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The Palatine Library of the Royal Palace of Caserta

The Palatine Library of Queen Maria Carolina was known for its collection of rare books


The Palatine Library was a pride of the Bourbon Court. It occupies three large rooms of the so-called "old" apartment, furnished with splendid walnut and mahogany bookcases. Formed over decades, undergoing the influences and tastes of the time, due to the interests and culture of those who have dealt with it from time to time, not to mention the numerous vicissitudes, the dismemberments that history has inflicted on it.

It collects around 14,000 volumes and pamphlets on various subjects, among the most important and prestigious, in terms of content and typography, printed in the 18th and 19th centuries. The most significant works of European, as well as Neapolitan, culture of the modern age are represented here: works on religious subjects, such as the complete collection of the Catholic Library, works on law and economics, among which those by Montesquieu, Filangieri, Vico , Giannone and the Collection of Laws of the Kingdom of the Two Siciles, literary works by classic and modern authors of various nationalities, geography, mathematics, science and zoology, the latter also interesting from a graphic point of view, such as those printed by Bodoni full of fine color engravings. A unique, rich and valuable collection is the one made up of opera, dance and music librettos in general, which refer to performances given at the time in the various theaters of Naples. The bindings deserve particular mention, from those rich in friezes and decorations stamped in gold or decorated with enamel to those in morocco, velvet and silk.

All the rooms are designed by Carlo Vanvitelli.

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Aut. Maria Carmen Masi

The third room of the Library

Johann Wilhelm Weinmann – “Phytanthoza Iconographia, 1737-1745”

The Palatine Library also contains 1500 letters from Luigi Vanvitelli, the architect of the Reggia. In his letters to his brother he describes in detail his whole life and the difficulties encountered during the construction of the palace. Thanks to being we can discover the whole history of the construction of the Palace

The First Room

The Sala is a triumph of the "Etruscan" style of the first period of the Neoclassical style. The ancient decoration of the first room corresponds to the inventories of 1799 and imitates the classic vases with red figures on a black background.

The ceiling fresco has grotesque decorations with Etruscan medallions. The central part was made by Filippo Pascale based on a design by Carlo Vanvitelli, it depicts the two hemispheres of the terrestrial globe with the signs of the zodiac, the constellations and the winds.

In the frescoes of the overdoors, great classical personalities such as Archimedes are depicted in monochrome, with two griffins at his sides. The walls have frescoes reproducing the ceramics with red figures on a black background

On the original mahogany bookcases there are vases created by the Giustiniani manufacture, specialized in the creation of replicas of ancient ceramics.

The bookcases are decorated with Etruscan anthems and keys.

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The first room of the library

The central part of the fresco, by Filippo Pascale based on a design by Carlo Vanvitelli, depicts the two hemispheres of the terrestrial globe with the signs of the zodiac, the constellations and the winds. Note the presence of Australia but not yet Antarctica.

The ancient books

The triumph of Neoclassicism. The vases are Giustiniani

The Second Room

The Second Room of the Palatine Library contains other mahogany bookcases, and original prints of the Palazzo’s plans were once displayed framed on the walls. In the original project, this room should have been a “reserve room with domestic chapel”.

The fresco is grotesque, with cameos, festoons of flowers and typically neoclassical intricate weaves. Bordered by a Greek key.

The second room of the library

The fresco

Behind the doors are other library rooms

The ancient volumes

The Third Room

In the original project this room should have been the "Noble Room for eating", or the Dining Room, but it was used as a Library.

The fresco is from 1782 by Filippo Pascale based on drawings by Carlo Vanvitelli, as are the decorations on the walls from 1782, in particular the tempera and oil paintings by the Austrian painter Heinrich Friederich Füger (Queen Maria Carolina was also Austrian) . The four works depict:

  • Apollo god of poetry on Mount Parnassus, with the Three Graces;
  • Envy and Wealth;
  • The School of Athens;
  • The Protection of the Arts and the Expulsion of Ignorance.

The subjects of neoclassical taste retrace the history of humanity in a mythical and allegorical way, from the birth of poetry and philosophy to the complete elimination of ignorance, passing through envy. The purpose of the decoration is the celebration of the new Bourbon golden age and good governance.

Currently there are splendid mahogany bookcases, a revolving bookcase, and among the furnishings we can mention two from the early 19th century, a small inlaid mirror from the end of the 18th century, a telescope, a barometer and an Empire style pendulum clock. In ancient times there was also a large round revolving table, a very special revolving lectern in the shape of a mill wheel, and two ancient statues from the Greek era but, as already explained, the dispersion of the furnishings of the Palace in the past is known.

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The third room of the Library

The fresco

The bookshops. That pyramidal one rotates!

Detail of a globe

reggia di caserta biblioteca palatina terza sala Il Parnaso con Apollo e le tre Grazie di Heinrich Schmidth

“Apollo god of poetry on Mount Parnassus, with the Three Graces” – Heinrich Friederich Füger, 1782

The rooms behind the Palatine Library

Here are some of the adjoining rooms

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