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Caserta Palace Gardens access, layout & highlights

The Caserta Palace Gardens: English elegance meets Baroque luxury

The Royal Palace of Caserta isn't just about its astonishingly lavish interiors but also its sprawling gardens, designed by Luigi Vanvitelli in the 18th century. Spanning over 120 hectares, the gardens balance meticulously designed Italian and romantic English landscapes. A triumph of Italian Baroque, they feature pools, fountains, and cascades aligned to create a stunning 'telescope effect.' Each detail of the Royal park and gardens speaks to the elite taste of the Bourbon dynasty.

How to access the gardens?

Caserta gardens are easily accessible with your Royal Park tickets. The gardens start directly from the back façade of the palace building. There are direct access points and pathways leading out from the palace into the expansive 120-hectare gardens.

Royal Palace of Caserta Gardens in a nutshell

  • Size and scope: Area is 120 hectares (296 acres) and length is approximately 3.3 kilometers (2 miles)
  • Water features: A breathtaking Grand Cascade, featuring multiple waterfalls, leads to a large reflecting pool. Dotted throughout the gardens are ornamental fountains, each a unique work of art with its own symbolic meaning.
  • Botanical diversity: Thousands of plants, both native and exotic, were meticulously chosen to add color, texture, and fragrance to the gardens. The gardens also house a rich variety of trees, creating a sense of grandeur and providing shade.
  • Design and layout:
    - Formal Italian Gardens: Featuring meticulously designed parterres, sculptures, and geometric patterns, these gardens were inspired by the likes of Versailles.
    - Romantic English Garden: Offering a contrasting landscape, this section boasts winding paths, lakes, and a more natural aesthetic.
    - "Telescope Effect": The layout of the gardens uses a clever optical illusion, aligning pools, fountains, and cascades to create a seemingly endless vista from the palace.

History of the Caserta Palace Gardens

Caserta Palace Gardens

The visionary beginnings

1752-1773

Designed by Luigi Vanvitelli, the works for Caserta Palace Gardens began in 1753 and combined the design of the Italian Renaissance Garden with a solution for the Versailles gardens. Luigi introduced the ‘Telescope Effect’ by designing a straight avenue that started from Naples and ended at the waterfall's top that was located at the end of the Garden of the Royal Palace of Caserta.  

Caserta Palace Gardens

A period of slow progress

1773-1845

The current garden at the Royal Palace of Caserta is a reduced version of Luigi’s design. After Luigi passed away in 1773, work halted for almost 4 years. In 1777, his son Carlo presented the King with a reduced version of the original design because of economic difficulties at the time and the number of fountains in the second part of the Caserta Palace Gardens. However, Carlo made sure that his father’s vision was accomplished for the garden with the 3.3 km canal.

Caserta Palace Gardens

The Queen’s Rivalry

Queen Maria Carolina, the wife of King Ferdinand IV, was in competition with her sister Queen Marie Antoinette of France. She requested that an English Garden be built that obscured the beauty of Petit Trianon of Versailles. The construction began in 1786 and the Queen invested her personal fortunes to make sure that the English Garden was quite different from the Park at the Royal Palace of Caserta.

A walk inside the Caserta Palace Gardens

Caserta Palace Gardens

The Parterre and the Old Woods

The Parterre is the wide clearing that you come across when you leave Reggia di Caserta's gallery. It follows the French Garden designs and you will find wide grasslands that resemble a grass carpet. The Old Woods, on the left of the Parterre, existed before the buildings and were kept to maintain the natural element of the garden. It was also the 'Secret Garden' used for entertainment and as a resting place for the court.

Caserta Palace Gardens

The Fountains

In the Caserta Palace Gardens, you will come across a long alley with artificial fountains and cascades that fill multiple basins along a canal. Each fountain is decorated with rich sculptures such as dolphins, Aeolus, Ceres, Venus, Adonis, and a lot more. The fountains were designed in a way that they appear to be much shorter than their actual length of 3 km, thanks to short waterfalls and large basins, creating an optical artifice.

Caserta Palace Gardens

The English Garden

Occupying an area of 24 hectares, The English Garden is the first example of an informal garden in Italy. The garden is home to rare and exotic plants that were imported from around the world. Apart from the plants, this garden also houses several lakes, temples, a greenhouse, an English mansion, a bee house, and many other beautiful statues and elements.

Caserta Palace Gardens

The Carolino Aqueduct

The Carolino Aqueduct, a 38km hydraulic engineering marvel, was built to supply water to the fountains, the Royal Palace of Caserta, the cities Caserta and Naples around the Palace, and all the farms in the area. The entire conduit is buried except for the bridge which is made up of several arches and turrets for improved stability and better maintenance.

Caserta Palace Gardens

The Complex of Saint Leucio Belvedere

Initiated by King Ferdinand IV, The Complex of Saint Leucio Belvedere is a huge village complex in the Royal Palace of Caserta. This complex comprises a functioning silk factory, a living silk museum, Former Royal Apartments and manicured gardens. It was also the birthplace of women’s rights at the request of Queen Maria Carolina. 

Caserta Palace Gardens

San Silvestro’s Oasis

A 100 hectares estate bought by King Charles of Bourbon, San Silvestro's Oasis was once a place for hunting, hiking, and immersing oneself in nature. Today, the oasis is funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature where visitors can indulge in a lot of activities here such as night tours, learning about bats, seeing fireflies, nature trails, and more. 




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Frequently asked questions about Caserta Palace Gardens

What was the inspiration behind the gardens of Royal Palace of Caserta?

The Caserta Palace Gardens were heavily inspired by the French Baroque style, particularly the grandeur of the Palace of Versailles. Architect Luigi Vanvitelli aimed to create a sense of order, symmetry, and awe-inspiring vistas mirroring the power and wealth of the Bourbon dynasty.

What are the key features of the 'telescope effect' in the garden's design?

The "telescope effect" in the Caserta Palace Gardens is a clever optical trick achieved through strategic alignment and perspective. Pools, fountains, and cascades are positioned along a central axis, creating the illusion of an endless depth. Statues and sculptures frame this view, drawing the eye further down the line and enhancing the perception of vastness. It makes the gardens appear much larger and more expansive than they truly are.

How do the Italian gardens and English landscapes differ within the Caserta Palace Gardens?

The Italian gardens are characterized by their formal layout, symmetrical design, and ornate fountains. In contrast, the English landscapes feature more natural, romantic elements such as rolling lawns, winding paths, and varied plantings that mimic natural scenery, creating a relaxed and picturesque environment.

How has the design of the Caserta Palace Gardens influenced modern landscape architecture?

The Caserta Palace Gardens have influenced modern landscape architecture through their innovative use of space, water features, and the integration of formal and natural elements. The 'telescope effect' and the blending of Italian and English styles have inspired contemporary garden designers to create spaces that balance formality with natural beauty. Modern examples include the National Mall in Washington D.C. with its reflecting pool and monuments aligned along a central axis, or Longchamp Park in Paris, where the Grand Cascade leads the eye towards the cityscape.

What is the historical significance of the Caserta Palace Gardens in relation to the Bourbon dynasty?

The gardens symbolize the power and sophistication of the Bourbon dynasty. They were designed to showcase the wealth and taste of the Bourbons, serving as a symbol of their rule and cultural influence. The gardens also reflect the political and social aspirations of the dynasty during the 18th century.

How are the Caserta palace gardens maintained and preserved today?

To maintain their UNESCO World Heritage status, the Caserta Palace Gardens undergo a multi-faceted preservation effort. This includes meticulous restoration of fountains, sculptures, and water systems, alongside careful conservation of both completed Baroque sections and undeveloped areas. Horticultural experts meticulously care for the diverse plant collection, ensuring the gardens remain a flourishing testament to history and a captivating masterpiece of landscape design.

What are the best times of year to visit the Caserta Palace Gardens for optimal beauty?

The best times to visit are in the spring and early summer when the gardens are in full bloom, and the weather is pleasant. The fall season also offers beautiful foliage and a more serene experience. Each season, however, has its unique charm and beauty.

Are there any guided tours for the Gardens?

Yes, guided tours are available for the Caserta Palace Gardens. These tours offer in-depth insights into the garden's design, history, and key features, allowing visitors to fully appreciate the grandeur and intricacies of the gardens.