Arts & Tradition

The Largest Royal Palace in the World: Caserta, in Italy

Larger than life: Art that inspires us through the ages
BY Jeff Perkin TIMEMay 16, 2022 PRINT

Standing five stories tall with an incredible 1,200 rooms, Reggia di Caserta, or the Royal Palace of Caserta, is the largest royal palace in the world by volume. Honored as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, the palace was called “the swan song of the spectacular art of the Baroque” as part of its confirmation.

A highlight of Italian Baroque architecture, the otherworldly interiors of the palace were utilized in two “Star Wars” films. The immensely sprawling property encompasses 300 acres with the palace’s floor area making up over a half-million square feet. 

Designed by architect Luigi Vanvitelli, the palace is a large rectangular plan with four orthogonal arms which create four inner courtyards. A vaulted arcade connects three octagonal vestibules that lead to the four courtyards. The palace’s lengthy, two-toned Neoclassical façade is a restrained counterpart to the decadently decorated rooms inside; 40 monumental rooms were built to host royalty and their guests for various occasions. These magnificent rooms are covered with eye-catching Baroque ornamentation and a myriad of artistic details from floor to ceiling. 

The Royal Palace of Caserta sits below a surreal chain of basins and fountains that are fed by a man-made waterfall in the distance. A truly surreal setting, the Royal Park seems to extend to the end of one’s eyesight. Greenery surrounds the two-mile-long promenade and features many Neoclassical fountains filled with mythologically-significant scenes composed of numerous sculptures. 

Built for King Charles of Bourbon in the mid-late 18th century, the Royal Palace of Caserta houses two dozen state apartments, the Palatine Chapel, a large library, many fresco-painted ceilings, and a theater inspired by the Teatro San Carlo of Naples. Despite its enchanting grandeur and scale, it remains to be relatively unknown by name outside of Italy.

Caserta
Standing five stories tall and 810 feet wide, the Royal Palace of Caserta is the largest palace by volume in the world. This view of the back side of the palace only hints at the incredible two-mile-long promenade and waterway that stretch vastly across the Italian landscape like a man-made river adorned by impressive fountains and sculptures that are framed by natural forests. (Carlo Pelagalli/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Caserta
This frontal view of Reggia di Caserta elegantly hints at the grandeur that lies in store for visitors to the Royal Palace. Surrounded by greenery, the palace is equally famous for its massive grounds which cover 300 acres. (Miguel Hermoso Cuesta/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Reggia,Di,Caserta,Royal,Palace,And,Gardens,,Aerial,View.,Caserta,
An aerial view of the palace is necessary to understand its true immensity. Its 1,200 rooms are made possible by the palace’s enormous rectangular plan with four orthogonal arms that create four inner courtyards. (pio3/Shutterstock)
Epoch Times Photo
The palace’s colossal Neoclassical façade features four mighty columns, a pedimented frontispiece, and a domed apse. A long balustrade lines the roof, interrupted only by this central entranceway. (Livioandronico/CC BY-SA 4.0)
Epoch Times Photo
This incredible view from the “Fountain of Venus and Adonis” shows the tremendous scale of the waterway in the Royal Park. Look closely to see the Royal Palace almost two miles away. Believe it or not, this isn’t even the back of the waterway. (Miguel Hermoso Cuesta/CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

Epoch Times Photo
The largest fountain at the Royal Park is the magnificent, Neoclassical “Fountain of Aeolus.” The 262-feet-wide, semicircle fountain is four times larger than Rome’s Trevi Fountain and features dozens of mythologically-themed sculptures framed by arches and water features including a central waterfall. (Miguel Hermoso Cuesta/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Caserta
The “Fountain of Ceres” is one of a string of fountains along the waterway that is fed by the “Great Waterfall” in the distance. This man-made waterfall is fed by the “Acquedotto Carolino,” a 23-mile-long aqueduct that was built to provide water to the palace. The sculptures were made out of Carrara marble and travertine by sculptor Gaetano Salomone. (Miguel Hermoso Cuesta/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Caserta
Entering the Royal Palace, the “Grand Staircase of Honor” is a truly monumental and exquisite architectural feat. The long stairways are lined by walls and columns of colored marble. Arched ceilings soar multiple stories above giving the visitor the sensation of being in a vast open space of great significance. (Anna & Michal/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
Caserta
Walking up the “Grand Staircase of Honor” visitors take in the elegant, Neoclassical detailing of this vast entranceway. Sculptures sit beneath murals and a central dome bordered by ornate detailing. Colored marble accentuates the grand stone interiors while beautifully painted murals stand out representing the heavens above. (Justin Ennis/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
Caserta
The massive arched and ribbed ceiling above the “Grand Staircase of Honor” has an oculus opening and a large central mural in the domed area it creates. From this space, unseen musicians would play music for the king and his guests with the illusion that it was being played by the angels themselves. (Richard Mortel/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
Caserta
The Throne Room is one of 40 large rooms considered to be “monumental” at Caserta’s Royal Palace. This marvel of Italian Baroque architecture features a large arched ceiling covered in elaborate gold-painted stucco work in addition to a large central fresco. Massive doors line the glimmering hall with door handles that are at the height of most people’s heads. (Richard Mortel/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
Epoch Times Photo
The Palatine Chapel is another monumental room at the Royal Palace. Like a magnificent cathedral, large columns line the arcade of this massive space with gold-painted moldings patterning the arched ceiling above. Above the altar, a beautiful domed apse gives the illusion of greater depth and creates a mighty feeling of solemnity. (Sailko/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Caserta
An example of the Baroque decorative rooms at the Royal Palace with all of its myriad details and excessive ornamentation. The entire ceiling is elaborately painted with elements of illusory dimension and windows. Gold-painted borders stretch from floor to ceiling outlining the brightly colored walls and large mirrors and doors. A gaudy, glass chandelier hangs low with multiple colors fighting for the viewer’s attention in this richly Baroque room. (Carlo Dell’Orto/CC BY-SA 4.0)
Jeff Perkin
Jeff Perkin is a graphic artist and integrative nutrition health coach. He can be reached WholySelf.com
You May Also Like