The Palazzo Reale di Napoli tells the story of the Bourbon dynasty
The intricately decorated halls of the Palazzo Reale di Napoli can impress even seasoned travelers.
Palazzo Reale di Napoli was built in the first half of the 17th century by order of the Viceroy of Naples Fernando Ruiz de Castro and designed by architect Domenico Fontano. The Baroque palace was not without reason called the Royal Palace. It was intended for visits to the city by the Spanish King Philip III and his family. However, he never visited Naples, and in the palace began to live the Viceroy.
Highlights of the history of the palace
Since then, Palazzo Reale has replaced several masters – Spanish viceroys, Austrian rulers, members of the Bourbon dynasty, and Savoy monarchs. A noticeable contribution to the further upgrading was made by the Neapolitan royal couple – Marshal Murat and Napoleon’s sister Caroline, who ruled the city in 1808-15. During this period, some details of the interior decoration of the Tuileries Palace in Paris were transferred here.
The fire of 1837 caused considerable damage to the palace. The extensive restoration and enlargement that followed, under the direction of Gaetano Genovese, gave it its present neoclassical appearance. The palace got a new wing and a sea-facing façade with a belvedere tower. During the same period, the fountain with the statue of Fortuna was built in the courtyard. At the end of the nineteenth century, at the command of the king of Savoy, Umberto I, eight statues of Neapolitan rulers were placed in the niches of the east main façade and considerably decorated it.
The building was considerably damaged by the bombardments of the last world war. Fortunately, the restoration restored it back to its former appearance.
The palace nowadays
Since the beginning of the 19th century the National Library occupies the main part of the Palais Royal, built on 3 floors. The Biblioteca Nazionale is especially famous for the unique collection of papyrus from Herculaneum, which survived the eruption of Vesuvius. Some of the rooms of the palace are occupied by the local social institutions. The most beautiful rooms of the 2nd floor are open for tourist visits. They function Il museo appartamenti storici (Museum of Historical Apartments).
The palace is located in the main town square Piazza del Plebescito. On both sides of the palace gates on pedestals are famous statues of Clodt “tamer horses”, similar to those on the Anichkov Bridge in St. Petersburg. These sculptures were a present to the King of Naples by the Russian Emperor Nicholas I, who stayed with him in 1845.
The grand staircase with its tracery railing is decorated with allegorical bas-reliefs and beautiful ornaments dominated by pinkish marble.
The museum exposition is placed in numerous halls connected by a gallery. In the museum you can see the paintings of famous Italian painters – Titian, Giordano, Gvercino and others. There is also a portrait of Nicholas I by Aivazovsky. But real works of art are also the halls, where the paintings are located.
The exquisite paintings on the ceilings and walls, ceiling moldings, beautiful tapestries, huge chandeliers, and vases make a strong impression. The Sala centrale, La sala del trono and the rooms of Hercules, the Ambassadors and Maria Cristina of Savoy are particularly beautiful. The palace had a chapel, and even a theater. In the Court Cappella Palatina the beauty of the altar in bronze and the carefully chosen semi-precious stones is stunning.
After visiting the halls on the 2nd floor and making a circle, visitors return to the grand staircase, which was the starting point for the tour of the inner rooms.
Visiting the palace in Naples
The Palazzo Reale is open to visitors daily, except on Wednesdays, from 9:00 to 20:00 hours. You can walk there from the metro station Piazza Amedeo, or take the R2 bus to the San Carlo stop. The central entrance from Piazza del Plebescito is often closed. In such cases, the entrance is from Piazza Trieste e Trento. The ticket price, 4 EUR, is very modest compared to the experience that awaits the tourist.
Tourists who see the palace from the outside and the somewhat heavy (169 m) long facade won’t see the main attraction of Naples. The splendid interior of the Palazzo Reale is admirable even against the backdrop of its many Italian beauties.
This is a great way to go to the Royal Palace (Italy, Naples) – it’s not as far from the Hermitage but it takes much less time to get around.
This is a great city for culture, history, and art. There is also the Royal Palace in Naples which is the former residence of the monarchs of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies from the Bourbon dynasty. The palace was built in the 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana and then it changed its appearance several times, was reconstructed, expanded, burned and restored after a fire. On our first Neapolitan visit in the spring we did not have enough time to visit the palace, but in the fall we have already corrected this mistake. The Royal Palace is located in the large and beautiful Piazza Plebiscito, not far from the seafront.
It was supposed to be a spacious palace with colonnades and loggias, with an excellent view of the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius volcano.
I believe that all these ideas have come to fruition.
The external appearance of the palace does not make a grandiose impression in contrast to its luxurious interior decoration. Only the huge statues in the niches of the facade attract attention. They were installed in 1888 and represent the eight most important rulers of Naples.
The entrance to the palace is in the left wing on the theater side, but sometimes the main central entrance is also open. Tickets cost 6 euros. Unfortunately, there is no audio guide in Russian, so we just walked around and admired the interiors and works of art unaccompanied.
So, start your excursion around the palace. For that, we pass through the courtyard and get to the majestic broad staircase, which was built of white marble in 1651 by architect Francesco Antonio Picchiatti. This staircase leads to the second floor, where the royal apartments are located. The staircase is very beautiful; it is decorated with fanciful bas-reliefs and openwork marble railings.
The high vaults of the ceilings are also decorated with various bas-reliefs and decorative elements, and all this creates the effect of light lace and snow-white weightlessness.
Thirty halls of the palace are open to the public. In these halls, the original interiors and furniture of the kings, as well as the luxuries of those times, have been preserved. The interior decoration is luxurious and each room is a work of art in itself. Many of the rooms have names, such as the Throne Room, the Hercules Room, the Maria Cristina Chapel, the Dining Room, the Diplomatic Room, the Central Room with the balcony on which the royal couple used to go before the public during the celebrations. The palace also has its own Court Theater. This is where the tour of the palace begins. Because of poor lighting photos of the theater did not turn out well.
Well, we go into the first halls, which immediately delight with their decoration. Watch the magnificent high painted ceilings, from which hang huge elegant chandeliers.
There are many huge, luxurious mirrors everywhere, on which stand equally luxurious porcelain Chinese vases and gilded candelabrums.
There are many gilded bronze clocks of various forms, consoles, paintings, as well as sumptuous tapestries.
Some halls are truly turned into an art gallery and you can see a unique collection of paintings by such artists as Titian, Guercino, Giordano, and many others. I especially liked the hall with the portraits.
In addition, in the palace is the National Library with the famous papyruses from Herculaneum.
You couldn’t sit on the thrones, but I wanted to! In the palace unfortunately there are no seats, and it’s very difficult to walk for a long time with your head held aloft while looking at the magnificent frescoes on the ceilings and domes.
Each room has its own collection of works, somewhere it is a Dutch still life, somewhere scenes from rural life or views of cities with their inhabitants .
In several rooms there are huge tapestries depicting scenes from people’s lives, and some of them depict biblical scenes.
But the Palace Chapel was closed and we could not admire it, although some people tried.
One of the oldest halls of the palace is the Hall of Hercules. It is very elegant and spacious, since the 18th century balls were held here. The hall got its name because many sculptures used to be placed there and the most famous one was the sculpture of Hercules.
In general, there’s a lot to admire in the palace. Even the doors are beautiful works of art.
History of the Royal Palace in Naples is also interesting because it is associated with the Russian tsars. In 1717, crown prince Alexei, son of Peter the Great, hid here. In 1845 Naples was visited by Tsar Nicholas I and his wife, who later thanked the Neapolitan king Ferdinand for the good reception and sent as a gift the sculptures “tamer horses” by Clodt. The horses still decorate the entrance to the Royal Gardens.
We liked the tour of the palace, it was not too tedious, inexpensive and introduces a little bit of the life of the Neapolitan kings, so I will recommend a visit to the Royal Palace in Naples.