DISCOVER THE MARVELOUS ROYAL APARTMENTS
Vanvitelli divided the floor of the Royal Family, the so-called “Royal Floor”, into four parts (or quarters). In the south-west of the building, there was the apartment or “quarter” of the King, today’s “XIX century Apartments”. The “fourth” of the crown prince, the “Apartment of the XVIII century” in the southeast of the Palace, were actually the only ones to be inhabited by the Royal Family for more than fifty years, since was not completed the construction of the western side of the royal floor, due to the historical events of the late XVIII and early XIX century (Neapolitan Republic and Napoleonic domination).
THE STATE APARTMENTS
Walking through the Anterooms of the Halberdiers and Bodyguards, aimed at representative functions, lighted by great chandeliers of the nineteenth century gilt bronze and decorated terracotta floor faux marble, it will reach tothe Salon of Alexander, third anteroom designed to “non-Titled”, so named by the fresco of the vault of Mariano Rossi, representing the” Marriage of Alexander the Macedonian and the oriental princess Roxane”.
The Salon of Alexander (also known as “Marble Hall”), connects the XIX and the XVIII century halls. From here on the right leads to the New Apartment, also defined as the nineteenth century Apartment in reference to the historical period in which the works of furnishing and decoration were completed, while on the left leads to the Old Apartment or XIX century Apartment. Introduced by the two Anterooms of Mars and Astrea, richly decorated with neoclassical motifs and completed during the reign of Napoleon’s , the New Apartment continues with the Throne Room.
This hall, exceeded only in size to the Grand Ballroom planned by Luigi Vanvitelli in the Apartment of the Queen, was the last to be completed and was inaugurated on the occasion of the Congress of Sciences, in 1845. More than forty meters long and lighted by six windows, in the back of the hall there is a portable throne, in gilded wood, carved and upholstered in velvet. The decoration symbolizes the absolute power; the central painting of the vault, by the Neapolitan painter Gennaro Maldarelli, portrays “The laying of the foundation stone of the Palace January 20, 1752”. Through the Council Room, will enter in the Apartment designed for the King.
Fresco in the Hall of Alexander. It measures 20 x 14m.
The visit itinerary continues with the exhibition “Things Not Seen” located in so-called Retrostanze. In these halls, it presents a selection of Bourbon Collections’ artifacts of excellence: two very prestigious mechanical organs cylindrical, by the master Anton Bayer, the precious cradles of the Princes of Savoy and wooden models of the rides that Alfonso of Bourbon commissioned for the park adjoining the “Favorita”, the favorite residence by Maria Carolina von Habsburg, wife of Ferdinand IV of Bourbon.
The other rooms of the nineteenth century Apartment are characterized by a neoclassical furniture, declined in all its forms, ranging from solid and solemn Empire style furniture of Francis II’s bedroom of the monumental four-poster bed, those elegant and composed of the toilet in the bathroom in Carrara marble of the sovereign, dated 1829. Complete the Apartment the murattiane rooms, decorated in Empire style from the Royal Palace of Portici and the Chapel of Pope Pius IX.
THE PRIVATE APARTMENTS
The XIX-century wing of the Palace, lived by the Bourbon court since Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, welcomes the Old Apartment: Halls in elegant Rococo taste, enriched with sumptuous San Leucio silk wallpaper, coloured chandeliers of Murano glass and paintings of the most renowned artists of the XIX century. The tour begins with the so called Seasons’ Rooms, for the presence of frescoes on the vaults representing the four seasons portrayed by Fedele Fischetti and Antonio de Dominicis. Arouse considerable interest the halls of the Apartment of Queen Maria Carolina, decorated in the rocaille taste, very different from the rigor of the furnishings of King’s rooms. Worthy of note are the three halls of the Palatine Library, denoting a neoclassical style visible in the upper libraries boiseries or in so-called Pompeian decorations of Giustiniani vases exposed on the shelves.
Study of King Ferdinand II
The third hall of the Library leads to the Elliptic Room, spacious free of decorations hall, with original architectural solutions of the vault, elaborated to enhance the acoustics of the hall to its original use in home theatre. It now houses the Nativity in Bourbonic style.
THE PALATINE LIBRARY
The Palatine Library as part of the royal apartments,is an essential complement to the prestige of the Court. Occupies three large rooms of the apartment so-called “old”, furnished with beautiful libraries in walnut and mahogany. As the library collection was formed slowly through the decades, according to the influences and tastes of to the personal interests and culture, not to mention the many vicissitudes, the dismemberments that history has inflicted.
The third one of the three rooms of the Library
It owns about 14,000 books and booklets of various subjects, including the most important and prestigious ones,both for content and both for typography, printed in the XVII and XIX century. You can find the most significant works of European and Neapolitan culture of the modern era: of religious argument, such as the complete collection of the Catholic Library, treatises about law and economics, among which stands out those ones by Montesquieu, Filangieri, Vico and Giannone, and also the Collection of Laws of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; literary works of classical and modern authors of various nationalities, geography, mathematics, science, and zoology, the latter ones also interesting from the graphical point of view, such were printed by Bodoni with a lot of fine coloured etchings. An unique collection, rich and valuable, is made up of opera librettos, dance and music in general, which refers to the time given representations in the various theaters in Naples. Special mention goes to their ligatures, those rich in ornaments and decorations stamped in gold or enamel decorated in Moroccan ones, velvet and silk.
Johann Weinmann – “Phytanthoza Iconographia” – 1737 to 1745. Extremely rare and precious series of books about botany.
THE ART GALLERY
The tour continues in the rooms of the Art Gallery, rearranged to have regard to the paintings that document the cultural addresses and artistic choices for the patronage of Bourbons and, before that, the Farnese. The royal portraiture is thus joined to genre painting with scenes of court life, popular scenes and with allegories extolling the virtues of the sovereigns. In the wing of the Pinacoteca, intended for landscape painting, are exhibited the “Views of the ports of the Kingdom” by Jacob Philipp Hackert together with other paintings by the XIX and nineteenth centuries including Antonio Joli and Fergola. In the north wing houses the royal portraiture, from Farnese’s Fasti.
J. P. Hackert, “Il porto di Alinuri presso Sorrento”, 1794
THE BOURBON NATIVITY
In the Royal Apartment there is the Elliptical Hall, painted in white and without decorations, and made for the amusement of the court. Today it houses the Bourbon Nativity, recently restored, after which most of the figures had been stolen. The tradition of the Neapolitan Nativity grew thanks to Charles of Bourbon during the half of the XVII century, but mostly thanks to the collector king Francesco I.
The habit to prepare for Christmas the nativity scene into the Royal Palace of Caserta, became a tradition of the whole Court: it was created not only by the artists and craftsmen, but also by all the ladie-in-waiting and princesses, skilful in making clothes for the shepherds, rich ladies or oriental dressed Georgian merchants, made with multicolored San Leucio’s silk and of filigree and coral jewelery.
Alla realizzazione del presepe parteciparono artisti come Bottiglieri, Sanmartino, Mosca, Celebrano, Vassallo, Gori, i quali modellavano in terracotta le figure più importanti, mentre le altre avevano solo la testa e membra di terracotta e la struttura di fil di ferro e stoppa. Le figure erano collocate su uno “scoglio” di sughero, secondo regole rigide e nel rispetto delle scene canoniche, quali la Natività, l’Annuncio ai pastori e l’Osteria.
Per realizzare il presepe ogni anno era eseguito un progetto, come descritto nei dipinti di Salvatore Fergola visibili sulle pareti della sala. In esse è raffigurato l’ultimo presepe allestito dai sovrani, prima della conquista del Regno nel 1860. L’attuale allestimento si ispira a quell’ultimo presepe ottocentesco, che ben rappresenta la Napoli cosmopolita della fine del Settecento.