Reggia di Venaria Reale, near Turin, Italy, is one of the largest palaces in the world (80,000 square meters).
Charles Emmanuel II began the building of his hunting “lodge” in 1675. The plan was for a palace, gardens, and hunting woods. It was later enlarged to be a royal residence of the House of Savoy.
The Cour d’honneur (“Honor Court”)
The first rooms we visited were filled with models of the Palace at different times in history. A group of Italian senior citizens, led by a very loud and emotive tour guide, were touring this part of the palace at the same time as we were, so we moved along quickly to stay ahead of them.
Some of the palace buildings were damaged in 1693 by the invading French, and in 1699 Duke Victor Amadeus II had the palace modified to French tastes.
During the reign of Charles Emmanuel III, the palace was enlarged with new stables and galleries but it fell into disuse after the fall of the Ancien Régime in the late 1700s.
During Napoleon’s time the palace was used by the military as barracks and the gardens as training grounds. Later it was used by the Italian army until 1978. It was sold to the Ministry of Culture and rescued from ruin by a 10 year and 235 million euro restoration project. The Palace and gardens were opened to the public in 2007 and are now used for art exhibitions and events.
The Galleria Grande
The dancing fountain in the Honor Court can be seen from the Galleria. We were lucky to have this view when they turned on the water and played music to accompany it.
We took a short lunch break in a lovely spot next to the palace café.
The chapel of St. Uberto
Because the church is inside the palace structure, it was impossible to build a dome. This “dome” is a fresco trompe-l’oeil – amazing!
The original gardens are long gone but we enjoyed what has been recreated. The misty rain we experienced in the morning gave way to a lovely afternoon.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Venaria Reale.