Capodimonte Royal Wood - Naples
The Royal Woods, the green lung of the city of Naples that extends around the Royal Palace of Capodimonte for some one-hundred-twenty-four hectares, was born in 1734 as the hunting reserve of King Carlo III of Bourbon, fascinated by the natural beauty of the hill.
Before that era, the hill was the site of rural settlements, monasteries and country hamlets, and it was not util after 1734 that the borders of the Royal Site of Capodimonte were drawn up, and they have remained more or less unchanged to this day.
Unlike other royal parks, the Capodimonte Wood was designed to be totally independent from the Royal Palace which is located to one side, and it was designed according to its destination as an area for hunting, which was not only one of the King's passions, but was also an actual "State function" that involved a colourful Court made up of ministers, nobility, foreign guests, as well as artists and painters called upon to paint the various scenes.
In 1738, the architect Ferdinand Sanfelice organised the architectural plans for the Park according to an obviously Baroque style.
Radiating from the entrance esplanade, there are five very long tree-lined avenues, which are filled with numerous marble statues, and intersected in a play of perspectives by minor avenues within the thick natural foliage of holm-oaks, lindens, maples, elms, oaks, elders, briars, nettles, butcher's broom, tarassaco and cyclamens.
The middle lane once ended at a colossal statue known as "the Giant" and now situated near the "Fontana di Mezzo" and, in part, composed of ancient fragments.
Sanfelice also studied the characteristics of three species that were appropriate for the shelter and reproduction of the different types of game that were to populate the wood.
Today, inside the Park, which can be accessed through three entrances, the Porta Piccola (Small Gate), Porta Grande (Large Gate) and Porta Miano (Miano Gate), among the more valuable and antique trees there are oaks, chestnut trees, cypresses, pines and extremely rare camphor-laurel trees.
Dotted among the greenery there are various buildings which were originally used for the operations of Courtly life, for cult purposes and for the functions of agricultural and zootechnics and factories:
- the "Casino della Regina" (Queen's Hunting Lodge), the residence of the Queen Mother and was also the site for private receptions and parties;
- the "Palazzina dei Principi" (Princes' Building);
- the "Church of San Gennaro", built in 1745 for the porpose of providing religious assistance to the many workes who lived in the Park;
- the "Eremo dei Cappuccini" (Cappuccini Hermitage), in the Neo-gothic style, which today houses a school;
- the "Fabbrica della Manifattura di Porcellana" (Porcelain Manufacturing Factory);
- the "Fagianeria", with exotic pheasants;
- the "Cellaio" (Cellar);
- the "Vaccheria" (Dairy Farm), which is a real farm.
During the 19th century, the entire Capodimonte area was the protagonist of major changes.
Though confirming its primary intended use, the woods gradually took on the character of an English garden under the Reign of Ferdinando I.
With the accession of Ferdinando II, the park underwent a radical transformation and became more suited to taking walks than to hunting.
The transformation also extended to the buildings which were enlarged and embellished.
The advent of the Savoia dynasty in the 19th century represented continuity for the complex, and only a few parts were modified.
The only remaining vegetable garden is the Giardino Torre or Orto Reale (Tower Garden or Royal Vegetable Garden) at the North-East edge of the wood where there were the first trees that produced "d'ò monte" cherries.
The definitive change came with the institution of the "Real Orto Botanico" (Royal Botanical Gardens) of Naples, which examined the "botanical strategies of royal installations".
At the end of last century a large number of palm trees were introduced including a unique exemplar of a silver-palm.
In 1928 it gained the status of a "Park" and was opened to the public.
The largest green areas of Naples, but is also an ideal place for the study and conservation of rare plants. (Carmen Grieco)
Naples, Via Bosco di Capodimonte and Via Capodimonte
Opening hours 9.00 to one hour before sunset
1 January and 25 December closed
How you can get there from the Hotel
From the Piazza Amedeo Station take line 2 on the subway, in the direction of Gianturco, and get off in Piazza Cavour (second stop); proceed by bus from Piazza Museo (near the subway Station of Piazza Cavour) n° 137 or 160 or 178 or by bus from Via Pessina (on the corner with Piazza Museo) n° 24 or R4, and get off at Miano stop: The Royal Wood of Capodimonte is in Via Capodimonte.
Royal Palace of Capodimonte