Caserta Fontana Diana Atteone Statue 948x678, Unofficial Website of the Royal Palace of Caserta

The Fountains of the Palace of Caserta

The fountains and the waterway are the synthesis of three centuries of landscaping


The fountains waterway crosses the second part of the Park, in the middle of an avenue which goes up to the surrounding hills thanks to a natural slope. The two lateral streets are lined with holm oaks characterized by a double height, in a typical form called “Chair-like”. The tree lines design a straight way up to the extreme geographical and perspective limit of the park that is Briano Mountain. Here there is a waterfall comes from the Caroline aqueduct, feeding the waterway. The rectilinear canal shows a discontinuous and varied articulation, alternating big basins, little waterfalls and wide segments of grassland. This solution, together with the slope, creates an optical artifice that makes the street seems shorter than its real length (around 3 km). This shows Vanvitelli’s scenographic capabilities to manipulate the perspective creating the effect of an illusionist place. The most evocative aspects of the waterway, apart from its wonderful landscape component, are the fountains, decorated with a very rich sculptural apparatus.

The distance seems very short, but in fact is over 2km! The Vanvitelli’s optical illusions!


The Fountain of the three Dolphins represents the a sea monster with the head of a dolphin, flanked by two smaller ones. The sculptures, made of Bellona’s travertine, were made by Gaetano Salomone between 1776 and 1779. As the Royal Archive testifies, their design belongs to Carlo Vanvitelli, who reworked those of his father Luigi. From the mouth of each sea monster come out a little waterfall falling into the pool (470×27 meters with a depth of 3m). In the background a rusticated listing creates the effect of natural but stylized rocks,and behind the wall there is an hidden cavern with seats.In 1781 King Ferdinand IV made ​​a great party illuminating the streets from the palace to this fountain.


From the Fountain of the three Dolphins, following the waterway we arrive to the Fountain of Aeolus. It represents the god of winds, Aeolus, that urged by goddess Juno, stir up the fury of the winds against Aeneas and the Trojans. The statues were made by Gaetano Salomone, Brunelli, Violani, Persico and Solari. It’s adorned with 28 statues instead of the 54 ones of the original design. This is one of unfinished works of the park:the original project, as seen in wooden model crafted directly by Vanvitelli, should include a large group of sculptures of Aeolus and Juno on a chariot pulled by peacocks, but it was never made.The sculptures of Juno and the peacocks are currently at the entrance to the office of the Superintendence.Likewise, in the basin of the fountain, which represents the sea of the Aeolian islands, three islands had to be made ​​depicting the headlands Sicilian Pelorus, Pachino and Lilibeo. Of the three planned only the first two were made devoid of statuary. In origin the statues were “sprung out of water” through a lead pipeline and pouring it into the basin below to create the waves of the stormy sea. A waterfall falls down the spectacular arched hemicycle surround the fountain from above.


The fountain depicts Ceres, goddess of the fertility of the fields, surrounded by nymphs, cupids, couples of tritons and two dolphins playing the bugle. The goddess maintains the medallion of Trinacria and on either side are represented in the form of male deities, the two Sicilians’ rivers Anapo (the old Alfeo) and the Arethusa, the nymph of Diana transformed into a source to escape the love of Alpheus, who wanted to transform himself in a river to reach his beloved.Originally Ceres had his head adorned with ears of wheat, while the Nereids were holding the ears of bronze, which were removed during the French occupation. The magnificent sculptural composition has a triangular shape,and was made between 1783 and 1785 by Gaetano Salomone using Carrara marble and travertine.


The group of sculptures adorning this fountain, represents the scene when Venus in vain imploring Adonis to don’t go hunting,and to be careful of the savage animals like lions and wild boars, to avoid him his tragic fate. Around the young man, dogs are joyful for the coming hunt, while hiding on a rock there is a wild boar that after will mortally wound Adonis. A crowd of nymphs and cupids shares the despair of the goddess,who rushed to Adonis’s help. This group, both mild and lively, was made by Gaetano Salomone with Carrara marble.


At the end of the park dominated by the Great Waterfall (is 82m high), there is a large basin adorned with the famous group of Diana and Actaeon, sculpted by Paolo Persico, Pietro Solari and Angelo Brunelli.On one side there is Diana,the goddess of the hunt and woods (in fact the area behind is San Silvestro’s oasis), surrounded by nymphs ready to dive into the water, on the other side there is Actaeon, who dared to look at Diana nudity, and because of this Diana is transforming him into a deer that after will be teared to pieces by his own dogs.

Among the sculptural groups loudly roars a great waterfall, as symbol of life and purification. The cult of Diana was very popular in the Caserta area, rich in forests and wild animals. To her, in fact, with the name of Tifatina,there was a dedicated temple won which ruins was built the basilica of Sant’Angelo in Formis.


At the both sides of the fountain of Diana and Acteon there are two stairs that will get you at the top of the waterfall,where you can find an artificial small cavern,designed by Vanvitelli to be used as gazebo and spectacular viewpoint on Caserta till Naples following the famous Vanvitelli‘s “telescope effect”.

View from the Tower, 3.3km away from the Royal Palace.