The Royal Palace of Caserta
(Reggia di Caserta) is a large 18th-century palazzo situated in
the Italian town of Caserta, the successor of ancient and medieval Capua. The town is the
capital of a province of the Campania region and is situated 28 km from Naples. Its growth
dates from the 19th century.
Reggia di Caserta History
The Bourbon king Charles VII of Naples (from 1759 King Charles III of
Spain) decided to make Caserta the site of a royal residence in imitation of Versailles. His
choice was based on the excellent local hunting and the vulnerability of his palazzo at Naples
in the event of a popular uprising or an attack from the sea.
The building was designed by Luigi Vanvitelli and executed between
1752 and 1772. It was inhabitable from 1775 onwards and in the late 1770s and during the 1780s
such artists as Fidele Fischetti and Domenico Mondo produced frescoes for various
It was not fully furnished until the mid-19th century. Charles of
Bourbon never lived in it; his son Ferdinand IV did so only occasionally, and it only fulfilled
its intended purpose as a royal residence for the Bourbons between 1830 and 1860.
The royal palace of Caserta, standing as a
self-contained block in a flat site, is of striking appearance . The five-storey façade
(253 m×49 m) has, however, a certain monotonous quality exacerbated by the absence of the
architectural and ornamental additions intended by Vanvitelli.
Reggia di Caserta's interior is more
animated: it is divided into four equal-sized oblong courts radiating from a dramatic central
octagonal vestibule, where Vanvitelli employed scenographic principles to lead the viewer
through a series of imposing vistas.
The main axis is primarily for communication, while the transverse
axis leading from the vestibule contains the ceremonial staircase, chapel and theatre. The
chapel and to a certain extent the theatre were modelled on those at Versailles.
The chapel of Caserta Palace presents a lavish
display of marble work and incorporates several paintings, including a Presentation in the
Temple by Anton Raphael Mengs and an Immaculate Conception by Giuseppe Bonito. Although the
grand marble staircase is the area of greatest magnificence, the masonry throughout the
building is beautiful in its precision.
The formal gardens of the Caserta Palace were
laid out according to French textbook rules by Martin Biancour under Vanvitelli’s supervision.
The dominating axis is about 3 km long from the palace entrance to the waterfall at the end of
the park and was intended to be prolonged in the opposite direction as a road reaching all the
way to Naples.
A broad stretch of water, the canalone, with large fountains, occupies
the length of the vista which ends at the great cascade at the foot of the mountain. To one
side is a garden in the English style with rare plants.
The system by which water is conveyed to the park (1753–69) is one of
the greatest technical achievements of the 18th century; 42 km long, it includes a spectacular
aqueduct, the Archi della Valle, of antique proportions (528 m l.×60 m h.)
On the city side of the palazzo, Vanvitelli developed only the
schematic design seen in the bird’s-eye view in his Dichiarazione, with an oval forecourt
housing barracks and stables and roads radiating outwards. The town later developed to one side
of the palazzo and not in front of it as originally envisaged.
Caserta Royal Palace Map&Location
Reggia di Caserta Address: Piazza Carlo III, 81100 Caserta, Italy. Get help
with directions using the map provided bellow:
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