About Royal Palace of Caserta
The Royal Palace of Caserta (Reggia di Caserta) is a former royal residence in Southern Italy. It was built by the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies as their main residence as kings of Naples.
In terms of volume, the Royal Palace of Caserta is the largest royal residence in the world, covering an area of over 47,000 metres squared.
In 1997, the palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
History of Royal Palace of Caserta
The palace is located in Caserta, in the Campania region of Southern Italy.
Construction of the palace started in 1752 under Charles VIII of Naples (Charles III of Spain), with the designs by architect Luigi Vanvitelli filling Charles with emotion ‘fit to tear his heart from his breast.’ Charles sadly never even slept a night at the Reggia, as he abdicated in 1759 to become King of Spain.
The political and social model for the palace was Versailles. It was intended to function like a little city, housing a university, museum, library, cabinet bureaus, military high commands, as well as being a hugely powerful status symbol.
Considered a triumph of Italian Baroque, the palace has 5 floors and 1,200 rooms, including two dozen state apartments, a large library, and a theatre modelled after Teatro San Carlo of Naples.
The gardens are especially famous, extending across 11 acres. The English Garden is one of the greatest, oldest, and most important picturesque spaces created in Europe.
Buildings surrounding the palace such as a silk factory and associated workers’ homes being incorporated into the design was emblematic of Enlightenment thinking, which recognised that there was a relationship between royals and workers.
From 1923 to 1943 the palace was the location of the Accademia Aeronautica, the Italian Air Force Academy. In 1945, the palace was the site of the signing of terms of the unconditional surrender of German forces in Italy.
In 1997, the palace was a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its nomination file describing it as ‘the ‘swan song’ of the spectacular art of the Baroque period, from which it adopted all the features needed to create the illusions of a multi-directional space.’
Royal Palace of Caserta Today
Today, many of the rooms in the palace are open to the public. The grounds are also famously wonderful to visit, and it is recommended that you hire bikes, a horse-drawn carriage, or use the shuttle bus to make the most of all of the sights on offer.
The palace has also been used as a film set. Most notably, its famous entrance hall has provided a backdrop for Star Wars, Mission Impossible, and Angels & Demons.
Getting to Royal Palace of Caserta
From the centre of Naples, the palace is a 40 minute drive, via SS162dir. There’s also a regular connecting bus and train service from the centre of Naples which takes around 45 minutes.