The Royal Palace of Portici: historical notes

Charles III of Spain

Portrait by Anton Raphael Mengs, c. 1761

In 1737, the King of Naples, Charles of Bourbon, and his young consort Maria Amalia of Saxony, had gone on a fishing expedition to Castellammare. During their return home, a storm forced them to land at the Granatello. Fascinated by its beauty, the queen decided, with the king's approval, to construct a summer palace.
However, in reality, it also proved a most strategic location to defend the coast from the expansion of the English and Austrian powers. The project of the Royal Palace was submitted in 1738 to the military engineer Antonio Medrano, and throughout the course of its construction , many engineers and architects took part in its realization. Medrano was replaced by Canevari in 1741 and the project was completed by Vanvitelli some twenty years later, who also made vast improvement upon the aqueduct system. During this time the importance of preserving the precious objects found by the excavations of Ercolano and Pompei was understood and in 1758, the Herculaneum Museum was inaugurated. In 1761, architect Ferdinando Fuga continued improvements to the Royal Palace, enlarging the Herculaneum Museum and designing the area for the Gioco del Pallone and the Casino annex.

Maria Amalia of Saxony

      Portrait of Maria Amalia overlooking the Neapolitan crown, by Giuseppe Bonito (c. 1745)

In addition to the notable collection of architects, a group of distinguished artists provided the interior decoration of the palace as well as the enrichment of the park with various fountains and statues: the most important were Canart, Bonito, Panza, Corsini, Gamba, and Re. The buildings of the Prince of Elboeuf and Aquino of Caramanico as well as the Marquis Mascambruno were later bought ad integrated into the Palace lands forming an extravagant property that extends from the sea to the base of Mt. Vesuvius, separated in two by the ancient road of Calabria.

Palace of Portici

- The Palace of Portici in a 1745 view -
For more notices see the article Palace of Portici in Wikipedia