to the fourth B.C.), the ruins of grand entrances, broad staircases, and halls with many columns have been preserved. With the construction of the palace of the Roman emperor Augustus (A.D. 14), there began an important new phase in the development of palace architecture, based on a design prepared in advance. It was followed by the palaces of other emperors, which were erected in Rome on the Palatine Hill, hence the Latin name palatium, which is the basis of corresponding terms in the Romance languages, for example, palazzo (Italian) and palais(French) and possibly of the Russian word palata(chamber). Roman palaces were distinguished by the strict symmetry of their richly decorated main reception rooms (the palace of the Flavian dynasty, first century A.D.), which were grouped about one or several courtyards transformed into gardens with fountains, pools, and sculpture. Halls of diverse designs were roofed with arches and cupolas, which created a harmonious system of coordinated interior spaces (Nero’s Golden House, first century A.D.). The magnificent ruins of these palaces are striking in the scope, monumentality, and grandeur of their scale.

The influence of architectural methods developed in Roman palaces was reflected in the architecture of the palaces of emperors and vicegerents in the Roman provinces in Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as in the countries that were part of the Byzantine Empire. Here these methods were transformed in accordance with local conditions and artistic traditions, for example, the palace of Diocletian in Split (c. 300) and the Great Palace (fourth to sixth centuries) and Bukoleon (fifth to eighth centuries) in Constantinople. Moorish architecture of the 13th and 14th centuries, with its refined and rich ornamentation (palaces in Sicily, the Alhambra in Granada), had some influence on the development of palace architecture in Europe, particularly in Spain.

With the development of medieval city-states in Europe, palaces of agencies of municipal self-government and of officials began to appear, for example, in Italy, the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena (1297–1310), the Doges’ Palace in Venice, and the Palazzo della Signoria, or Palazzo Vecchio, in Florence (13th to the 15th centuries). Palaces were built not only by the secular nobility but by the clergy as well, for example, the papal palaces in Orvieto (13th century) and in Avignon (14th century) and the palaces of the patriarchs and other members of the church hierarchy in Russia. The monumental palaces of the 15th and 16th centuries, with their spacious interior courtyards, libraries, and galleries for collections of paintings and unique objects, often occupied entire city blocks. During the period of absolutism these palaces had an important influence on the development of a new type of palace—the royal, imperial, tsarist palace—in which magnificent display was carried even further, for example, the Escorial near Madrid (16th century) and the Louvre in Paris (from the 16th century to the 18th). A characteristic feature of palace design became the suite of rooms, impelling the visitor onward as ever new architectural and spatial effects opened before him. The composition of the facade was based on the juxtaposition of smooth walls decorated with colonnades and sharply projecting breaks that seemed to link the building with the space surrounding it. Laid out, as a rule, on the main axis of square, park, garden, and building, the palaces dominate the surrounding area, for example, Versailles, Blenheim in Oxfordshire, England (1705–24), Schönbrunn in Vienna (1695–1749), and the Palazzo Reale in Caserta near Naples (from 1752). The same principle was developed independently in the palace architecture of the East. The Forbidden City in Peking is an enormous complex of residential buildings, pavilions, and temples set among terraced gardens ascending toward the center of the axis.

Russian palace complexes of the 12th to 17th centuries vividly expressed such characteristically Russian architectural features as the picturesque spatial composition of parts of buildings with different functions—mansion, entrance hall, towers, and outbuildings—united in an organic whole. An important role in Russian palace complexes was played by the height of churches and bell towers, as exemplified by the prince’s palace in Bogoliubovo (12th century), the Tower Palace in the Moscow Kremlin (17th century), and the wood palace in Kolomenskoe (17th century). The palaces of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th are close to those of Western Europe in the grandeur of their dimensions and in the complexity and, at the same time, the precision of their treatment of mass and space. They differ, however, in the vibrant color schemes of their facades (the palaces in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev; the numerous palaces of the tsars on the outskirts of the cities; and the palaces at noblemen’s country estates).

From the middle of the 19th century, palaces were great, often richly decorated public buildings of various kinds, including the Crystal Palace at the World’s Fair in London (1851) and the Sports Palace in Rome (1960). The word “palace” no longer denotes a particular type of building. Multifunctional sports palaces may be transformed, for example, into hockey or water-sports stadiums, auditoriums, or exhibition halls. New types of palaces have appeared in Soviet architecture, such as the Congress Palace in the Moscow Kremlin, palaces of culture, palaces and houses of Pioneers and schoolchildren, the fine arts palaces (for example, in Tashkent, 1968), and the wedding palaces (for example, in Tbilisi, 1964). They include one or more auditoriums, spacious foyers, and many rooms for club activities, which are subordinate to the central hall; in the Pioneers’ palaces the central hall is Lenin Hall, in the fine arts palaces it is the exhibition hall, and in the wedding palaces it is the ceremonial hall.


Uspenskii, A. I. Imperatorskie dvortsy, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1913.
Brunov, N. I. Dvortsy Frantsii XVU i XVIII vekov. [Moscow] 1938.
Swoboda, K. M. Römische und romanische Paläste. Vienna, 1924.
Chierici, G. Il palazzo italiano dal secolo XI al secolo XIX, parts 1–3. Milan [1952–57].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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