A noble residence, Savoy mansion, and wonderful National Museum in the heart of the monumental Via Balbi (17th century), Palazzo Balbi – Durazzo, today known as Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace), was built in the 17th century by the Balbi family, based on the designs of Pier Francesco Cantone. In 1677, it was inherited by Eugenio Durazzo, who transformed it into an impressive Baroque-style building, reminiscent of a Roman palace. In 1824, it came into the possession of the Royal House of Savoy, who adopted it as their Genoese residence, hence the name Palazzo Reale, or Royal Palace.
Now the property of the State, the building is home to Liguria's department for Artistic, Historic and Archaeological Heritage, and the Galleria di Palazzo Reale museum.
Located on the piano nobile, the museum comprises a series of elegant rooms decorated and furnished in the 18th century by the Durazzo family and in the 19th century by the Savoy. Dating to the 18th century are the Galleria degli Specchi (Hall of Mirrors), the Sala di Valerio Castello (named after the artist who painted the room's frescoes) and the Galleria della Cappella (Gallery of the Chapel), while dating to the time of the Savoy are the Sala del Trono (Throne Room), the Sala delle Udienze (Presence Chamber), and the Salone da Ballo (Ballroom).
Among the works on display, two 17th-century paintings deserve special mention: the "Portrait of a Lady" and the "Crucifix" by the Flemish painter Van Dyck.
The palace also boasts beautiful terraces and an impressive garden replete with vegetation and exotic plants. Also worth noting are the beautiful risseu pebble mosaics in the inner courtyard (risseu is a style of decorative cobbled paving frequently found in the squares and courtyards of Liguria's churches).