Palazzo Reale

October 27, 2010 / Places
Naples, Campania
palazzoreale3In 1600 Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro heard that his master Philip III of Spain had decided to visit Naples and his first thought was finding a location for the obligatory lavish festivities. One glance at the handful of gloomy castles and fortified houses available told him a new palace was in order. He told Domenico Fontana to design something stunning for the ruler of the Spanish Empire and by 1602 had raised a substantial building that would be the focus of power in the region for nearly four centuries.

Spanish viceroys gave way to Austrian ones; then during the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies the palace was one of four residences used by the Bourbon kings of Naples. palazzoreale2After severe fire damage in 1837 architect Gaetano Genovese undertook a major restoration and expansion, supervising the creation of gardens on the seaward side. Bombing during WWII also took its toll, requiring extensive repair.

Inside the palace rich neoclassical interiors still overwhelm the visitor with their silk hangings, gold leaf, ormolu and stucco, while on the façade eight magnificent statues of the Kings of Naples (added 1888) gaze out onto Piazza del Plebiscito.

Today the palace is the backdrop to ceremonial occasions and public concerts.

And what did Philip III of Spain think of his new building? Alas, he never turned up. But if he hadn’t had the idea of scheduling a visit, Naples would be the poorer by one sumptuous palace.


Penny Ewles-Bergeron

by Penny Ewles-Bergeron

Author, artist… celebrating the many good things in Naples.

9 Responses to “Palazzo Reale”

  1. MaryLou Branson

    Lovely, lovely place. Thank you for writing this. Too many people pay attention just to the trash and traffic in Napoli and miss or avoid the beauty. I love it there – lived in Pozzuoli for a time and miss the warmth of the people still, although I’ve been gone for 15 years now! I visit when I can and envy you living there!!
    When I first arrived, I was shown several houses with water pipes down into the volcano which, it was said proudly, provided the heat for the houses. The Italian Notebook editor wanted an article on that, but I had no pictures or other info, since I leased a villa without such. You might want to look into that and write it up. It certainly fascinated me then!! I did live right above the Solfatara.

  2. john halpin

    Penny, as usual has picked an interesting topic. Maybe, in the next contribution Penny could discuss the secret passageway between the palace and the royal box at the San Carlo Opera house.


  3. Gian Banchero

    When Napoli is good it’s sublime! One always returns to Napoli be it by travel or memory… Even when Napoli isn’t sublime it’s still good.

  4. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Thanks for the interesting suggestions as to topics… Will certainly consider them though I’m not sure how to acquire the photos of either pipes or passageway!
    BTW, that small snap is the fabulous Mr Elton John who gave a free concert in front of the palace as part of the 2009 Piedigrotta Festival. His version of O Sole Mio that night had us and al the Neapolitans enraptured – check on Youtube for various home movies of that moment.

  5. The statues of the Kings along the facade each play a part in a piece of Neapolitan theatre created by the folk to explain their gestures, but I can’t write the dialogue here as it is x rated ! ( I am the wife of a Neapolitan)

  6. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Hi Celia – that I didn’t know! What a pity you can’t elucidate!

  7. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Celia, until I do I shall be examining the statues closely in the hope of decoding them!

  8. Enjoy living in this wonderful city which I will always defend , full of life, love and dare I say it my favourite Italian food!


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