Are you visiting Naples, Italy’s exuberant city? Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Royal Palace of Naples, a must-see tourist attraction in Europe’s second-largest Mediterranean city!
The Royal Palace of Naples is one of the best places to visit in Naples. This incredible edifice, heir to a rich and complex history, is an iconic element of the Neapolitan urban scenery. It was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, alongside the Palace of Caserta, the Palace at Capodimonte and the Palace of Portici, located right next to the ruins of Herculaneum
Facing the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola and its imposing neoclassical façade, the palace serves as an architectural element symmetrically “locking” the superb Piazza del Plebiscito.
Since Naples is too often described as the cradle of the Italian “Camorra” Mafia, one tends to forget that the city is home to an extraordinarily rich cultural heritage. To help you take advantage of the city’s fascinating historical sites, read this essential guide to the Royal Palace of Naples, featuring everything you need to know about this Neapolitan gem. Find out about the monument’s history, its main attractions, how to access the edifice, the entrance rates, the opening hours, and more.
So, what are you waiting for? Time to visit the Royal Palace of Naples!
History of the Royal Palace of Naples
The Royal Palace was built at the very beginning of the 17th century by architect Domenico Fontana. At the time, Naples was under Spanish rule. The Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four royal residences of the Bourbons during their reign in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. As a result, the palace was profoundly altered over the centuries by the successive residents who had the honor of living there. This is the case, for example, of Ferdinand I, husband of Maria Carolina of Austria – sister of France’s Marie Antoinette- who decided to extend the palace, adding the now-famous court theater.
During the Napoleonic occupation of the Kingdom Naples, the palace’s decoration was profoundly transformed by Joachim Murat and his wife, Caroline Bonaparte, who added Neoclassic decorations and furnishings. Today, many elements of the palace reveal this French heritage, reminding visitors of the Royal Palace of Naples of the typical style of French palaces!
Unfortunately, in 1837, a fire damaged many rooms and required restoration from 1838 to 1858 under the direction of Gaetano Genovese. Following the restoration works, the palace welcomed the sovereigns of Savoy. King Umberto I of Savoy made changes to the western façade side of the building by displaying in niches a series of statues of prominent rulers of Naples since the foundation of the Kingdom of Naples in the 12th century. In 1922, the contents of the National Library (until then in the palace of National Archaeologic Museum) were transferred to the Royal Palace, in the newly established Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III (Victor Emmanuel III National Library). Though the bombardments that marked the arrival of Allied forces during World War II caused serious damage to the Royal Palace, it was subsequently restored. It is this palace, entirely renovated, that visitors can discover today!
What to see and do at the Royal Palace in Naples?
It’s best to visit the Royal Palace of Naples by taking the typical tour of the Historical Museum of the Royal Palace… since the palace is now a Museum!
If you visit the Royal Palace of Naples, you will first begin by walking on the sublime paths of the palace’s garden and courtyard. Once you pass through the majestic entrance door, you will see the stunning Carrara marble double-staircase, a symbol of royal power, built by Picchiatti in 1651. Over the years, and particularly in the 19th century, the Genoese added several neoclassical elements to the castle. These additions break the original austere style of the palace through the use of colored marbles.
Continue your visit of the palace and its splendid court theatre, which was, in fact, a private room designed to welcome and entertain kings and dignitaries. The theater’s sumptuous setting was perfectly restored after the Second World War. Visitors can walk freely across all the apartments, which have been kept intact. Visitors can admire all the decorative elements that one would expect to find in a palace: an eyeful of lavish furniture, beautiful tapestries, porcelains, and other exquisite art masterpieces. See how the architectural setting offers a generous blend of neo-baroque and neoclassical styles. We strongly recommend contemplating the ceilings with great attention, as they are intricate works of interior architecture.
During your visit, don’t miss the Royal Apartments, surrounding a small square-shaped courtyard! The King’s apartments reveal its French influences with magnificent tapestries from the famous Gobelins Manufactory, and beautiful ceilings, particularly those of the antechamber, which were painted by the great master Francesco de Mura. Discover the throne room, housing a spectacular throne, and the ambassadors’ room, boasting breathtaking decorated ceilings, a real feast for the eyes! The Queen’s apartments are even more richly decorated, and offer a splendid view of the Mediterranean Sea!
End your visit at the Palatine Chapel: in this very large chapel, built in the purest neoclassical style, you can admire a majestic altar and a large 18th-century nativity scene.
How to get to the Royal Palace of Naples?
Keen to visit the Royal Palace of Naples? Make your way towards Piazza del Plebiscito: you’ll see the façade of the palace, fitting perfectly along one side of the square. This is the Italian taste for architectural geometry!
The palace is located in the heart of the tourist area of Naples, in fact, its historical center. It is therefore only a few hundred meters from the port. Visitors can access the palace very easily by foot, just like most of the Neapolitan tourist sites which are all located nearby.
- By public transport
If you come by metro – the easiest way, in our opinion, to get there – you will have to take line 1 and get off at the “Municipio” station.
- By car or taxi
Taxis abound in Naples, but you’ll find rates to be totally random. All drivers don’t charge the same rates, and some of them will tend to charge a different rate depending on their customer.
If you’re driving to the Royal Palace, you’ll find parking lots close by. You’ll find a parking space… if you’re lucky. Finding available parking spaces can be challenging during the high tourist season, which is why we recommend you book a parking spot online in advance.
The Royal Palace in Naples: rates & opening hours
The palace is open every day, except on Wednesdays, from 9 am to 8 pm. The ticket office closes at 7 pm, one hour before the closing time of the palace. This is to allow visitors at least one hour to visit the Royal Palace of Naples.
- Full price ticket: €6
- 18 to 24 years old: 3€
- Under 18 years old: Free
Note that every first Sunday of the month, admission is free for all!
Visitors can request an audio-guide at the entrance, at the cost of 4 euros.
GOOD TO KNOW:
You will need about an hour to visit the Royal Palace of Naples.
As a side note, the city is known to escape the full control and supervision of the Italian State… Plagued by endless construction works, chaotic municipal management, and unstable prices affecting both public transport and tourist sites. This should not hinder your visit in any way, but take it into account!
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