From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A palace is a grand residence where aristocrats usually live. Other possible inhabitants include the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking public figure. In many parts of Europe, the term is also applied to relatively large urban buildings built as the private mansions of the aristocracy. Many historic palaces are now put to other uses such as parliaments, museums, hotels or office buildings. The word is also sometimes used to describe a lavish public building which was never a residence; this use may be intended to convey that the building is a "people's palace", where a sort of civic consciousness resides.