Caserta Italy, Dazzling Royal Palace and Gardens.

by Steven Sklifas
Fountain of Diana and Actaeon. Royal Palace. Caserta. Italy.

Caserta. Campania. Italy. View of the impressive fountain of Diana and Actaeon in which the great cascade, a waterfall some 75 metres high plunges. The sculpture group in picture is of the goddess Diana, the patron of chastity who is bathing and is surrounded by nymphs.

The 18th century Royal Palace or Reggia di Caserta is Italy’s most magnificent Palace and one of Europe’s grandest Royal residences.

Its immense park garden is one of the most dazzling and grandiose in Europe.

The Palace or Palazzo Reale was built at the behest of Charles III of Bourbon (who never ended up living there) and was intended to not only be the pride of the Bourbon monarchy, but to be so beautiful as to rival and even overshadow Versailles in France.

Designed by Luigi Vanvitelli, southern Italy’s greatest architect, the construction of the Palace began in 1752 and was completed in 1774.

The lavish and vast Baroque Palace consists of five storeys, 43 staircases, 1,790 windows and 1,200 rooms all arranged around four courtyards.

Staircase of Honour. Royal Palace. Caserta. Italy.

Looking down the grand central flight of steps known as the Staircase of Honour at the Royal Palace, Reggia di Caserta, Italy. The staircase connects the ground and first floors and is made up of 116 steps created from blocks of pietra lumachella from Trapani Sicily. It divides into two parallel flights of steps at the half-landing guarded by two marble white lions. The entrance to the higher vestibule is at the end of the staircase.

The royal park, also designed to rival the gardens of Versailles, stretches for 3 kilometres across the park in a straight line from behind the Royal Palace.

The immense avenue is flanked by hornbeam hedges and lined by narrow lawns and punctuated by stepped cascades, ponds, groups of statues and fountains with mythological themes and finally ending up at the base of the great cascade, a waterfall some 75 metres high which tumbles into the basin of Diana and Actaeon.

There is also a Botanical Garden known as the English Garden which is the first of its type on the European mainland and is in the naturalistic style similar to those created by the famous English Landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

Caserta is located 40 km north of Naples in the Southern Italian region of Campania. I have made the trip numerous times via train from Rome. The station is opposite the Palace.

The Palace complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.


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