The throne room of the Royal Palace of Caserta

The splendor of the Empire style and the court of King Ferdinand II of Bourbon

 

History of the Throne Room

From the Antechamber of the Ambassadors (called Sala di Astrea) you enter the Throne Room which, after the Great Gallery, is the largest in the Royal Palace of Caserta.
The design process for this Hall was particularly long and complicated, which was concluded only in 1845 under the reign of King Ferdinand II, under the direction of the architect Gaetano Genovese, on the occasion of the Congress of Science which was held in Naples in 1845. Before it was completed, the Alexander Hall, i.e. the Antechamber for the Untitled, was used as the Throne Room.

Initially it was supposed to be designed by the architect De Simone, the author of the previous rooms known as Mars and Astrea, who among other things having already prepared the project since 1809, was able to start the works immediately. But De Simone’s enemies, we don’t know how, ensured that he was replaced by the architect Pietro Bianchi from Lugano, who had already been building the basilica of S. Francesco di Paola in Naples for seven years by order of the King who wanted it as thanksgiving to the Saint for giving him back the Kingdom. Certainly De Simone was also at a disadvantage for having been the architect of the Murats. Bianchi’s project was never completed, as it involved the creation of niches with large statues of the Bourbons and flat columns in the already made walls, but this would have caused static problems for the building. Once the problem was resolved, work resumed until the King died in 1830.

The Hall

The Hall remained undecorated for over fifty years, until Francesco I in 1824 entrusted the task of the decorative project to the architect Pietro Bianchi. This project was never completed, as it involved the creation of niches with large statues of the Bourbons and flat columns in the already made walls, but this would have caused static problems for the building. Once the problem was resolved, work resumed until the King died in 1830.

In 1839 they continued under the direction of the architect Gaetano Genovese, who was already working in the Royal Palace of Naples, but were then suspended for financial reasons or for reasons of changed taste. Finally, in 1843, Genovese was commissioned to carry out the work according to the new drawings prepared by him since, on the occasion of the next Science Congress to be held in Naples in 1845, King Ferdinand II wished to show through this Room the splendor of his court. It was completed in two years.

Pietro Bianchi – Scale model of the project for the Throne Room

Gaetano Genovese – First project for the ceiling of the Throne Room, 1838

Gaetano Genovese – First project for the side walls of the Throne Room, 1838

Description

The long walls are punctuated by pairs of fluted flat columns with Corinthian capitals which rest on a marble plinth that runs all around the perimeter of the room; they alternate, on the southern side, with large windows and, on the northern side, with doors leading to the service and secondary rooms. The short walls, on the other hand, are each marked by two pairs of flat columns between which two “Fame” (each per wall) in relief have been placed, the work of two different sculptors (Tito Angelini and Tommaso Amaud); on the sides of the two pairs of flat columns, on each wall, there are passages – of lower height than those on the northern side – which lead to the adjacent rooms.

The ceiling is a barrel vault with lunette windows (real on the left side and fake on the right), and has a rich late empire decoration with Gennaro’s painting in the centre. The flooring of the Hall is entirely made of terracotta painted in imitation of marble.

The Genoese brought to Caserta the same artists who worked with him on the decoration of the Grand Staircase in the Royal Palace of Naples, namely the sculptors Gennaro and Antonio Cali, Francesco Liberti, Angelo Solari, Gennaro De Crescenzo, to whom he added the decorators Cariello, The Rose and others. They executed the stuccos of the vault, the trophies on the walls and the medallions of the frieze with the portraits, sometimes imagined, of the sovereigns who governed the kingdom, from Roger the Norman to Ferdinand I, with the exception of Giuseppe Bonaparte and Gioacchino Murat.

The Cali brothers and Solari, together with Tito Angelini and Tomaso Arnaud, authors of the two high relief groups, were among the best known and most esteemed Neapolitan artists of that time, above all for the statues of saints they sculpted for the interior of the church of St. Francis of Paola.

Detail

A corner of the Hall

The frieze above the flat columns is richly decorated with cornucopias, grotesques and 44 medallions with all the Kings of Naples except Joseph Bonaparte and Joachim Murat. Notice the Bourbon lilies at the center of the capitals.

Decorations and furnishings of the throne room

The fresco and the ceiling

The barrel ceiling is a profusion of late Empire-style gilded stucco. At the time there were ten chandeliers, which have since disappeared (see below).

The fresco

Gennao Maldarelli – fresco with the “Ceremony of the laying of the first stone”, 1844

Ceiling detail. Note the Bourbon lilies on a silver background

View from under the sconce

Furnishings

Sconce in gilded bronze and crystal, year 1840-45. At the time it was equipped with a dual spark plug and oil supply

The throne has two winged lions as armrests, and behind it two sirens. it is from 1845 in a transitional style, when the Empire style was turning into Neo-Baroque. The stools are also in the same style.

Virtual reconstruction

The profusion of gilding on a white background must have created a marvelous effect at the time when there were as many as ten huge crystal chandeliers then taken away by the Savoy after the unification of Italy and ended up, for a short time, even in the city of Cettigne in Montenegro! Currently it is not known for sure where they are located.

Virtual reconstruction with the ten missing chandeliers

Reconstruction vs today

Vintage photo of the throne room

The Royal Palace of Caserta during the Second World War was occupied first by the Nazis, then by the Americans.

Soldiers during the Second World War

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The Royal Palace of Caserta is open every day, except Tuesdays, December 25th and January 1st. The Court Theater can only be visited on Saturdays and Sundays (10:00 – 13:00)

  • Ticket office closes: 18:45 (6:45 pm)
  • Last admission: 19:00 (7:00 pm)

The entrance times to the Royal Palace and to the Park and the English Garden vary throughout the year Find out the timetables

You can purchase entrance tickets to the Royal Palace of Caserta in advance from us official seller Ticketone.

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ADDRESS: Piazza Carlo di Borbone, 81100 Caserta (CE)

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