Peschiera Grande – Caserta, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Caserta, Italy

Peschiera Grande

Nobles would stage mock naval battles on this large lake at the Royal Palace of Caserta. 

The Royal Palace of Caserta is one of the largest and most impressive royal residences in the world, built by the Bourbon royal family of Naples to rival the Palace of Versailles. This 18th-century baroque masterpiece sits on an enormous park that stretches for more than two miles and is decorated with many fountains and statues, ending with a waterfall and the famous English Garden.

Beyond the usual path that leads from the palace to the waterfall, there are other attractions worth seeing within the beautiful royal park. One is found inside the huge Italian Garden, in the northwestern part of the first half of the park. There, you’ll find a large artificial lake known as Peschiera Grande, commissioned by the Bourbon King Ferdinando IV with the purpose of hosting small simulated naval battles for sport.

In the middle of the lake, there is a small island that was known as Pagliara. The island features an overgrown pavilion that was once used to store weapons for the mock battles. Participants would defend the Pagliara fleet against attacking ships with arrows, rifles, and small cannons. Many sailors and military personnel were involved in the simulated battles and the maintenance of the fleet.

Near Peschiera Grande lies the small fortress of Castelluccia, complete with a moat and drawbridge, which was similarly used to simulate terrestrial battles.

Know Before You Go

The palace is open daily except on Tuesdays and certain holidays. The opening hours of the palace and park vary by season, so check the website for details. Tickets are 12 euro for the palace and park together, or 8 euro for just the park. The lake is located in the eastern corner of the park through the Italian Garden.

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