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The town of Caserta is situated about 25 kilometres north of Naples, in south-western Italy. It is well known for the immense baroque style Royal Palace.
The Royal Palace at Caserta is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit the Royal Palace at Caserta
There is one big attraction that brings the crowds to Caserta - the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace, and also known as the Reggia di Caserta). Dating from the middle of the 18th century, building started in 1752 and took more than 20 years to complete. It is now a major tourist attraction in the south of Italy.
With its 250 metre long facade, the Royal Palace of Caserta is the biggest palace in Italy and was built for the ruler of Naples at that time, the bourbon King Charles III, to a design by Luigi Vanvitelli.
Even as you approach the Royal Palace you are overwhelmed by its size, but when you enter the enormous entrances and staircases are still a surprise. Of course, it is hard to imagine why even the most royal of royals might think they needed quite such an excessive palace but I would like to have one of those staircases in my own house though.
The Palace at Caserta features a mind-boggling number of grand rooms, monumental staircases and luxuriously appointed apartments. There are apparently more than 1200 rooms, but who is ever going to to check! Imagine the Palace of Versailles transplanted to southern Italy and you won't be far wrong - indeed it was Versailles itself that inspired the design of the building.
The rooms are, as you would expect, richly decorated to 18th century royal tastes and hung with lots of paintings of the great and the good of the time. It is true that after a while you get the impression that a smaller palace with fewer, but more exceptional, artworks might be easier to take in than the endless opulence of Caserta...
The palace has gained new enthusiasts in recent decades, having been used as a setting for Queen Amidala's home in the Star wars films 'The Phantom Menace' and 'Attack of the Clones'. I am embarrassed to admit I didn't know this until I was told!
Parks and gardens
The park around the Caserta Royal Palace is just as grandiose - more than three kilometres long and with a large number of separate gardens, water features, statuary ornaments, lakes etc. as well as a very highly regarded English style garden.
The garden is certainly very well maintained and has plenty of features to admire but avoids the ostentation of the Caserta Palace and might well be the highlight of your visit.
Note: the main photo is the main hall and one of the staircases of the Caserta Royal Palace.
Places to visit near Caserta
- There is an attractive 12th century cathedral and the ruins of an even older castle a few kilometres north at Caserta Vecchia
- The Roman ruins at Santa Maria Capua Vetere include an impressive amphitheatre
You can find more local travel ideas in the Campania guide.