A lofty symbol of royal power during the long years of the Bourbon monarchy (1734-1860), the Palazzo Reale di Napoli was founded during the Spanish Viceroy period. In 1600 the Viceroy Fernandez Ruiz de Castro entrusted the project for its construction to Domenico Fontana and, in 1611, the son of the Viceroy, don Pedro, began work on the decoration, which reached its peak with the Mannerist paintings celebrating great Spanish feats: examples include the frescoes by Battistello Caracciolo in the Sala del Gran Capitano and the two by Belisario Corenzio in the Salone degli Ambasciatori and the second Antechamber. Don Pedrò had the area between the palace and the sea landscaped with the extensive viceregal gardens, whose memory has been preserved in the green spaces of Palazzo Reale. The palace was soon habitable and viceregal court life, which was a whirl of ‘gentlemen wooing, ladies complying, sounds and music and every sort of merry entertainment’ became eventful, not least in its cultural leanings. In 1734, when the young Charles of Bourbon entered Naples in triumph, the city went back to being the capital of an independent kingdom. The complex operation to restyle the entire city also involved carrying out modifications to the palace, which it was intended would become the ‘king’s residence’. The Bourbon renovation was entrusted to Giovanni Antonio Medrano, Ferdinando Sanfelice and Luigi Vanvitelli. The internal decoration was updated, and the painters best able to interpret the new cultural climate were called to court: Francesco De Mura and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro. At the same time, the square in front was laid out in such a way that it would become not only a symbolic place of power, but also a space for people to gather on the occasion of great public, civil and religious events. The niches in the façade, which were initially left empty, in 1888 were filled with the statues of the kings of Naples: Roger the Norman, Frederick II of Swabia, Charles I of Anjou, Alphonsus I of Aragon, Charles V of Habsburg, Charles III of Bourbon, Gioacchino Murat, Victor Emanuel II of Savoy. At the centre of the façade the royal and viceregal coats of arms are visible, whereas the coat of arms of Savoy can be seen beneath the balcony. Having entered the Palace, we come to the Courtyard of Honour, which still bears the architectural stamp of Fontana. Opposite stands a nineteenth-century fountain with a statue of Fortune; on the left are the Gardens, while on the right is the Courtyard of the Carriages and the Courtyard of the Belvedere. The luminous monumental Staircase of Honour, which was designed in 1651, leads to the Historic Apartment. The Ballroom in the ‘Ala delle Feste’, the long west wing of the Palace where festive gatherings were held, has housed the Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli since 1927.