Royal Palace of Caserta

The Royal Palace of Caserta (Italian: Reggia di Caserta [ˈrɛddʒa di kaˈzɛrta; kaˈsɛrta]; Neapolitan: Reggia 'e Caserta [ˈrɛdːʒ(ə) e kaˈsertə]) is a former royal residence in Caserta, southern Italy, constructed by the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies as their main residence as kings of Naples. It is one of the largest palaces erected in Europe during the 18th century. In 1997, the palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site; its nomination described it as "the swan song of the spectacular art of the Baroque, from which it adopted all the features needed to create the illusions of multidirectional space".[1] In terms of volume, the Royal Palace of Caserta is one of the largest royal residences in the world[2] with over 1 million [3] and covering an area of about 160,000 .[4]

Royal Palace of Caserta
Reggia di Caserta
Reggia di Caserta, prospettiva dalla fontana di Venere e Adone - panoramio
View of the northern façade from the fountain of Venus and Adonis
Alternative namesPalazzo Reale di Caserta
General information
Architectural styleLater Baroque and Early Neoclassical
LocationCaserta, Italy
AddressViale Douhet, 81100 Caserta CE, Italy
Construction started1752
Technical details
Size247 × 184 × 36 meters (42 meters including the roof)
Floor areac. 235,000 m2 (2,529,519 ft2) on five floors. Each one measures c. 47,000 m2 (509,904 ft2)
Other information
Number of rooms1,200
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part of18th-Century Royal Palace at Caserta with the Park, the Aqueduct of Vanvitelli, and the San Leucio Complex
CriteriaCultural: (i), (ii), (iii), (iv)
Inscription1997 (21st Session)
Area87.37 ha (0.3373 sq mi)
Buffer zone110.76 ha (0.4276 sq mi)
Coordinates41°4′24″N 14°19′35″E / 41.07333°N 14.32639°ECoordinates: 41°4′24″N 14°19′35″E / 41.07333°N 14.32639°E
Royal Palace of Caserta is located in Italy
Royal Palace of Caserta
Location in Italy


Mappa Reggia di Caserta
Campania Caserta2 tango7174
Main façade of the palace.
Campania Caserta3 tango7174
Grand Staircase of Honour.
Campania Caserta6 tango7174
The throne room.
Campania Caserta10 tango7174
The Diana and Actaeon Fountain at the feet of the Grand Cascade.

The construction of the palace was begun in 1752 for Charles VII of Naples (Charles III of Spain), who worked closely with his architect, Luigi Vanvitelli. When Charles saw Vanvitelli's grandly scaled model for Caserta, it filled him with emotion "fit to tear his heart from his breast". In the end, he never slept a night at the Reggia, as he abdicated in 1759 to become King of Spain, and the project was carried to only partial completion for his third son and successor, Ferdinand IV of Naples.

The political and social model for Vanvitelli's palace was Versailles, which, though strikingly different in its variety and disposition, solves similar problems of assembling and providing for king, court and government in a massive building with the social structure of a small city, confronting a baroque view of a highly subordinated nature, la nature forcée.[5] This was part of the entire concept of the palace when it was first proposed by Mario Gioffredo sometime in 1750. According to Hersey, the proposal envisaged a palace "that was a virtual city, housing not just the court and king but all the main political and cultural elites of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - university, museum, library, cabinet bureaus, military high commands, and so on."[6]

The population of Caserta Vecchia was moved 10 kilometers to provide a work force closer to the palace. A silk manufactory at San Leucio resort was disguised as a pavilion in the immense parkland.

Another of the king's primary objects was to have a magnificent new royal court and administrative center for the kingdom in a location protected from sea attack, and distant from the revolt-prone and congested city of Naples. To provide the king with suitable protection, troop barracks were housed within the palace.

The Royal Palace of Madrid, where Charles had grown up, which had been devised by Filippo Juvarra for Charles' father, Philip V of Spain, and Charlottenburg Palace provided models. A spacious octagonal vestibule seems to have been inspired by Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in Venice, while the palatine chapel is most often compared to the Royal Chapel at Versailles. Vanvitelli died in 1773: the construction was continued by his son Carlo and then by other architects; but the elder Vanvitelli's original project, which included a vast pair of frontal wings similar to Bernini's wings at St. Peter's, was never finished.

From 1923 to 1943 the palace was the location of the Accademia Aeronautica, the Italian Air Force Academy. From October 1943 the royal palace served as the Allied Force Headquarters in the Mediterranean area. In April 1945 the palace was the site of the signing of terms of the unconditional German surrender of forces in Italy. The agreement covered between 600,000 and 900,000 soldiers along the Italian Front, including troops in sections of Austria. The first Allied war crimes trial took place in the palace in 1945; German general Anton Dostler was sentenced to death and executed nearby, in Aversa.[7] In the left hand arc behind the façade, a set of barracks were built. During World War II the soldiers of the US Fifth Army recovered here in a "rest centre".

Layout of the Palace

The palace has 5 floors, 1,200 rooms, including two dozen state apartments, a large library, and a theatre modelled after the Teatro San Carlo of Naples. A monumental avenue that would run 20 kilometers between the palace and Naples was planned but never realized.[8]

The palace has a rectangular plan, measuring 247 × 184 m, and the four sides are connected by two orthogonal arms, forming four inner courts. Each floor measures approximately 47,000 m2 (505,904 sq ft), but considering the five floors, the whole palace measures 235,000 m2 (2,529,519 sq ft).

Caserta is by far the largest royal palace in the world in terms of volume, with more than 2 million m³ (70 million cu ft).[9] Behind the façades of its matching segmental ranges of outbuildings that flank the giant forecourt, a jumble of buildings arose to facilitate daily business. The palace encloses four courts that feature what scholars describe as well-proportioned interior that evoke a monotonous dignity, unique in its time.[10]

Of all the royal residences inspired by the Palace of Versailles, the Reggia of Caserta is the one that bears the greatest resemblance to the original model: the unbroken balustraded skyline and the slight break provided by pavilions within the long, somewhat monotonous façade. As at Versailles, a large aqueduct was required to bring water for the prodigious water displays. Like its French predecessor, the palace was intended to display the power and grandeur of an absolute Bourbon monarchy. A solecism at Caserta is that above the piano reale, the King's floor, is another floor of equal magnificence. The enfilades of Late Baroque saloni were the heart and seat of government, as well as displays of national wealth. Caserta provided a royal refuge from the dust and factions of the capital, just as Versailles had freed Louis XIV from Paris. The royal palace has more than 40 monumental rooms completely decorated with frescoes when, in comparison, Versailles counts only 22 monumental rooms.

The park

The garden, a typical example of the baroque extension of formal vistas, stretches for 120 ha, partly on hilly terrain. It is also inspired by the park of Versailles. The park starts from the back façade of the palace, flanking a long alley with artificial fountains and cascades. There is a botanical garden, called "The English Garden", in the upper part designed in the 1780s by Carlo Vanvitelli and the German-born botanist, nurseryman, plantsman-designer, John Graefer, trained in London and recommended to Sir William Hamilton by Sir Joseph Banks.[11] It is an early Continental example of an "English garden" in the svelte naturalistic taste of Capability Brown.

The fountains and cascades, each filling a vasca (basin), with architecture and hydraulics by Luigi Vanvitelli at intervals along a wide straight canal that runs to the horizon, rivalled those at Peterhof outside St. Petersburg. These include:

A large number of figures from classical Antiquity were modelled by Gaetano Salomone for the gardens of the Reggia, and executed by large workshops.

Contemporary observers noted that the Caserta surpassed all other royal palaces in Europe, including its models, on one particular aspect: the combination of completeness and stateliness.[12] This is attributed to the spacious oval piazza in front of the edifice's south side

UNESCO World Heritage site

The palace was listed as a world heritage site in 1997. According to the rationale, the palace, "whilst cast in the same mould as other 18th century royal establishments, is exceptional for the broad sweep of its design, incorporating not only an imposing palace and park, but also much of the surrounding natural landscape and an ambitious new town laid out according to the urban planning precepts of its time."[13]

Film location

The Palace's classical style and similarity to the Vatican has made it a popular filming location. It doubles for the Vatican in Mission Impossible III, Angels and Demons and The Good Pope a biography of Pope John XXIII. It is the location of the Naboo Royal Palace in the Star Wars franchise.

See also


  1. ^ Unesco site evaluation.
  2. ^ Dictionnaire amoureux de Versailles - Caserte le Versailles napolitain
  3. ^ "Royal Palace of Caserta guide, page 6, box: "I numeri della Reggia di Caserta"". January 13, 2013.
  4. ^ "CampaniaBeniCulturali - Reggia di Caserta". March 29, 2012. Archived from the original on 2014-10-19.
  5. ^ Siegfried Giedion (1941) Space, Time and Architecture pp 133ff.
  6. ^ Hersey, George (2001). Architecture and Geometry in the Age of the Baroque. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 119. ISBN 0226327841.
  7. ^ Anthony Cave Brown (1984). The last hero: Wild Bill Donovan. Vintage Books.
  8. ^ Bruno, Nick (2013). Naples: Includes Pompeii, Vesuvius & Herculaneum Footprint Focus Guides. Footprint Travel Guides. p. 53. ISBN 1908206942.
  9. ^ "Royal Palace of Caserta guide, page 6, box: "I numeri della Reggia di Caserta"".
  10. ^ Hamlin, A.D.F. (1897). History of Architecture. Biblo & Tannen Publishers. p. 309. ISBN 0819628735.
  11. ^ Alice M. Coats, "Forgotten Gardeners, II: John Graefer" The Garden History Society Newsletter No. 16 (February 1972), pp. 4–7.
  12. ^ Laxton, William (1848). The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, Volume 11. London: R. Groombridge and Sons. p. 36.
  13. ^ Unesco listing

Further reading

  • Attlee, Helena (2006). Italian Gardens - A Cultural History (paperback). London: Frances Lincoln. pp. 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-7112-3392-8.
  • Hersey, George. Architecture, Poetry, and Number in the Royal Palace at Caserta, (Cambridge: MIT Press) 1983. Caserta interpreted through the Neapolitan philosopher Giambattista Vico

Bucciano is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Benevento in the Italian region of Campania, located about 40 km northeast of Naples and about 20 km southwest of Benevento on the southern slopes of the Monte Taburno.


Casagiove is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Caserta in the Italian region Campania, located about 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) west of Caserta.


Caserta (Italian: [kaˈzɛrta] (listen) or [kaˈsɛrta]; Neapolitan: [kaˈsertə]) is the capital of the province of Caserta in the Campania region of Italy. It is an important agricultural, commercial and industrial comune and city. Caserta is located on the edge of the Campanian plain at the foot of the Campanian Subapennine mountain range. The city is best known for the Palace of Caserta.

Caserta railway station

Caserta railway station (IATA: CTJ) (Italian: Stazione di Caserta) serves the city and comune of Caserta, in the region of Campania, southern Italy. Opened in 1843, it forms the junction between the Rome–Cassino–Naples railway and the Naples–Foggia railway.

The station is currently managed by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI). However, the commercial area of the passenger building is managed by Centostazioni. Train services are operated by Trenitalia. Each of these companies is a subsidiary of Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), Italy's state-owned rail company.

Economy of Naples

Naples is Italy's fourth largest city in terms of economic size, coming after Milan, Rome and Turin. It is the world's 91st richest city by purchasing power, with a GDP of $43 billion. Were Naples a country, it would be the world's 68th biggest economy or around the size of Qatar. The economy of Naples and its surrounding area is based largely on tourism, commerce, industry and agriculture. Naples also acts as a busy cargo terminal and the port of Naples is one of the Mediterranean's biggest and most important. The city has had remarkable economic growth since World War II, and unemployment in the wider region has fallen dramatically since 1999. Naples was once a busy industrial city though many factories have shut down in the last decades. Naples is still characterized by high levels of corruption and organized crime.

Farnese Collection

The classical sculptures in the Farnese Collection, one aspect of this large art collection, are one of the first collections of artistic items from Greco-Roman Antiquity. It includes some of the most influential classical works, including the sculptures that were part of the Farnese Marbles, their collection of statuary. The works are now displayed in the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Naples and the British Museum in London.

Fedele Fischetti

Fedele Fischetti (30 March 1732 – 25 January 1792) was an Italian painter of the Neoclassical period. He was born and died in Naples.

Girolamo Segato

Girolamo Segato (13 June 1792 – 3 February 1836) was an Italian naturalist, cartographer, Egyptologist, and anatomist. He is perhaps best known for his work in the artificial petrifaction of human cadavers.Segato was born in the Carthusian monastery of Vedana. As a child, Segato learned basic sciences from Antonio Bagini, a Sospirolo priest. After studying under Bagini, Segato spent a short time as an accountant in Treviso before returning to secondary schooling in Belluno, where his teacher was Tomaso Antonio Catullo.

From 1818 onwards Segato participated in several archaeological expeditions to Egypt, where he became an expert in the techniques of mummification; however, most of his studies undertaken during these trips were lost.

Upon his return to Florence in 1823, Segato developed a technique similar to mummification, but unique: rather than simply removing water from cadavers, Segato's method consisted of what appears to be mineralization or "petrification". His particular technique permitted to save the original colors and features of the textures, besides their elasticity. Most of his works can be found perfectly preserved at the University of Florence, but there is also an example at the Royal Palace of Caserta: a table in the Old Apartments, the surface of which is made with the "petrification" technique.Word soon spread that Segato had acquired knowledge of Egyptian magic. Hampered by the society of his time, he was prompted to destroy all his notes before his death. Segato took to the grave the secret of the technique he developed, which, despite numerous studies and attempts to imitate, remains mysterious. It is said that, on his death, he would reveal his secret to his friend Pellegrini (nicknamed Pellegro), but he died prematurely.

He died in 1836, and was buried in the Basilica of Santa Croce. Today, many of Segato's surviving petrified human remains can be found in the Museum of the Department of Anatomy in Florence.

Girolamo Starace

Girolamo Starace (circa 1745 – 1785) was an Italian painter of the late-Baroque period, active mainly in Naples.

Giuseppe Bonito

Giuseppe Bonito (11 January 1707 – 9 May 1789) was a Neapolitan painter of the Rococo period. Giuseppe Bonito is known for genre depictions on canvas. Many of Gaspare Traversi's paintings had previously been attributed to Bonito.

Giuseppe Cammarano

Giuseppe Cammarano (4 June 1766 – 8 October 1850) was an Italian painter and leader of the Academy of Arts in his birthplace of Sciacca, Sicily.

Infante Antonio Pascual of Spain

Infante Antonio Pascual Francisco Javier Juan Nepomuceno Aniello Raimundo Silvestre of Spain (31 December 1755 – 20 April 1817) was a son of King Charles III of Spain and younger brother of King Charles IV of Spain and King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.

Italian Neoclassical architecture

Italian Neoclassical architecture refers to architecture in Italy during the Neoclassical period (1750s - 1850s).

John Graeffer

John Graefer or Johann Andreas Graeffer (1 January 1746 – 7 August 1802) was a German botanist nurseryman born in Helmstedt. Graeffer/Graefer is remembered by garden historians as having introduced a number of exotic plants to British gardens and to have worked for the king of Naples at the palace of Caserta.Trained by Philip Miller at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, one of the most prominent botanical gardens of Europe during the 18th century, Graeffer was subsequently gardener to the Earl of Coventry at Croome Court, Worcestershire, which was being landscaped by Capability Brown, and then to James Vere, of Kensington Gore, a founder of the Royal Horticultural Society Graeffer struck out on his own as a partner with Archibald Thompson and the prominent nurseryman James Gordon in Gordon's long-established Mile End nursery near the New Globe, Stepney, just beyond the East End of London. After Gordon's retirement and his death in 1780, the nursery at Mile End was inherited by Gordon's three sons.In August 1781, it was reported in L'ésprit des Journaux, that MM Grœffer et Bessel had been issued a royal patent (dated 30 December 1780) for their preparation of cooked and preserved vegetables for the Royal Navy and the use of those on sea voyages; it was the first recorded patent for preserving vegetables by drying them. For that purpose, it was reported, they had purchased 200 arpents of land near the "nouvelle globe", Mile End, for plantings, which appears to be Gordon's long-established plant nursery. The patent was issued for preserving "a vegetable of the Brassica kind, generally known by the name of green and brown borecole, scotch or other kale with a salt solution and drying so it will keep for up to a year."Among Graeffer's introductions to British horticulture by far the most familiar was the variegated form of Aucuba japonica, the loved and loathed "Spotted Laurel" of gardens, which he introduced to British horticulture in 1783, at first as a plant for a heated greenhouse; it became widely cultivated as the "Gold Plant" by 19th-century gardeners. According to John Claudius Loudon he was also responsible for the introduction of Pyrus bollwylleriana, the Bollwyller pear (later called Shipova), and P. baccata (later called Malus baccata), the Siberian wild crab. Another of his introductions was Sideroxylon melanophloeos (later called Rapanea melanophloeos), from the Cape Province, 1784.Not all his introductions took: in 1783 Graeffer introduced Fumaria nobilis, a little alpine plant native to the Altai in Siberia, but it was subsequently lost to horticulture and reintroduced; he catalogued 80 species of plants suitable for rock gardens in 1789. Graham Stuart Thomas who knew the 1794 edition, found it "certainly the first 'quick reference' book on alpines that I have come across: he gives full particulars of descriptions and cultivation in a tabulated list. I think he was entitled to claim: 'The Author proposes in his use of his great variety of Herbaceous Plants a more constant and uniform and gay Attraction of Gardens, than has been hitherto pointed out, or adopted'".He also issued A Descriptive Catalogue of Upwards of Eleven Hundred Species and Varieties of Herbaceous Or Perennial Plants that same year.In the 1790s Graeffer obtained a recommendation from Sir Joseph Banks, to be employed as head gardener to the king of Naples; at the royal palace of Caserta he introduced elements of the English landscape garden to the extensive formal plan, the Giardino Inglese instigated by Sir William Hamilton, for King Ferdinand, who eventually took an interest in it, after Sir William had urged Queen Maria Carolina, as Hamilton reported to Banks from Caserta 22 April 1794, "that it would be a constant reproach to this country the having had by your goodness such a man as Graeffer for more than ten years without having had the least profit from his well known talents". A knowledgeable visitor, Sir James Edward Smith, founder of the Linnean Society, has left an account of Graeffer's unsuccessful try at introducing the English taste:

Mr Graeffer, a very ingenious gardener recommended to the queen of Naples by sir Joseph Banks, was then employed in laying out a garden for her majesty in the English taste, to which purpose a portion of ground was allotted nor far from the palace; but unluckily in full view of a stupendous brick wall , built with Herculean labour for the purpose of keeping the above-mentioned cascade in its place. No plantation whatever could conceal this glaring wall from any part of the garden; nor could any climbing plants reach near to its top. The ground was besides occupied by miserable olives, with scarcely a picturesque tree to turn to account. Nevertheless Mr. Graeffer had succeeded, we thought, wonderfully. He had formed some very pleasant lawns, interspersed with clumps of myrtle and other shrubs, and the whole wore a very promising appearance. But unfortunately none of the Neapolitans could see any kind of beauty in his performances, and they complained of his introducing so vulgar a thing as myrtle! The queen was much disposed to be pleased, but she could not stem the tide of opinion; nor did the king approve of the expense: so the whole was given up some time after.

With more success, Graeffer, who must have had plenty of time on his hands, published a catalogue of the plants at Caserta, Synopsis plantarum regii viridarii Caserti (Naples 1803).

In 1799, on Sir William Hamilton's suggestion, he became bailiff of Admiral Horatio Nelson's estate at Bronte, Sicily, where Graeffer was expected to reorganize the agriculture along progressive English lines; his extravagant ideas, however, consumed the income Nelson expected from the estate: to Lady Hamilton Nelson wrote "I hope Graeffer is going on so at Bronté; I am sure I take nothing from that estate.". Graeffer died in Bronte in 1802.

List of royal palaces

This is a list of royal palaces, sorted by continent.

Surrender of Caserta

The Surrender of Caserta (Italian: Resa di Caserta) of April 29, 1945 was the written agreement that formalized the surrender of German forces in Italy, ending the Italian Campaign of World War II. The document, signed at the Royal Palace of Caserta, was to become effective on May 2, 1945.

Although British Field Marshal Harold Alexander claimed the Surrender of Caserta shortened the war in Europe by six to eight weeks and saved Northern Italy from more destruction along with tens of thousands of lives, the German Commander-in-Chief of Army Group C Heinrich von Vietinghoff had noted on 28 April that fighting would cease within one or two days regardless of negotiations, the German troops having neither arms nor ammunition left. Further destruction was thus unlikely, Army Group C having decided already on 11 April to not carry out Hitler's scorched earth policy.Owing in part to Allied air attacks, the German forces in Italy had received no supplies from Germany since the first week of April. Since Allied aircraft had destroyed all bridges across the Po river, the Germans abandoned their heavy weapons and motor vehicles south of it during the Allied spring offensive. What was left of the German infantry was mostly wiped out during the fighting. The remaining troops had retreated across the Po using improvised transports and were reorganized by blocking detachments to man the front line and fight on, but without arms their situation was hopeless.

Tito Angelini

Tito Angelini (1806–1878) was an Italian sculptor and leader of the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples, where he was born and died.

Tony Cragg

Sir Anthony Douglas Cragg (born 9 April 1949) is a British sculptor.

Landmarks of Campania

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