Palazzo Caracciolo Napoli - MGallery by Sofitel

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Discover the Palazzo Caracciolo Napoli - MGallery by Sofitel, which was once the seat for the powerful Caracciolo family.

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Palazzo Caracciolo Napoli - MGallery by Sofitel, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2018, dates back to 1584.

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The history of the Palazzo Caracciolo Napoli - MGallery by Sofitel has its roots in the Neapolitan aristocracy. The hotel draws its name from the Caracciolo di Santo Buono, who were a powerful family that played a central role in the history of southern Italy, especially the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily. At the time, they were identified as the "Caracolo,” a name that would later become “Caracciolo.” When the court of the Kingdom of Naples moved into Castel Capuano towards the end of the 13th century, King Charles I d'Anjou built a castle on the Via Carbonara, just outside the entrance to the city of Naples. Later, his grandson, King Robert, would give this castle to Landolfo Caracciolo for the loyalty and services rendered to the Crown, although the king reserved the right to use it to attend shows, performances, and tournaments. However, a terrible earthquake rocked the region and caused major damage to the city of Naples, including the castle that had been given to the Caracciolo family. Undeterred, the Caraccciolos subsequently replaced the castle with the Palazzo di Caracciolo in 1584.

The new building did not pass-through history unscathed, either. During the Revolution of Masaniello, the Palazzo di Caracciolo was looted by rioting citizens who were angry at the heavy taxes and financial mismanagement in Naples. The revolution was actually relatively successful and forced the nobility of the city to flee. In need of a new leader, the revolutionaries called upon Henry II de Lorraine, the Duke of Guise, to lead them, and he declared Naples a republic under the protection of France. To house his new government, Henry II requisitioned the Palazzo di Caracciolo for use as his home and court. However, the Neapolitan Republic was very short-lived, as just six months later an army under the command of John of Austria marched into the city and crushed the fledging state. After these events, the palace was looted and damaged once again, with much of the furniture being stolen. And in the wake of the uprising, the building was returned to the Caracciolo family.

Starting in 1650, the Palazzo di Caracciolo became noted for its grandeur and was frequently used as the location for important marriages. In 1683, the palace hosted the marriage of the Prince of Torella to the eldest daughter of the Prince of Avellino. Ten years later, Antonio del Giudice, the Duke of Giovinazzo and Prince of Cellamare, married the daughter of the Prince of Sulmona. The building also regularly hosted ambassadors, statesmen, and other illustrious personalities. But over time, the Palazzo di Caracciolo fell into disuse and was abandoned until the first half of the 19th century, when the Ministry of the Interior decided to reuse the building as a barracks for the Guards of Public Security. Fortunately, the building eventually passed into the hands of a few successful entrepreneurs, who converted it into a luxury hotel. The building now houses the Palazzo Caracciolo Napoli - MGallery by Sofitel, a world-class holiday destination that connects guests with the long and winding history of the city of Naples. The brilliant Palazzo Caracciolo Napoli - MGallery by Sofitel has been a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2018.

  • About the Location +

    Located south of Rome along the Tyrrhenian Sea, the ancient city of Naples is among the most culturally significant metropolises in all of Europe. Its history stretches back millennia, with the people inhabiting the land as far back as the Neolithic period. Yet, first permanent settlements that would evenutally constitute Naples appeared in the 7th century BC, when Grecian traders from Rhodes founded a remote trading colony called “Parthenope.” Scant historical records have made it difficult to determine why the Greeks created the city, but scholars do know that it gradually emerged as one of the region’s more important commercial ports within a matter of decades. In fact, Parthenope had grown so much that the local residents established a second community nearby called “Neápolis” a century later. The Greeks subsequently merged the two towns together, with Neápolis emerging as the predominant identity of the new city. Much of the urban growth was driven by the city’s friendly relations with the powerful city-state of Syracuse, even becoming an ally in its wars against Carthage. Neápolis’ prosperity soon attracted the ire of rival societies in the southern Italian Peninsula, specifically the Samnites, who conquered the city in the Samnite Wars. The Samnites only controlled Neápolis for a few years, though, as it was captured by the Romans shortly thereafter. They subsequently transformed the city into a Roman colony and made it one of its premier seaports. The Romans proceeded to preserve the city’s rich Hellenistic culture, allowing the residents to maintain their own Greek language and customs. But the Romans also left their own imprint upon Neápolis, sponsoring the creation of many beautiful villas and public baths. It even became the preferred destination for powerful Roman nobles, including two emperors, Claudius and Tiberius.

    The western half of the Roman Empire fell during the fourth century AD. Its subsequent demise lead to a period political instability for Neápolis, as the entire region was quickly occupied by the Goths. Yet, the eastern portion of the empire—based in Constantinople—reformed into Byzantium and continued to thrive for years. It eventually captured Neápolis in 543, after one of its military commanders, Flavius Belisarius, famously charged into the city via an aqueduct. The city remained under Byzantine control for the next three centuries, rule directly by its client state, the Duchy of Naples. (It was around this time that the city was called “Naples.”) Periodic tension between local nobles frequently disrupted the duchy’s ability to police itself, culminating with the overthrow of the Byzantines by popular uprising in 840. Despite its newly gained autonomy, it struggled immensely to protect itself from the Saracens and Lombards. By the early 12th century, a new force had emerged in the Mediterranean that would evenutally affect Naples—the Normans. The French descendants of Viking raiders, the Normans had worked for various Italian nobles as mercenaries before outright seizing fiefdoms across the peninsula. In 1137, Roger II, the self-proclaimed “King of Sicily,” captured Naples, thus completing the Norman conquest of southern Italy. He proceeded to incorporate the city into his new royal realm, the “Kingdom of Sicily.” The Norman influence quickly crept over the city, as their specific perceptions of art and culture intermixed with the preexisting Greco-Roman customs. As such, Naples appearance changed significantly, as many new beautiful buildings appeared throughout the community. Yet, this era of Norman rule came to an end when Emperor Henry VI of the Holy Roman Empire married the last legitimate heir of the Roger II’s dynasty, Princess Constance. After fighting a prolonged war against a pretender named Tancred, Naples and the rest of the Kingdom of Sicily became part of the domain of Henry’s family, the Hohenstaufens.

    A bitter dispute with the Hohenstaufens caused the Vatican to crown a new monarch for the Kingdom of Sicily—the French aristocrat Charles of Anjou. Upon his coronation as Charles I, he moved the kingdom’s capital to Naples and settled inside its imposing Castel Nuovo. Yet, the Hohenstaufens had significantly transformed the city, making it into one of the Mediterranean’s great cultural centers. Perhaps the greatest testimony to their time as sovereigns was the creation of the University of Naples, the first institution of its kind in Europe for training secular ministers. And like the Hohenstaufens, Charles’ reign over Naples proved brief, as a rebellion known as the “Sicilian Vespers” resulted in his overthrow in 1282. The Kingdom of Sicily was, thus, divided into two smaller realms, with Naples serving as the new seat of power for the eponymous “Kingdom of Naples.” Despite the fracture, Naples continued to build upon its reputation as an academic oasis, especially after the Renaissance spread throughout Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries. Among the famous intellectuals to call Naples home over the next few hundred years, included Giovanni Boccaccio, Antonello da Messina, and Agnolo Poliziano. The city had even grown to become one of the largest in the continent, second only to Paris in population! Nevertheless, war eventually returned to Naples once King Louis XII of France seized the city in 1501. He, in turn, was defeated by the rival Spanish four decades later, making the Kingdom of Naples a part of the mighty Spanish Empire. The Spaniards continued to rule the Kingdom of Naples for the next two centuries, save for a brief period when disgruntled Neapolitans rebelled and created the ill-fated “Royal Republic of Naples” in 1647. (Spain also lost Naples for a short time following the War of Spanish Succession, in which the Austrians occupied the city from 1714 to 1738.)

    What brought Spanish sovereignty over the city to an end was the outbreak of the French Revolution. Residents sympathetic to the movement revolted against Ferdinand IV, King of Naples, which led to the creation of yet another republican government called the “Parthenopean Republic.” Backed by a French army, the new polity existed for a few years until the newly christened Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte installed his brother, Joseph, as the monarch of the revived kingdom. After Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the major European powers held the Congress of Vienna to resolve any outstanding problems that remained from the Napoleonic Wars. Among the topics they discussed was the reunification of the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples into one entity. The diplomats agreed to the premise and the two realms formally reunited to form the “Kingdom of the Two Sicilies” a year later. The kingdom would survive for the next five decades, before capitulating to the great revolutionary, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and his Expedition of the Thousand in the mid-19th century. Following Garibaldi’s capture of Naples in 1861, the residents of the city officially voted to join the greater Kingdom of Italy—the immediate precursor to the modern Italian state—by way of a plebiscite. Naples has since remained one of Italy’s most culturally vibrant cities, attracting thousands of fascinated cultural heritage travelers from around the world. It is currently home to many spectacular historical landmarks, including the Castel dell'Ovo, the Palazzo Reale di Napoli, and the Catacombe di San Gennaro. Its downtown core has retained so much of its historical character that the United Nations has even preserved it as one of its cherished UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


  • About the Architecture +

    The renovated Hotel Palazzo Caracciolo Napoli - MGallery by Sofitel currently displays some amazing Classic Revival architecture, although with significant Mediterranean flair. Also known as “Neoclassical,” Classic Revival design aesthetics are among the most common architectural forms seen throughout Europe. This wonderful architectural style first became popular in Europe in Paris, specifically among architectural students who studied at the French Academy in Rome in the late 18th century. Upon their return from the Italian Peninsula, the French architects began emulating aspects of earlier Baroque design aesthetics into their designs, before finally settling on Greco-Roman examples in the early 1800s. Over time, the embrace of Greco-Roman architectural themes spread across the continent, reaching destinations like Germany, Spain, and Great Britain. It found a particularly receptive audience among Italian architects, who relied upon the style to infuse a sense of heritage into their rapidly modernizing landscapes. As with the equally popular Revivalist styles of the same period, Classical Revival architect found an audience for its more formal nature.

    It specifically relied on stylistic design elements that incorporated such structural components, like the symmetrical placement of doors and windows, as well as a front porch crowned with a classical pediment. Architects would also install a rounded front portico that possessed a balustraded flat roof. Pilasters and other sculptured ornamentations proliferated throughout the façade of the building, as well. Perhaps the most striking feature of buildings designed with Classical Revival-style architecture were massive columns that displayed some combination of Corinthian, Doric, or Ionic capitals. With its Greco-Roman temple-like form, Classical Revival-style architecture was considered most appropriate for municipal buildings like courthouses, libraries, and schools. But the form found its way into more commercial uses over time, such as banks, department stores, and of course, hotels. Yet, the form found its way into more commercial uses over time, such as banks, department stores, and of course, hotels. Examples of the form can be found throughout many of the West’s major cities, including London, Paris, and New York City. Architects still rely on Classic Revival architecture when designing new buildings or renovating historic ones, making it among the most ubiquitous architectural styles in the world. 


  • Famous Historic Events +

    Revolution of Masaniello (1647): At the start of the 17th century, Naples—as well as the rest of Europe—was suffering greatly from the economic hardships wrought from the destructive Thirty Years’ War. Yet, the situation in Naples was far worse than in many other places, as its local rulers taxed what little wealth remained to help fund Spain’s royal government. (Naples had previously been a part of an independent fiefdom known as the “Kingdom of Naples,” but it lost its autonomy when its monarchy entered into a personal union with Spain in 1504.) Widespread discontent simmered among the local populace for decades, which finally erupted after a new levy on food stuffs passed in July of 1647. A massive revolt immediately spread across the city, in which the discontented crowds ransacked the customs office, long a symbol of oppression to the Neapolitans. The noblemen in charge of safeguarding Naples eventually fled, although some—including the city’s royal viceroy, Rodrigo Ponce de León—sought refuge in a local convent.

    Amid the chaos, a petty fisherman named Tommaso Aniello—better known to history as “Masaniello”—assumed control over the masses. Addressing the rebellious population from a wooden scaffolding just outside his house, he oversaw the arming and administration of the mob. Impressed with his leadership, the rioters subsequently appointed him as their “Captain-General.” The climax of Masaniello’s rebellion transpired on July 13, when throngs of revolutionaries stormed the city’s municipal buildings and arrested countless dignitaries, thus, leaving him as the most powerful man in the city. (It was at this point that the Palazzo di Caracciolo was looted amid the uprising.) Although the remaining Neapolitan aristocrats initially confirmed his designation as “Captain-General,” Masaniello was eventually assassinated. Rodrigo Ponce de León briefly resumed control over Naples, but Masaniello’s followers continued to agitate. A second revolution erupted a month later as such, in which the surviving extremists seized power and proclaimed the city the capital of the “Royal Republic of Naples.”

    Alarmed at the developments unfolding in Naples, the King of Spain, Philip III, mobilized a massive army under the command of John of Austria to take it back. The Neapolitans subsequently sought French support and called upon Henry II de Lorraine, the Duke of Guise, to lead their new state. (Henry was a descendant of a former Neapolitan king, Rene I.) Landing in Naples that November, he quickly established his formal residence inside the Palazzo di Caracciolo. But Henry’s task proved to be a daunting one. He struggled immensely to capture the castles around the city that were still occupied by forces loyal to Spain. Meanwhile, he had to contend with John of Austria’s much larger army, which had started to wage a successful campaign of clandestine military operations against the republic. Despite the attempt of a powerful French fleet to save Henry’s dominion, the Neapolitan Republic capitulated before John of Austria in April the following year. Henry II de Lorraine himself had even been betrayed, deceived into hopelessly attacking the besieging Spanish by some of his own councilors. No future uprisings commenced afterward, as the local population had grown tired from the months of constant political instability. But Henry clung onto his title as the ruler to the now-defunct Royal Republic of Naples, though, and led an ill-fated invasion of the city in 1654. Defeated, he sought exile in Paris where he spent the rest of his life.


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