Sightseeing Tours of Turin and Venaria

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La Venaria Reale

La Venaria Reale - Fountain
La Venaria Reale - View from the parkLa Venaria Reale - Diana's GalleryLa Venaria Reale - Church of St. Hubertus

The Palace of Venaria was the “hunting palace” of the Royal House of Savoy; it is located right outside Turin where the Savoy lived.

It was built at the end of the 17th century by Amedeo di Castellamonte; the name of the palace in latin means Royal Hunt.

Only few years after the Palace was erected a French invasion and the Siege of Turin heavily damaged the structure. When the Savoy regained their power the famous architect Filippo Juvarra was hired to restore it.

After Queen Elisabeth Therese died here in 1741 giving birth to a son the Palace was hardly used.

Under the Napoleonic dominion the Venaria became an army’s dormitory and its beautiful gardens were transformed into a training ground. The former Royal Palace was used also by the Italian Army until the end of the 20th century. Only in 1978 in fact it was bought by the Ministry of Culture and restored. It took 30 years but today it is finally possible to admire its splendor again; in 1997 the UNESCO included the Venaria Reale in the Heritage List.

Things to see

Visiting the Palace of Venaria you will immediately enter in the Honor Court where once was located a gorgeous fountain. The main facade is decorated with cornucopias and fruits following the style of the 17th century. The two beautiful towers covered in ceramic’s tiles were added by Michelangelo Garove at the beginning of the 18th century. The towers are connected by a gallery called the Galleria di Diana built by Javarra together with the lovely Church of St. Hubertus. It was impossible to build a dome for the Church so the architect ordered to frescoes one in trompe-l’oeil.

Nothing remains of the original gardens except for few drawings. Today is it possible to admire a beautiful park with modern art pieces by Giuseppe Pennone.

Piazza Castello – Turin

Turin - Piazza Castello
Turin - Palazzo Madama - Night ViewTurin - Palazzo RealeTurin - Palazzo Reale - Facade

Piazza Castello is Turin’s main square. Positioned right in the center of the city the plaza is enclosed by some of the most important buildings of Turin: Palazzo Madama and Palazzo Reale. The project to create a plaza here started at the end of the 16th century. At the beginning Piazza Castello was divided in three sections; only during the Napoleonic dominion it became the square that we can admire today.

Piazza Castello was for centuries the center of Turin’s life, both political and social. When the King moved the political power from Turin to Florence first and then Rome the city lost its political importance. However the inhabitants of Turin kept using the plaza as center of the city’s social life. Many important events are still hosted in this unique Piazza.

Things to see

Three sides of Piazza Castello are covered by elegant arcades built in different period. These were erected in order to let the Turin’s populations enjoy a stroll around the center of the city also during the cold Turin’s winter. The arcade on the west side of the square hosted for years two important markets: one during the Carnival and the other one in May.

At the beginning of the 20th century the plaza was crossed by streetcars and cars, while today it is mostly pedestrians. The change was made with the intention of recreate a space where both inhabitants and visitors can enjoy a relaxing walking while admiring the numerous Palazzi and Monuments of this stunning Piazza!

Royal Palace – Turin

Turin - Palazzo Reale - View
Turin - Palazzo RealeTurin - Palazzo Reale - GateTurin - Palazzo Reale - Facade

The Royal Palace of Turin was the residence of the Savoy Family for centuries.

Located in the central Piazza Castello the palace was built were once stood the Bishop’s Palace. The location was chosen for two reasons: to be close where the court met, and to monitor the two main entrances of Turin, the Palatine Gate and the Pretoria Gate.

Initially built during the 16th century it was remodeled during the regency of Christine Marie of France a century later. She hired the famous baroque architect Filippo Juvarra. He designed the gorgeous staircase called Scala delle Forbici.

Another important addition to the original palace was the construction of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud. The chapel was built in order to house the famous Shroud of Turin, property of the Savoy Family since 1453.

Things to see

The gate that surround the Palace is decorated with a Golden Medusa; the Medusa symbol was used to scare trespassers.

In 1946 after a referendum abolished the monarchy in Italy the Palace was converted into a museum. It was dedicated to the House of Savoy.

In 1997 the Royal Palace became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

 

Palazzo Madama – Turin

Turin - Palazzo Madama - Night View
Turin - Palazzo Madama - BackTurin - Palazzo Madama - FacadeTurin - Palazzo Madama - Back View

Palazzo Madama historically is one of the most important buildings in Turin. Located in the central Piazza Castello it was built on top of a Roman gate.

During the 14th century the palace was transformed into a castle by the Savoia Acaja Family. Not even a century later it was heavy remodeled again; the building was given a square shape with a tower at each corner and an inner court. When the Savoia Acaja Family disappeared the House of Savoy inherited the castle, transforming it in their guest house.

Palazzo Madama was chosen by the regent Christine Marie as her residence; she modernized the interior. Following her predecessor steps the regent Marie Jeanne moved in the Palace too.

From here the name Palazzo Madame that in Italian means literally Madame’s Palace.

The baroque architect Filippo Javarra was hired to transform the 15th century Palace into a Baroque’s one. The project was never completed and only the frontal section was remodeled and covered in white stone.

Things to see

In the following decades the Palace was used for many different purposes. It became the headquarter of the French government under the Napoleon’s dominion; King Charles Albert transformed it into the Royal Art Gallery and later installed here the Subalpine Senate and the High Court.

During the fascist era Palazzo Madama became the Museo Civico di Arte Antica, City Museum of Ancient Art. In reality the museum hosts a collection of artworks from the Middle Ages to the 18th century.

 

Mole Antonelliana – Turin

Turin - Mole Antonelliana - Panorama
Turin - Mole Antonelliana - ViewTurin - Mole Antonelliana - View from Ponte IsabellaTurin - Mole Antonelliana - Side View

The Mole Antonelliana is probably the most popular monument in Turin. The world mole literally mean massive; while the world Antonelliana refers to the last name of the architect who designed it, Alessandro Antonelli.

The original project was for a synagogue paid by the Turin’s Jewish community.

When Turin became the capital of the newly born Italian Reign the community thought they need a synagogue worthy of a capital city. They hired Antonelli and the construction started in 1863. However only a year later the political powers were moved in Florence; the community lost part of its members. Also the relationship with the architect wasn’t very happy. He changed many time the design and raised the high of the dome of almost 46 meters. The cost grew too much and the construction time started to double. In 1869 the Jewish community decided to put an end to the construction and ordered Antonelli to build a provisory roof for the synagogue. Not even ten years later they withdrew from the project, they had already spent three times the original budget.

The city of Turin bought the property in exchange for a new land where the Moorish Revival Synagogue was finally, and quickly, built.

Things to see

Antonelli went back to work and the Mole dome was finally finished in 1889, a year after the architect’s death.

At the beginning of the 20th century the city used it as a Museum of the Risorgimento.

In 1953 a terrible storm destroyed part of the dome; it took almost a decade to rebuild it.

In 2000 the Mole was converted into the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, National Museum of Cinema. With its 167.5 meters, or 550 feet, of high the Mole Antonelliana is the tallest museum in the world.

 

Cathedral of St John the Baptist – Turin

Turin - Duomo - Exterior
Turin - Duomo - ParticularTurin - Duomo - InteriorTurin - Duomo - Cappella della Madonna

Turin’s Duomo is dedicated to St John the Baptist. The cathedral is dated back to the 15th century; it was built next to a Romanesque campanile.

 The famous Chapel of the Holy Shroud was added to the Duomo at the end of the 17th century in order to accommodate the Shroud of Turin, property of the Savoy Family since the 15th century.

The Duomo was built where once stood a Roman theater. Originally three churches were erected on the spot; however at the end of the 15th century they were demolished and the modern Cathedral was built.

The baroque architect Filippo Juvarra was hired to remodel the Duomo in order to create a space dedicated to the Shroud. He designed a chapel with an oval form and a new dome. However the Dome took almost three decades in order to be completed.

The Duomo is today considered one of the most popular Turin’s buildings; it is one of the few example of Renaissance art survived in the city. The beautiful white marble façade is a perfect example of this style.

Things to see

The interior is richly decorated thanks to the works of many artists of different periods. The beautiful Tribuna Reale, Royal Tribune, was designed by Simone Martinez during the 18th century for Carlo Emanuele III di Savoia.

A terrible fire heavily damaged the building in 1997; luckily the Shroud was saved by the firefighters. A renovation started immediately and a new case was built to display the Shroud.

 

La Consolata – Turin

Turin  - Santuario della Consolata - View
Turin - Santuario della Consolata - Side viewTurin  - Santuario della Consolata - InteriorTurin  - Santuario dell Consolata - Roman Ruins

The Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Consolation, simply known as La Consolata, is an important Marian Sanctuary. Located in central Turin it has a long history.

During the 5th century a church dedicated to St Andrew was built where today is situated La Consolata. Inside the church there was a small chapel that housed an icon of the Virgin. Immediately the icon became very popular; many miracles were attributed to the Virgin.  In particular a legend says that during the 12th century a blind pilgrim was given back his vision while praying in front of the icon.

Due to its popularity the Church was rebuilt many times in order to be able to accommodate all the pilgrims. During the second half of the 17th century a major renovation transformed the church in what we can admire today. The church nave was given a unique elliptical shape; a north presbytery was added too. The neoclassical façade and portico where built during the second half of the 19th century.

Things to see

The interior of the church that we can see today it is a beautiful example of the rococo style.

Because the renovations took place in different periods La Consolata showcases a unique collection of style. A Roman wall, Romanesque campanile, baroque domes and a neoclassical portico: this exceptional mix of styles gives the church her inimitable look!

Every year at the end of June a procession is dedicated to the icon of the Virgin.