Italy: Wandering the Royal Palace at Caserta

The Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy

The Royal Palace at Caserta was built in the 18th century by Charles Bourbon who wanted to get out of Naples where he was the ruler, mainly because it was in danger of being attacked by the British.

Like many another European monarch he also wanted to build something to mirror the palace at Versailles. How many times have you visited  palaces in Europe and heard from the guide that it was built to rival Versailles!

A lot of kings with inferiority complexes if you ask me. Although, in fact Caserta was one of the largest buildings put up during the 18th century in Europe.

The Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy

The palace is strictly classical in style, despite being built in the Baroque era of over-the-top decoration. It has vast marble staircases, echoing antechambers, grandiose throne rooms hung with Murano glass chandeliers and luxurious private apartments.
The Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy

But Charles was forced to implement austerity measures during the building of Caserta – the floors are painted terracotta rather than expensive marble.

The gardens are grand beyond belief. The water feature to end all water feature stretches far up the hill to where the forest starts (Charles initially used Caserta as a hunting lodge).

The Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy

The Cascade is a glory of frolicking white figures and trickling water. The hydraulics alone are mind-boggling. There are follies and ponds lushly full of water lilies and secret ferny corners.

The Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy

Also part of the Unesco World Heritage Site designated complex is the ‘new town’ laid out at San Leucio by Charles on an adjoining piece of land. Again he wanted to establish something to rival the great European cities.

The Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy

San Leucio was subsequently turned into a silk factory by Ferdinand IV. Astoundingly for this time Ferdinand, influenced by liberal ideals spreading from France, sought to establish a ‘free’ city, with a workers code and greater equality between men and women.

The Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy

This sort of proto-socialism was unfortunately brought to an end by the invasion of the French but the silk factory has been reignited and is operating again, producing beautiful silk items.

By Natasha von Geldern

Have you visited the Royal Palace at Caserta?

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The Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy

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About Natasha von Geldern

Natasha von Geldern is the World Wandering Kiwi, a freelance travel writer, editor and inveterate traveller who is passionate about making the pages of the atlas real one trip at a time.


  1. Great pix. How did you make all the other tourists get out of your photo frame?
    Italian Notes recently posted..Pasta with dried tomatoesMy Profile

    • Natasha von Geldern says:

      I think it was midweek, and I remember it being blazing hot so all sensible people were indoors, only us – a group of anglos – were still soldiering on!!

  2. Incredible pictures, love the long shot of the gardens, looks like a very cool place, cheers.
    Will Peach recently posted..Glasgow’s Best Day ToursMy Profile

  3. Ha, I’ve always thought kings had inferiority complexes as well. But dang, those are some nice gardens!
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..B&B Review: Marian Lodge Guesthouse in GalwayMy Profile

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