It was originally built by Giuseppe Piermarini between 1777 and 1780, when Lombardy was part of Austrian Empire, for the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria.
After 1805, with the Napoleonic Kindom of Italy, the building start to be Royal Palace, as it become home of the Viceroy of Italy Eugène de Beauharnais. When Napoleonic Kingdom fall down, Austrian Empire come back, but in 1861 - with the new Kingdom of Italy - the building become a palace of the Italian Royal Family Savoia.
The palace complex includes the Cappella Reale, or the "Royal Chapel", the Cavallerizza (horse-shed), the Rotonda dell'Appiani, the Teatrino di Corte ("Small Court Theatre") and the Orangerie. The rooms at the first floor include grand salons and halls, and the Royal apartments of King Humbert I of Italy and of Queen Margherita of Savoy. In front of the palace are the Royal gardens, designed by Piermarini as English landscape gardens.
The Royal Villa was abandoned by the royal family in 1900, after the murder of King Humbert I near the entrance as he returned from an event. The building hosts temporary exhibitions, but lacked a long-term resident or use until July 23, 2011, when the palace complex housed offices from 4 ministries (Economy and Finance, Reforms, Simplifications, and Tourism).