The Royal Palace of Caserta, or Reggia di Caserta, is a creation of the famous architect Luigi Vanvitelli and was built to rival the Palace of Versailles and the Royal Palace in Madrid. Featuring sprawling gardens, fountains, a hunting lodge, natural woodland, and a silk factory, the Royal Palace of Caserta is most definitely worth a visit.
A structure of marvel and wonder, this is another one of Vanvitelli’s miracles where he manages to hide the majesty of the structure. Various statues flank the staircase and the dome’s large size manages to mask the space for the orchestra, giving the effect of an ‘invisible choir’. The Grand Staircase in the Royal Palace of Caserta has also been an inspiration for many other beautiful staircases designed afterward.
The Royal Floor in the Palace of Caserta was divided into 4 quarters by Luigi Vanvitelli. The south-west of the floor was the quarter for the King and is called XIX Century apartments today. The south-east part of the floor was for the Crown Prince, known as XVIII Century apartments today, and was the only section inhabited by the Royal Family for more than 50 years. The other two quarters are called Old and New Apartments.
Another Luigi Vanvitelli creation, the Palatine Chapel was also inspired by the chapel in the Palace of Versailles. However, Luigi gave the Chapel its own allure by following a Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque design. The Palatine Chapel is situated near the entrance of the Royal Apartments and was inaugurated in the Christmas of 1784.
The Palatine Library occupies 3 rooms of the Old Apartments in the Royal Palace of Caserta and is furnished beautifully in walnut and mahogany. There are about 14,000 books and booklets collected in this library over time by the Royal Family, including some important and prestigious scripts. You can also find books on the significant works of the European and Neapolitan cultures of the modern era.
A Neapolitan art gallerist, Lucio Amelio, requested many contemporary artists to share their creations with the Royal Palace of Caserta after a devastating earthquake hit Italy on 23rd November, 1980. This collection, called the Terrae Motus (earthquake in Latin) Collection, has pieces of art from many contemporary artists at the time, including Michelangelo Pistoletto, Robert Mapplethorpe, Joseph Beuys, and many more.
The Royal Palace of Caserta boasts a flamboyant collection of paintings from the 16th to 19th centuries. There are 9 rooms in total, each room filled with paintings sorted by specific subjects. Some of these collections include still life paintings, portraits of the Royal Family, stills from history, landscape paintings, and many more.
Modeled after the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, the Royal Court at the Reggia di Caserta was among the first theatres to take on the shape of a horseshoe. The theatre, despite being modeled after the San Carlo, was said to be better and offered better acoustics. The sovereign used this theatre for private executions of the Neapolitan Theatre shows.
Apart from paintings, the Royal Palace of Caserta also has posh collections of other artwork, including furniture, porcelain, furnishings, drawings, frescoes, and much more. For more than 200 years, this artwork was subject to damages, looting and theft, and yet, each piece in these collections is absolutely extraordinary
A nod to the French Gardens by Vanvitelli, the Par Terre is a clearing that is visible as you leave the palace. Luigi took inspiration from French Gardens and designed the garden to represent weaves similar to colourful flower carpets. Adjacent to the Par Terre is the Old Woods of Bosco Vecchio, which has existed since before the park itself.
The fountains in the Royal Palace of Caserta pass through the park and have been carefully curated after centuries of landscaping. Its waters come directly from the Carolina Aqueduct. Vanvitelli’s optical illusions are on full display as he manages to hide the true length of the avenue along the waterfall. While the canal is almost 3 kms long, it appears much shorter because of a combination of little waterfalls and big basins.
The Saint Leucio hill, located to the north-east of the Royal Palace of Caserta, has a beautiful mansion situated here for the views and is called the Belvedere of Saint Leucio. Today, the mansion holds one of the most prestigious silk factories in the world. You can also view the restored antique looms and learn about the production of silk here.
King Charles bought a 100 hectare land close to the Royal Palace of Caserta and expanded it for hunting, cultivating olive trees and vineyards, breeding cattle and producing cheese. Within, there is an 8 hectare rectangular vineyard called San Silvestro’s Oasis. Today, it is funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature and preserves not just the fruit that was once served to the King, but also offers a trail to understand the small creatures of nature.
A 38 km long engineering masterpiece by Luigi Vanvitelli, the Carolino Aqueduct was one of the most important works carried out by the Bourbon Empire. Its purpose was to feed water to the palace, gardens and fountains along with supplying water to the upcoming city of Caserta around the palace. This showed that the Bourbon dynasty, unlike the other European dynasties at the time, wanted to build something useful for their people as well.
The Royal Palace of Caserta is the largest palace in the world when measured by volume. It was designed by Naples’ most famous architect at the time, Luigi Vanvitelli. The multi-directional spatial illusion can be seen inside the palace and the vast gardens and fountains have been aligned in a telescopic fashion.
The architecture of the palace has been referred to as the Swan Song of the Baroque style and it is visible in every detail of the palace. As the Palace of Caserta was constructed during various periods, you will also find certain Neapolitan influences in the architectural design.
Luigi Vanvitelli designed the Carolina Aqueduct to fill up small basins at intervals along the long straight canal that runs through the gardens of the Palace of Caserta. Many fountains in the Palace Gardens are watered by this canal, some of which include