Caserta and its Royal Palace

Caserta and its Royal Palace

The city of Caserta developed around the famous Bourbon castle, which altered the name of a small, medieval centre located on a nearby hill, today known as Caserta Vecchia.
The Royal Palace and the ancient district, as well as Belvedere di San Leucio, are compulsory visits to discover the treasures of the city.
The Royal Palace was designed, on the order of Charles of Bourbon, by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli to celebrate the European importance of the Kingdom of Naples. Work began in 1752 and lasted twenty-two years. The result is a palace covering a surface area of over 45,000 metres squared, divided among four courtyards, 1,200 rooms on 5 floors, 34 stairs, 1,970 windows and a garden with a fountain supplied by a purpose built aqueduct (the Carolino aqueduct measuring 41 kilometres).
The Royal Palace is a real work of architectural and decorative art: moving inside, you will be amazed by the continuous works of art, the stucco, bas-reliefs, frescoes, sculptures and floor inlay. The main door leads to the majestic atrium. From here, climbing the main staircase, you reach the Palatine Chapel and the sumptuous royal apartments. The large rooms host paintings by artists from the period and Rococo and Neo-Classic furniture.
In Caserta you should also visit the ancient residence of Acquaviva d'Aragona, in Piazza Vanvitelli, the Neo-Classic cathedral and the Church of St. Augustine in Viale Mazzini, which hosts works by Giacinto Diano, Domenico Mondo, Bardellino and Antonio Dominici.
A visit to the Casertine chief town is not complete without a walk around the medieval district ofCaserta Vecchia and Belvedere di San Leucio.
The old town is a picturesque labyrinth of little streets that lead to the rectangular square that hosts the cathedral, the Palazzo Vescovile, the Seminary and the Casa Canonica, almost forming a closed courtyard.
In San Leucio, instead, you can still see signs of the project desired by Ferdinand IV in 1789: he wanted to transform the Belvedere hunting lodge into a silk factory, creating a real “palace-spinning mill” which would have hosted the royal apartments, the spinning wheels and the machines to produce silk. Today, on entering Belvedere di San Leucio, you can visit the royal rooms, the ancient factory and its silk mill, which have been fully renovated, powered by the big water wheel.
A visit to San Leucio is even more picturesque during the month of July, on occasion of the festivities in honour of Madonna SS. delle Grazie, when all the locals dress up and live like in the past, presenting a historic court, with a series of banners and groups dressed in costume, accompanied by eighteenth-century music.