Are you a fan of history and luxurious royal residences? Do you want to immerse yourself in colossal green gardens with ornamental fountains and step back in time to peek into the lives of the Bourbon Royals? Well, in this case visiting the Royal Palace of Caserta (Reggia di Caserta), undoubtedly one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, is a must. We’ve compiled a guide on how to visit Caserta Royal Palace: its history, best things to see, practical information, and tips.
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Table of Contents
- 1 History of Caserta Royal Palace
- 2 Is Caserta Royal Palace Worth Visiting?
- 3 Best Things To See at Caserta Royal Palace
- 4 The Royal Palace of Caserta in Films
- 5 How to get to Caserta Royal Palace
- 6 Practical Information for Visiting the Royal Palace of Caserta
- 7 Tips for Visiting Caserta Royal Palace
- 8 Accommodation for Visiting Caserta Royal Palace
- 9 More Information About Italy
History of Caserta Royal Palace
The history of the Royal Palace of Caserta is a long and intriguing one. In the mid-18th century, the Bourbon king, Charles VII of Naples (Charles III of Spain) decided he wanted a magnificent new royal court and administrative center for the Bourbon-Two Sicilies dynasty.
Charles wanted a location more secure than the palace in Naples which the English fleet had threatened to bombard only a few years previously. He also desired a location that offer protection in the event of an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and one which would serve as a refuge from the political machinations of untrustworthy courtiers in Naples.
Savvy and cultured, Charles was one of the 18th century’s most enlightened monarchs. He wanted to build a palace complex rivaling that of his grandfather — who happened to be Louis XIV, the creator of the Palace of Versailles.
The architect Charles chose for his ambitious project was Luigi Vanvitelli, a native Neapolitan and son of Dutch painter Gaspar Van Wittel. In 1750 Vanvitelli was commissioned to make a survey of the land in Caserta, 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from Naples.
Though Vanvitelli also worked on the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Royal Palace of Naples, the Caserta Royal Palace is considered his magnum opus. His superb and daring design for the palace immediately won the monarch’s support.
The first stone of the Caserta Royal Palace was laid in 1752. The construction of the palace slowed down after 1759 when Charles unexpectedly had to abdicate his throne to return to Madrid to be crowned King of Spain.
After Luigi Vanvitelli died in 1773, the palace’s construction was overseen by his son Carlo. However, due to financial problems, the construction of the palace languished and it was only finally completed in 1845.
The result was nothing short of majestic and is an elegant mix of Baroque and Neoclassical styles. With a surface area of 47,000 m² spread over five floors, the Royal Palace of Caserta is one of the largest royal residences in the world. Even if you’re not an architecture buff, it will awe you.
The Caserta Royal Palace has a staggering 1200 rooms, 34 staircases, and features four inner courtyards. At the rear of the palace, there’s a massive landscaped park.
The monarchs of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies used the palace as their residence until 1861 when it passed into the hands of the House of Savoy after the fall of the kingdom and Italian unification. In 1919, King Victor Emmanuel III donated it to the Italian state.
From 1926 to 1943, the Caserta Royal Palace was home to the Italian Air Force Academy and in the latter stages of World War II, the palace served as the Allied command headquarters. In August 1943, American troops bombed the palace complex, and as a result, parts of the palace were damaged.
On April 29, 1945, the written agreement (Surrender of Caserta) that formalized the surrender of German forces in Italy, was signed at the Royal Palace of Caserta.
After the end of the war, extensive restoration work was carried out on the palace and the gardens. In 1997, the Caserta Royal Palace was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Is Caserta Royal Palace Worth Visiting?
YES! The Royal Palace of Caserta is absolutely worth visiting and can amaze even the most demanding visitors. If you’re visiting South Italy, you should definitely make it a priority to visit this marvelous palace.
A triumph of late Italian Baroque architecture that is stunning both for its massive size and ornate style, the Caserta Royal Palace certainly lives up to its moniker of the “Versailles of Italy.” It is impossible not to be fascinated by the palace’s architecture, artwork, period furnishings, spectacular gardens, and statues.
Though well known to Italians, Caserta Royal Palace remains largely off the radar of most international tourists and isn’t overrun with tourist hordes like Europe’s other great palaces. Consequently, you’ll be to enjoy the splendors of the palace in relative peace.
Best Things To See at Caserta Royal Palace
The following are the highlights of the Royal Palace of Caserta you shouldn’t miss.
1. Grand Staircase
The most impressive part of the Caserta Royal Palace interior for me is the Grand Staircase. It is composed of a central ramp that splits into two parallel staircases at the landing.
The staircase is a tour de force of monumental architecture and is a foretaste of what you will find in the palace. It is decorated in white Carrara marble with elegant arches, statues, and marble lions.
The three niches of the rear wall contain huge sculptures of Charles VII of Naples, merit, and truth. I love how the pair of fierce-looking marble lions stand sentinel on the stairway landing.
Don’t forget to look up and appreciate the massive ribbed ceiling overlooking the staircase that features a large fresco in its oculus.
It’s not surprising to see why the grand staircase has been an inspiration for many future staircases. Furthermore, the Grand Staircase provides an ideal setting if you’re looking to add some eye-catching shots to your Instagram feed.
2. Palatine Chapel
Across from the top of the Grand Staircase is the Palatine Chapel, which Charles VII wanted to resemble the chapel at Versailles. The Neoclassical chapel boasts Renaissance, Mannerist, and Baroque influences.
The Palatine Chapel was badly damaged due to bombing during World War II, destroying its ceiling, walls, and priceless pieces of art. It has since been restored to its former glory.
The blend of stucco and marble textures with pale gold and dark red tones lends the chapel a resplendent look. Look out for The Immaculate Conception by Giuseppe Bonito, which hangs over the altar.
3. Royal Apartments
A must-see in the Royal Palace of Caserta is the richly decorated royal apartments. The internal layout of the royal apartments includes long enfilades of sumptuous halls.
Caserta is a pretty over-the-top palace, which gives you a glimpse of how wealthy and powerful the Kingdom of Naples was. Jacky and I were in awe of the marble floors, silk wallpaper, ornate ceilings, Murano chandeliers, intricate frescoes, stellar friezes, and exquisite furniture in the giant rooms, some of which are encrusted in gold leaf.
Some of the best rooms include the Astrea Room (Sala di Astrea), the Mars Room (Sala di Marte), the Council Room (Sala del Consiglio), and the Alexander Room (Sala di Alessandro).
Five antechambers lead to the Throne Room (Sala del Trono), undoubtedly the pièce de résistance of the Royal Apartments. At 40 meters in length, it is the largest room in the Caserta Royal Palace and its walls are lined by 28 fluted twin Corinthian columns.
Don’t forget to admire the massive ceiling fresco of The Laying of the First Stone of the Royal Palace of Caserta, by Gennaro Maldarelli in 1844. Also of note are the superbly carved gilded throne and the room’s frieze containing medallions of the kings of Naples.
The Palatine Library is also worth seeing. Furnished with oak and mahogany, the library consists of five rooms, two antechambers, and additional three rooms that house the extensive book collection of over 14,000 volumes of diverse subjects.
The vaulted ceilings of the library rooms feature floral motifs and ornate frescoes. You’ll also come across a couple of globes, a brass telescope, and two barometers.
The Royal Apartments are also home to an often-overlooked collection of 19th-century portrait and landscape paintings, and modern art.
4. Court Theater
Located on the ground floor, the Court Theater in the Royal Palace of Caserta is a smaller replica of the famous Teatro San Carlo opera house in Naples. It is the only part of the palace completed by Luigi Vanvitelli himself.
Its horseshoe-shaped auditorium was inaugurated in 1769 by Ferdinand IV and has been assiduously restored to its original form.
5. The Park
The grandiose theatricality of the Caserta Royal Palace is replicated in the palace’s magnificent park, one of the most beautiful parks in Europe. The first thing you notice as you enter the park is its immense scale.
Designed by Luigi Vanvitelli in Baroque style, the park grounds cover over 121 hectares (300 acres). The distance from the palace to the end of the park is about three kilometers (1.9 miles).
The park’s long central avenue is designed on descending levels, creating a remarkable cascading effect with pools and five fountains filled with numerous sculptures from Greco-Roman mythology. I really enjoyed strolling down the path and admiring the splendid fountains and water features.
The string of fountains and even the palace itself, draw its water from Vanvitelli’s Caroline Aqueduct, one of the great feats of 18th-century engineering. Two of the standouts are the Fountain of Ceres and the Fountain of Aeolus—the largest fountain in the park.
Greenery surrounds the two long, parallel avenues and along the way, there are a multitude of paths that can be explored. When you make your way to the end, you can take in the beauty of the splendid Fountain of Diana and Actaeon. From here, you can also take in the glorious view leading up to the palace.
In the top right corner of the park, is the entrance to the alluring 65-acre English Garden, one of the earliest examples of its style in Europe. The garden was built in the 1780s, fuelled by the desires of Maria Carolina, the sister of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.
The English Garden’s gorgeous landscape of rolling hills, rare botanical species of plants, grottoes, fake ruins, tree-shrouded lakes, and melancholic follies was masterfully crafted to evoke romantic notions.
The Royal Palace of Caserta in Films
Due to its impressive interiors and grandeur, the Caserta Royal Palace has been used as a filming location in many movies. The palace most famously featured as Queen Amidala’s royal palace on Naboo in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002).
Some other movies filmed at Caserta Royal Palace include Anzio (1968), Waterloo (1970), Mission: Impossible III (2006), and Angels & Demons (2009).
How to get to Caserta Royal Palace
How to get to Caserta Royal Palace from Naples By Train
Caserta makes for an easy day trip from Naples. If you’re keen on using public transport, the best way to get to Caserta Royal Palace from Naples is by train.
Simply take one of the regional trains operated by Trenitalia from Naples Central Train Station (Napoli Centrale) at Piazza Garibaldi and get off at Caserta Train Station. The Royal Palace of Caserta is only a 5-minute walk from the station.
There are multiple connections from Naples to Caserta, with 1-2 trains departing every hour. It takes about 45 mins by train from Naples to Caserta.
A one-way ticket costs 3.70 EUR. Tickets can be purchased online or from one of the Trenitalia ticket machines at the train station.
How to get to Caserta Royal Palace from Naples By Bus
An alternative is to take the bus from Naples to the Royal Palace of Caserta. The ATC bus (Napoli-Caserta-Capua) is the one to take and the travel time from Naples to Caserta is about 50 minutes. The bus stops right opposite the Caserta Royal Palace.
Buses run at least once every hour. You can check the ATC bus timetable here. Tickets cost about 3 EUR and the tickets can be bought on the bus.
How to get to Caserta Royal Palace from Naples By Car
To reach Caserta Royal Palace by car from Naples, get on the A3 from Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. Then, take the A1/E45 to SS Sannitica before taking the Caserta Sud Marcianise exit. Next, take Viale Carlo III and then Viale Vittoria Veneto to reach the palace.
The driving distance from Naples to Caserta is 30 kilometers (19 miles) and the journey takes about 30-40 minutes, depending on the traffic. Keep in mind that the motorway has tolls. There are several parking options nearby.
How to get to Caserta Royal Palace from Rome
You can also visit Caserta Royal Palace on a day trip from Rome. It’ll make for a pretty long day, but you can do it.
The best way to get from Rome to Caserta Royal Palace is by train. You can either take a direct train from Roma Termini Station to Caserta or take a train to Napoli Centrale, and then take the train option to Caserta as mentioned above.
Just make sure you choose a high-speed train from Rome to Naples and not a regional one, as you have a long day ahead of you and you don’t want to spend it perched on trains. Check Trenitalia for tickets.
The most hassle-free way to take a day trip from Rome to Caserta Royal Palace is to take a fully guided day tour. It’s an all-in-one solution that manages the logistics and includes a guide so you can simply enjoy the experience. A highly rated tour I can recommend is a Caserta Royal Palace full-day trip from Rome with skip-the-line tickets.
Practical Information for Visiting the Royal Palace of Caserta
1. What are the opening hours of Caserta Royal Palace?
The Caserta Royal Palace is open Wednesday–Monday from 08:30-19:30 (last entry is at 18:00). The palace is closed on 1st January, 1st May, and 25th December.
The Caserta Royal Palace Park is also open Wednesday–Monday all year round and is closed on 1st January, 1st May, and 25th December. It operates different opening hours throughout the year.
The opening hours of the Caserta Royal Palace Park are January: 08:30-16:00; February: 08:30-16:30; March: 08:30-17:00; April–September: 08:30-19:00; October: 08:30-17:30; November & December: 08:30-15:30. The English Garden closes always closes one before the park’s closing time.
Keep in mind that the last entry to the park is always one hour before closing time.
The Court Theater is open Saturday-Sunday from 10:00-13:00.
2. How much does it cost to visit Caserta Royal Palace and where can I buy tickets?
Tickets to the Caserta Royal Palace and the Park costs 19 EUR for adults. Concessions are available under certain conditions. Admission is also free for kids under 18.
Tickets to the Royal Palace of Caserta can be purchased online on TicketOne.it, the official ticket seller for the palace.
You can also get admission for just the Caserta Royal Palace Park, which costs 10 EUR.
It is also possible to purchase tickets directly from the Caserta Royal Palace ticket office. However, to avoid long queues at the ticket counter, it is highly recommended to book your tickets online in advance.
Entrance to Caserta Royal Palace (the Royal Apartments) is free on the first Sunday of every month. However, unless you are on a tight budget, you should avoid visiting on this day as it can get pretty crowded.
3. Do you need a guide to visit Caserta Royal Palace?
There’s no prerequisite to having a guide to visit Caserta Royal Palace. Upon entry, you’re provided with a map so you’re free to investigate the grounds on your own.
However, if you want to listen to amusing anecdotes and get all the back history and information about what you’re seeing, I certainly recommend getting a guide. You can also pick the guide’s brain with any questions you have. You can book your guided tour here.
4. How long does it take to visit Caserta Royal Palace?
The Caserta Royal Palace and its park are immense, so it takes at least 5-6 hours to see it all. The visit to the Royal Apartments lasts about 2 hours and it takes 3-4 hours to see the palace park properly.
5. When is the best time to visit the Royal Palace of Caserta?
The Caserta Royal Palace is a year-round destination. However, it is recommended that you visit the palace during the spring and summer months when the park is in full bloom and at its most picturesque.
The best time to tour the Royal Apartments is right after opening time or in the late afternoon.
6. Is there luggage storage inside Caserta Royal Palace?
Yes. There is a luggage storage service near the ticket office. The service is free.
7. Are there restrooms in Caserta Royal Palace?
There are toilets on the ground floor near the ticket office, inside the Royal Apartments, and in the park. Just look for the “WC” signs.
8. Is the Royal Palace of Caserta wheelchair accessible?
Yes, the palace is accessible by wheelchair. You can also request a wheelchair at the ticket counter.
9. Are pets allowed at Caserta Royal Palace?
No, pets are forbidden to enter the Caserta Royal Palace with the exception of guide dogs for the blind and “service dogs” for assistance to people with disabilities.
Tips for Visiting Caserta Royal Palace
Here are some things you need to know before you visit Caserta Royal Palace.
- The Royal Palace of Caserta and its park are huge. Be prepared for a long walk and make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes.
- In warm weather, bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a water bottle.
- It takes 35-40 minutes to walk the length of the park which can be a tiring walk. Thus, it might be a good idea to take the paid bus shuttle (2.50 EUR return) to the end of the park, especially if you are traveling with small children. You can also rent a bike (4 EUR/hr).
- There are two cafeterias on site, one near the ticket office and the other at the end of the park. However, they are quite pricey for what you get. Hence, it would be a good idea to bring your own food. You can also pick up some food and beverages from cafés and restaurants in Caserta.
Accommodation for Visiting Caserta Royal Palace
If you’re looking for a base to explore the sumptuous palace, we’ve compiled a list of good options.
Naples: Costantinopoli 104, a great choice in the historic center of Naples
Rome: Hotel Nord Nuova Roma, a solid option next to Roma Termini Station (Rome’s main railway station)
Caserta: Hotel Royal Caserta, a fantastic choice next to Caserta Train Station and just 300 m from the royal palace
More Information About Italy
Now, what do you think? Is visiting Caserta Royal Palace on your bucket list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Hello there, fellow globetrotters! I’m Mihir, a passionate travel blogger with an insatiable wanderlust. My journey across the world is fueled by curiosity and a hunger for unique experiences. As a travel writer, photographer, and adventurer, I’ve explored more than 35 countries, aiming to provide readers with a distinctive glimpse of our diverse world. Join me as I blend captivating storytelling with stunning visuals, guiding you through hidden gems and cultural treasures. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, and Australian Rules Football (Go Dons!).