The Grand Staircase of Honour of the Palace of Caserta
The Staircase, designed by Luigi Vanvitelli, was imitated worldwide
The Staircase of the Royal Palace of Caserta is such a masterpiece of architecture and scenography, which became the role model of all the main following world staircases. As you climbing up in the large entry staircase, while you looking at the great marble lions, you will be impressed by the immensity of the great background wall with its three big statues of the Royal Majesty, Merit and Truth. Turn back and suddenly you will see the Staircase expanding into two huge and spectacular parallel staircases ending with a structure of arches and columns that resembles a temple. Only now you can admire the majesty of the Staircase, 32m high and 11,664m3 volume, that ends up with a dome that originally housed an invisible orchestra. This dome is “fake” indeed, because above it there is another one suspended from the roof truss via wooden tie rods. This dome is an extraordinary masterpiece of fantasy, art, technique and constructive audacity, and we can only imagine all the difficulties encountered and masterfully overcome by Vanvitelli.
While you will climb up via the side staircase you can admire all this, and so you will get into the large central vestibule, almost a temple, from which you can enter the Chapel and the Royal Apartments.
The magnificence of the Staircase, with its marbles, huge statues, elegant arches, the two huge stairs, is the most spectacular scenography of the 18th century.
THE CENTRAL STAIRCASE
The visual impact is immediate and flamboyant for anyone who, for the first time, walk through the telescope: the short starting staircase limited by two pillars of the vestibule, and overlaid by a large arch (which has the same slope of the staircase) inevitably induce you to walk up.
The upper rectangular landing is dominated on the sides by two marble lions meaning that, as deduced from Vanvitelli’s “Declaration of Drawings”, the strength of reason and weapons that assure the king of “ownership of his kingdoms”. The right lion is by Tommaso Solari, while the one on the left is by Paolo Persico.
THE THREE STATUES
At the end of the staircase we find the immense back wall. It is divided into three main sections dominated by three huge sculptures. The three huge statues were commissioned by Vanvitelli to intimidate visitors during the climb. They represent Merit, Royal Majesty and Truth.
QUI GRAVIS ES MERITO GRAVIOR MERCEDE REDIBIS
(più grande è il (greater is the merit, greater will be the reward)
AD MAJESTATEM ACCEDENS PERPENDE QUID AFFERS
(before approaching the Majesty think on what are you pretending)
VERA FERENS VENIAS LATURUS FALSA RECEDAS
(come forward the true, hide the fibs, go away the falsities)
The light from the large side windows collects in the immense vault which in turn reflects it downwards. The vault was painted by Gerolamo Starace and represents “The palace of Apollo”, and has a central oculus, as above it there is a space for the orchestra that played when the King climbed the Staircase.
The upper vestibule
After the second staircase youenter into the vestibule, of similar appearance as like as a temple, and structurally similar to the one at the ground floor, but much more elegant and rich in ornaments.
It is difficult to determine where the Staircase ends and the Upper Vestibule begins, there are no doors or gates that clearly separate the external space (the Telescope) from the interior of the Palace. the upper vestibule can therefore be considered as the last portion of the external space before entering the Royal Apartments or the Palatine Chapel.
Perfectly octagonal in shape, it is surrounded by a portico, this evokes later ancient architecture.
GREAT WORLD STAIRCASES INSPIRED BY THE ONE AT CASERTA
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