NAPLES AT 360° WITH 4 LEGS

“The Stone Guardians: The Statues of the Royal Palace in Plebiscite Square”

The Plebiscite square in Naples has a long and interesting history. The origins of Plebiscite Square date back to the 16th century, when the Viceregal Palace was built. The palace, commissioned by Pedro Álvarez de Toledo y Zúñiga, was designed by Domenico Fontana and overlooked a large open space.

Over the centuries, the square underwent various transformations. The most significant occurred in the 19th century, when the Civil Buildings Council announced a competition for the construction of a "Foro San Gioacchino". The competition was won by the architect Antonio Niccolini, who designed a rectangular square, surrounded by two rows of columns and closed by a triumphal arch.

The construction of the new square was completed in 1845. The triumphal arch, dedicated to Ferdinand II of Bourbon, was added in 1851.

Oggi, Piazza del Plebiscito è una delle principali attrazioni turistiche di Napoli. La piazza è sede di importanti edifici, tra cui il Palazzo Reale, la Basilica di San Francesco di Paola e il Palazzo Salerno.

 

The eight statues were commissioned by King Umberto I, the first king of Italy. Their position on the facade of Palazzo Reale, which was the seat of the Italian government, was a way to underline the continuity between the history of Naples and that of united Italy.

The choice to also include Vittorio Emanuele II, who was never king of Naples, sparked some controversy. However, the statues remain an important landmark for the city and continue to be admired by tourists and citizens.

The nine statues found on the facade of the Royal Palace in Naples, in Piazza Plebiscito, are a tribute to the founders of each dynasty that reigned over the city, starting from Ruggiero the Norman up to Vittorio Emanuele II.

The statues were commissioned by King Umberto I, the first king of Italy, after a public call addressed to artists from all over the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. The choice to also include Vittorio Emanuele II, who was never king of Naples, sparked some controversy.

Ruggiero II di Sicilia (Mileto, 1095 – Palermo, 1154)

The first statue, on the left, represents Roger the Norman, who was king of Sicily from 1130 to 1154. Roger is considered the "founder" of the Kingdom of Naples, as he unified all the small kingdoms of Southern Italy. The statue was created by Emilio Franceschi.

Ruggiero il normanno statua piazza plebiscito - Napoli -

Federico II di Svevia (Jesi, 1194 – Torremaggiore, 1250)

The second statue represents Frederick II of Swabia, who was king of Sicily from 1198 to 1250. Frederick II is known for being a great enlightened ruler, who promoted culture and the arts. The statue was created by Emanuele Caggiano.

federico II di Svevia - statua piazza plebiscito Napoli

Carlo I d’Angiò (Parigi, 1226 – Foggia, 1285)

The third statue represents Charles I of Anjou, who was king of Sicily from 1266 to 1285. Charles I is considered the founder of the Kingdom of Naples, as he separated the kingdom of Sicily from the kingdom of Aragon. The statue was created by Tommaso Solari.

Alfonso V d’Aragona (Medina del Campo, 1396 – Napoli, 1458)

The fourth statue represents Alfonso V of Aragon, who was king of Sicily from 1442 to 1458. Alfonso V is known for having reunified the kingdom of Sicily and the kingdom of Aragon. The statue was created by Achille d’Orsi.

Carlo V d’Asburgo (Gand, 1500 – Cuacos de Yuste, 1558)

The fifth statue represents Charles V of Habsburg, who was emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 to 1556. Charles V was also king of Naples from 1516 to 1558. The statue was created by Vincenzo Gemito.

Carlo III di Borbone (Madrid, 1716 – Madrid, 1788)

The sixth statue represents Charles III, who was king of Naples from 1734 to 1759. Charles III is known for having modernized the kingdom of Naples and for promoting the arts and sciences. The statue was created by Raffaele Belliazzi.

Gioacchino Murat (Labastide Murat, 1767 – Pizzo Calabro 1815)

The seventh statue represents Joachim Murat, who was king of Naples from 1808 to 1815. Murat was a French general who was placed on the throne of Naples by Napoleon Bonaparte. The statue was created by Giovan Battista Amendola.

Vittorio Emanuele II di Savoia (Torino 1820 – Roma 1878)

The eighth statue represents Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy, who was king of Italy from 1861 to 1878. Vittorio Emanuele II was the first king of Italy. The statue was created by Francesco Jerace.

Personally, I find the statues very beautiful and evocative. I am particularly struck by the statue of Charles V of Habsburg, which is a true masterpiece by Vincenzo Gemito.

Neapolitans know a story about statues well, it can be rewritten in dialogue form as follows:

[Scene: Ballroom of the Royal Palace]

Carlo V d’Asburgo

Who peed on the floor here?

Carlo III di Borbone

I don't know anything about it.

Gioacchino Murat

It was me, so what?

Vittorio Emanuele II

(Drawing his sword) Now I'll cut it for you!

Here are some additional details I found interesting about the statues:

  • The statues are made of white Carrara marble.
  • They are about 3 meters tall.
  • Their weight varies from 2 to 4 tons.
  • The creation of the statues took about two years, the nine statues were inaugurated in 1890.

 

 

 

Facebook
piazza plebiscito a Napoli
en_US
Powered by TranslatePress