The ancient name of Pietra Ligure was La Pietra , and referred to the imposing calcareous rock that is found to the east of the historical center, above which the Roman castrum was built. The castle, enlarged in the period of the barbarian and Saracen invasions (6th-9th century), was a bishop ‘s property and reached its present size in the 16th century. It is believed that this natural barrier, easily defensible, constituted a border point between the Byzantines and the Lombards .
The Byzantine castrum was probably destroyed by King Rotari, but in the same site the medieval castle, stronghold of the bishops of Albenga, was built in the 12th century , subject then to frequent attacks by the Del Carrettos of Finale . To the west of the castle a hamlet developed, surrounded by turreted walls and endowed with five gates: the port of the marina protected by a bastion to the south, the gate of Santa Caterina near the homonymous rural oratory to the north, the door of the porch protected by the tower of via Rocca Crovara and the royal gate to the west, the door to the slaughterhouse to the east. After various vicissitudes, the village was definitively ceded by Pope Urban VI to Genoa , in 1385 , and acquired considerable importance as an advanced point of the Republic between the Finale and Loano , fiefdom of the Doria .
The castle remained the property of the bishops of Albenga, who sold it to the Arnaldo at the end of the fourteenth century . It then passed into the possession of other patrician families and was enlarged in 1550 with the addition of a wing facing south-west, an arch in the eastern part in addition to the two sentry boxes. Due to the Saracen raids the upper square was armed with two large cannons, which were sent back to Genoa at the end of the 18th century in view of the French invasion. The medieval part, at the end of the fifties of the twentieth century , has been restored and transformed into a meeting place. The solid masonry resting directly on the rock, the impervious position, the vaulted passages and the low rooms of the dungeons known as “Grimaldina”, due to the fact that two Grimaldi brothers from Monaco were imprisoned there at the end of the fourteenth century, justify the importance of the castle exercised in the local defense system.References:
Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte overlooking Naples, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius.
Construction on the present building was begun in the 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana. Intended to house the King Philip III of Spain on a visit never fulfilled to this part of his kingdom, instead it initially housed the Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro, count of Lemos. By 1616, the facade had been completed, and by 1620, the interior was frescoed by Battistello Caracciolo, Giovanni Balducci, and Belisario Corenzio. The decoration of the Royal Chapel of Assumption was not completed until 1644 by Antonio Picchiatti.
In 1734, with the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. On the occasion of his marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony in 1738, Francesco De Mura and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro helped remodel the interior. Further modernization took place under Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. In 1768, on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Carolina of Austria, under the direction of Ferdinando Fuga, the great hall was rebuilt and the court theater added. During the second half of the 18th century, a 'new wing' was added, which in 1927 became the Vittorio Emanuele III National Library. By the 18th century, the royal residence was moved to Reggia of Caserta, as that inland town was more defensible from naval assault, as well as more distant from the often-rebellious populace of Naples.
During the Napoleonic occupation the palace was enriched by Joachim Murat and his wife, Caroline Bonaparte, with Neoclassic decorations and furnishings. However, a fire in 1837 damaged many rooms, and required restoration from 1838 to 1858 under the direction of Gaetano Genovese. Further additions of a Party Wing and a Belvedere were made in this period. At the corner of the palace with San Carlo Theatre, a new facade was created that obscured the viceroyal palace of Pedro de Toledo.
In 1922, it was decided to transfer here the contents of the National Library. The transfer of library collections was made by 1925.
The library suffered from bombing during World War II and the subsequent military occupation of the building caused serious damage. Today, the palace and adjacent grounds house the famous Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte (recently restored), the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and offices, including those of the regional tourist board.