Many of Europe's parks and gardens were created at the request of the kings, queens, princes and princesses who once ruled over the Old Continent. Some have exceptional qualities or stunning styles that put them on the map for visitors vacationing in Europe, such as the park of the 18th-century Royal Palace of Caserta in Italy.
The royal connection: The Bourbon King Charles III is known for making 18th century Naples one of the cultural centers of the age. He ordered the restoration of the Royal Palace, as well as the construction of the Palace of Portici, the Palace of Capodimonte and the Teatro di San Carlo opera house.
The Royal Palace of Caserta: His most ambitious project is situated 30 kilometers from Naples, built to rival the Versailles Palace in France, both in terms of size and opulence. It was also destined to become a new administrative center for the Kingdom of Naples, away from the dangers of attacks from the sea and Mount Vesuvius. The building is considered the last great expression of Italian Baroque. Designed by renowned architects including Luigi Vanvitelli, the spectacular nature of the palace is mirrored in its gardens.
What to see: Along the park's central alleyway, which is three kilometers long, visitors can take in a series of magnificent fountains with mythological inspirations: the Fountain of the Dolphins, the Fountain of Aeolus, the Fountain of Ceres, the Fountain of Venus and Adonis, and the Fountain of Diana and Actaeon. This avenue then leads up to a waterfall, fed with water from an aqueduct.
The palace garden is one of the latest European gardens to be inspired by the creations at Versailles. Its "English Garden" is one of the largest and oldest picturesque gardens created in Europe.
The Caserta palace grounds also include a woodland area and the industrial complex of San Leucio, built for the production of silk.
Practical information: Open daily, closed Tuesdays. Closed January 1, Easter Monday, May 1, December 25.
Price: historical apartments, park and English Garden: €12/€6 concessions. Historical apartments: €9/€4.50 concessions.
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