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The Royal Staircase

The Royal Staircase was designed by Lorenzo Nottolini in 1818, on the commission of Maria Luisa Borbone, to replace the earlier sixteenth-century staircase that was too long and tiring. The entrance was moved to face the fifth rather than the fourth arch. The first flight was built against the wall of the Carriage Entrance. Documents show that the 83 stairs were quarried in Carrara between December 1818 and the beginning of the following year. The purpose of the staircase was to complement the celebration function of the redecorated apartments of the Throne Quarter. With its austere simplicity, the staircase is divided into three flights with a barrel vaulted ceiling with sunken panels. The ascent is rhythmically accompanied by Ionic pilaster strips between which are mirrors with stucco bas-reliefs. The relief decoration, designed by Nottolini and commissioned to the sculptors Guidotti and Paoli was based on a grand iconographic programme that was reduced during completion to one dual thematic concept: winged victories and griffins with the heraldic symbols of the Borbone family, the Castile Tower and the Lily of France.