The Royal Palace of Caserta
The Royal Palace of Caserta is the largest royal residence in the world. It was built starting from 1752 by Luigi Vanvitelli, and later by his son Carlo, at the behest of King Charles III of Bourbon. The Palace should have rivaled that of Versailles in magnificence and grandeur. The sumptuous palace is in fact an ideal and original fusion of two other royal residences: the Palace of Versailles of the kings of France and the Madrid Palace of the Escorial, seat of the kings of Spain. The Royal Palace was to be a symbol of the new Bourbon state and manifest power and grandeur. The Palace was completed in 1845 (although it had already been inhabited since 1780) and is considered the last great example of Italian Baroque. The visitor is enchanted by the beauty of the interior and the magnificence of the exterior of the Palace. For its splendour, in 1997 the Royal Palace of Caserta was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The construction of the Royal Palace was commissioned in Caserta because the king was very fascinated by the beauty of the place and, for security reasons, he wanted it far from the sea and inland, but not far from Naples. The Palace has five floors and four internal courtyards. Inside it has a majestic staircase of honour, the Palatine Chapel, the historic apartment, the court theatre and the art gallery. On the main facade there are 143 windows and in the building there are 1200 rooms and 34 stairways. The building is made of brick and the two lower floors are covered with travertine slabs. The entire structure is crowned by a large central dome. The construction is completed by a large park, a typical example of an Italian garden, and with a scenic waterfall.
The Royal Palace and Gardens of Caserta (Palazzo Reale di Caserta), built in the 18th century, former baroque residence of the Bourbon kings in Campania. UNESCO World Heritage Site. (foto © kaprik / Shutterstock.com)
The Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy (foto © AlePana / Shutterstock.com)
Inside, the Palace is a continuous succession of stuccoes, bas-reliefs, frescoes, sculptures, inlaid floors. Noteworthy are those of the Hall of Astrea, the Hall of Mars and the Throne Room. The latter is the largest of the royal apartments and was used for the reception of personalities.
The most scenic parts of the Palace are probably the whole of the atrium and the monumental staircase of honour and the chapel. The court theatre is also noteworthy, an admirable example of eighteenth-century theatrical architecture.
The art gallery inside houses numerous paintings depicting still lifes, war events and portraits of the Bourbon dynasty. The library is annexed to the Queen’s apartments and is finely decorated with reliefs and frescoes including the one that reproduces the zodiac signs and constellations, made from a design by Vanvitelli himself.
The Royal Nativity Scene is also set up in the Elliptical Room of the Palace. The tradition of the Christmas nativity scene was inaugurated by Charles III of Bourbon and then taken up by his successors. The basic structure is made of cork and occupies an area of 40 square meters; on this there are 1200 figures, the most important made entirely of terracotta. In addition to the traditional scenes of the Nativity with the Adoration of the Magi, a reconstruction of the daily life of the time can be seen.
Inside the Palace you can also admire the “Terrae Motus” exhibition, a collection of contemporary art works created by great artists in the 1980s such as Keith Haring, Anselm Kiefer and Andy Warhol.
To complete the beauty of the Palace is the park that extends up to the top of the hill, composed of fountains and waterfalls. Along the central axis, there are pools, fountains and waterfalls, decorated with large sculptural groups. The result is a dramatic effect of great impact that reaches its peak in the Great Waterfall.
Fontana di Venere e Adone at the Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy (foto © Shutterstock.com)
The Royal Palace of Caserta (Italian: Reggia di Caserta) is a former royal residence in Caserta with a very large garden and many fountains of the kings of Naples. (foto © Shutterstock.com)
Reggia di Caserta
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