While Caserta Royal Palace can be said to be resplendent with it’s ornate 1200 rooms, 1790 windows and 34 staircases, it is the Park that encompasses a stretch of 2.5 miles of gardens, fountains and statues that draws a greater presence of both tourists and native Italians.
The Park much like the palace itself was inspired by the Park at the Palace of Versailles.Â Caserta Royal Palace: The Park starts from the back side of the Palace all the way to the grotto that crowns the entrance of the aqueduct that pours hundreds of gallons of water into the system of waterfalls and fountains that line the promenade of the Park.
The park and the various gardens were planned and designed by Luigi Vanvitelli. However the entire park including the adjacent English Garden was completed in 1780 by his son Carlo Vanvitelli.
The stretch of these fabulous fountains and pools starts just as soon as you leave the back side of the palace. Perhaps because of the sheer distance from the back of the Caserta Royal Palace all the way to the Great Fountain of Diana & Actaeon, as a visitor you have the option of taking a small electric bus or a horse drawn carriage instead of walking the full 2.5 miles.
I chose to walk. Of course I had to stop along the way to photograph all the wonderful sights. From the central promenade there are paths that lead off to other pleasant but more woodland areas of the Royal Park.
The first fountain that I came upon is the smallish Margheritta Fountain.
According to travel guides this fountain is in a centralized location as paths that lead from here into the rest of the park return to this spot. So if you happen to find the English gardens that are adjacent to the final fountain at the bottom of the cascade you can be assured that you will end up at this smaller fountain upon your return.
Next in the series along the promenade is the Bridge of Ercole. When I was here in March I noted that there is a modern road that runs under this bridge. We surmised that since the construction of these gardens that the towns have encroached on the gardens and Caserta Royal Palace. But that evidently is not the case. The road actually leads to the town of Ercole.
All along the pathways there are either manicured hornbeam hedges or creative statuary that were evidently recreated just for use here at Caserta Royal Palace: The Park.
The next thing to come along on this 2.5 mile hike is the fish pond. It is a structure that is a mere 1558 feet long by 89.4 feet wide. Since the parks completion the pond has regularly been stocked with fish. It makes a lot of sense that they used the fish pond as a park attraction but also as a source of fresh fish that were used in the Royal Kitchens.
The Dolphin Fountain is next along the promenade. Here, as you can see in the picture there are three monstrous dolphins gushing water out into the basin below them.
As we continue our trek up the path we come to the fountain of Aeolus. The fountain has a basin that is 138.9 feet long by 113.7 feet wide. The water that feeds this fountain is later recirculated and transported via an underground system to fuel the gushing fountain of Dolphins.
While I didn’t count them when I was there, this fountain has 29 statues of zephyrs and winds from Greek Mythology.
Evidently this fountain was supposed to have had 54 statues. But at some point the original plans for the fountainsÂ were downgraded due to diminished funds for the project.
The Fountain of Ceres , next in line has a large pond measuring 1055 feet by 57.41 feet in which seven small waterfalls are placed.
The fountain is replete with tritons, nereids and more dolphins. Of course at the center of the fountain is Ceres flanked by dragons and nymphs.
And just a little bit more up the hill is The Fountain of Venus.
This one has twelve smaller waterfalls in front of it. The fountain depicts Venus as the central character attempting to convince Adonis not to go on the hunt so as to protect him from being killed.
At the top of the PromenadeÂ is the largest of the fountains. The Fountain of Diana and Actaeon sits at the bottom of the waterfall from which the waters out of the Carolina Aqueduct flow.
The fountain is a depiction of Diana and Actaeon. As the story goes Actaeon dared to spy on Diana as she bathed. For the error of his ways he was turned into a stag and then attacked by hounds that ripped him to shreds.
Flanking the final fountain are two roads one on either side of the waterfall path. The waterfall wasÂ constructed to cascade down from the grotto at the top. The water comes from a specially built aqueduct which was built just to feed all the fountains and ponds at Caserta Royal Palace: The Park.
The Aqueduct is thirty-one miles long and travels through five mountains. When it was first turned on it took four days for all the fountains to be filled and operational.
While the entrance to the roads is blocked and closed to the public some rather enterprising young kids have created another path.
So after following the path through the woods and up the precarious originalÂ roads, all the while encountering waterfall walls that were braced to keep the water in the waterfall contained and not spreading any more than it already has, I made it to the top.
Upon my arrival at the top I was greeted by some enterprising youth. They encouraged me to take this picture and then to cross through the water and over to where they were.
I chose a safer path.
This is the grotto at the top.
It is 200 feet above the last fountain.