The Royal Palace of Naples was the seat of the Spanish and Austrian viceroyalty for 200 years, from the early 16th century to the early 18th century. Then the Bourbons took up residence, from 1734 to 1860. Even though the foundation stone was laid in 1600, the actual construction of the palace was not finished until after 1843. It is connected to the majestic Teatro di San Carlo and is located on the symmetrical Piazza del Plebiscito, where festivals and parades had taken place before 1860. The Palazzo Reale was first open to the public in 1919.
The façade is impressive as Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian columns, obelisks, globes and vases all make appearances. Statues of the kings of Naples adorn the façade as well.
When I was there only the first floor was open, but I was still able to see stunning tapestries, fine porcelain, impressive furnishings and superb ceiling paintings, some allegorical and others celebrating the Spanish rulers and their realm. Paintings that amazed included 17th and 18th century works by Neapolitan School artists, landscapes, views of seaports, pictures of royal Spanish palaces as well as portraits.
Tracy A. Burns is a writer, proofreader and editor in Prague.