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Caserta Royal Palace

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The Caserta Palace, in Italian Palazzo Reale di Caserta, is a palace and former Royal residence in Caserta, near Naples, once used by the Kings of Naples. It was the largest palace and probably the largest building erected in Europe in the 18th century. In 1996, the Palace of Caserta was listed among the World Heritage Sites on the ground that it was "the swan song of the spectacular art of the Baroque, from which it adopted all the features needed to create the illusions of multidirectional space".
The construction of the palace was begun in 1752 for Charles VII of Naples, who worked closely with his architect Luigi Vanvitelli. When King Carlo saw Vanvitelli's grandly-scaled model for Caserta it filled him with emotion "fit to tear his heart from his breast". In the end, he never slept a night at the Reggia, as he resigned from the throne in 1759, and the project was carried to completion for his third son and successor Ferdinand IV of Naples.
Behind the facades of its matching segmental ranges of outbuildings that flank the giant forecourt, a jumble of buildings arose to facilitate daily business. In the left hand arc was built as barracks. Here, later, during World War II the soldiers of the US Fifth Army recovered in a "rest centre".
Of all the royal residences inspired by the Palace of Versailles, the Reggia of Caserta is the one bearing the greatest resemblance to the original model: the unbroken balustraded skyline, the slight break provided by pavilions within the long, somewhat monotonous facade. As at Versailles, a large aqueduct was required to bring water for the prodigious water displays. Like its French predecessor, the palace was designed to be the powerhouse of an absolute Bourbon monarchy in the true Baroque fashion. Thus the enfilades of Late Baroque were the heart and seat of government, as well as displays of national wealth. The palace also provided suitable housing for the royal family and the court of the Kingdom of Naples, the Palace housed the offices of government bureaucracy a national library, a university, a national theatre, all apart and free from the disorder and squalor of Naples. Thus the King of Naples at caserta was free from the mob and factions of his capital in the same way as Versailles had freed Louis XIV from Paris. To provide the King with extra protection a barracks was also housed within the precincts of the palace.

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