Royal Palace of Naples

Palace in Naples

Il Palazzo Reale, Naples
CC BY-SA 3.0 / pietro scerrato

The Royal Palace of Naples, or Palazzo Reale di Napoli, is an emblematic palace and museum located in the heart of Naples, Italy. Serving as a key historical and tourist destination, this grand structure was one of four residences used by the House of Bourbon during their reign over the Kingdom of Naples (1735-1816) and the subsequent Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1816-1861). The other residences include the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte, and Portici.

Historical Development of the Royal Palace of Naples

Originally built on the site of a former residence of Viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo, the construction of the current palace began in the 17th century, spearheaded by architect Domenico Fontana. Though initially intended to accommodate King Philip III of Spain, the palace primarily served viceroys, starting with Fernando Ruiz de Castro in the early 1600s. The façade and interiors, adorned with frescoes by notable artists like Battistello Caracciolo and Belisario Corenzio, were completed by 1620, with further embellishments continuing into the mid-17th century.

The palace became the official royal residence under Charles III of Spain in 1734, marking a significant era of renovation and expansion. Architects Giovanni Antonio Medrano and later Ferdinando Fuga played crucial roles during these transformations, which included the addition of a new wing housing the Vittorio Emanuele III National Library by the late 18th century.

Architectural and Artistic Significance of the Royal Palace of Naples

Throughout its history, the Royal Palace underwent various modifications, including neoclassical decorations and furnishings added during the Napoleonic occupation by Joachim Murat and Caroline Bonaparte. A fire in 1837 led to extensive restorations by Gaetano Genovese, and by 1925, the palace also became home to the National Library’s extensive collections.

The palace’s rich decor and strategic architectural enhancements, such as the court theater and the great hall, reflect its importance as a center of political power and cultural life in Naples.

Statues of Kings of Naples

An intriguing feature of the Royal Palace is the array of statues along the western façade, overlooking Piazza del Plebiscito. These statues, commissioned by King Umberto I in 1888, represent prominent rulers of Naples, starting from Roger the Norman to Vittorio Emanuele II. Sculptors such as Emilio Franceschi and Francesco Jerace brought these historical figures to life, although it’s notable that none of the Bourbon rulers, except Charles III (under his Spanish title), are represented among these figures.

Contemporary Use of the Royal Palace of Naples

Today, the Royal Palace of Naples serves multiple functions: it houses the Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte, the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and various offices, including those of the regional tourist board. Despite suffering damage during World War II and subsequent military occupations, the palace remains a testament to the rich history and cultural legacy of Naples, attracting visitors from around the world to its museum and library, and continuing to play a pivotal role in the cultural and tourist activities of the city.


The Royal Palace of Naples appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Naples!

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Visiting Royal Palace of Naples

Hours:

Thursday to Tuesday: 9 am to 8 pm.

Closed Wednesdays.


Price:

Adults: € 10 (£ 8.60). Young people between 18 and 24 years old: € 2 (£ 1.70). Children under 18 years old: free entry.

Address: Royal Palace of Naples, Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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