5 tips for Turin

Turin Skyline with Alpes
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Turin was the first capital of Italy and residence of the Dukes of Savoy, whose beautiful palaces can still be admired today. In addition, the city on the River Po has become famous and characterized by the car brand Fiat. While on the western side of the Po River most of the city lies in a plain, on the other side there are only smaller quarters. From the hills there, one has a wonderful view of the city and the peaks of the Alps behind it. The capital of Piedmont is an important economic and cultural center of Italy and is especially popular with young people, as it offers a varied cultural and nightlife.

Tip 1: Palazzo Reale

The Palazzo Reale di Torino is considered not only one of the most famous sights of Turin, but one of all Italy. If the architecture of the facade with the two equestrian statues in front is already impressive, the interior of the former royal palace offers a whole series of magnificent rooms in the Rococo, Baroque and Neoclassical styles. In addition, there are eye-catching design elements and a Royal Weapons Collection worth seeing. The second floor is where the majority of the attractions are located.

Palazzo Reale at Turin
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Several reception halls, decorated with tapestries, paintings and inlaid ceilings, are followed by the throne room, decorated with magnificent gilded carvings, and the audience hall. Breakfast room and dining room, living room and bedroom, and the queen’s private chapel follow. A bedroom houses a collection of Japanese and Chinese vases. Finally, the Queen’s Throne Room and the Ball Room, designed with white marble columns, complete the range of numerous rooms. The connection to the second floor is made by Filippo Juvarra’s famous scissor staircase.

The Palazzo Reale was built in the 17th century by order of Carlo Emmanuel I on the site of an ancient bishop’s palace. Associated with the construction was the creation of a new street that began at the entrance to the palace and later became known as Via Roma. From 1780 the building was completed and the decoration of the individual chambers was adapted to the taste of the time.

Since then, hardly any changes were made. First, the palace-like palace served Christina of France as a residence and then became the palace of the House of Savoy. In addition to the Dukes of Savoy, the King of Sardinia and the King of Italy also resided in it. It held this function until the 19th century. Today it is considered one of the most magnificent royal residences in Europe and a much-visited museum.

Tip 2: Mole Antonelliana

The bizarre building from the late 19th century is visually completely out of keeping with the surrounding architecture and, at more than 167 meters, is one of the tallest accessible structures in Europe. The ride in the glass elevator to the observation deck at a height of around 80 meters is particularly impressive. From here, the view sweeps far over Turin and, on a clear day, as far as the Alps. The Mole Antonelliana is also of interest to film buffs, as it houses Italy’s most important film museum.

Mole Antonelliana in Turin
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It took about 20 years to build, yet in 1888 the Mole Antonelliana was still not quite finished. The architect, who was commissioned by the Turin Jewish community to build a new synagogue, miscalculated the construction costs and caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage. In return, the Mole Antonelliana, named after him, became not only the tallest building in Turin, but for a time even in the world.

To save the preservation of the structure, the city took over the building and built a museum there to commemorate the Risorgimento, the historical era of the unification of Italy in the 19th century. Today the building houses the Museo nazionale di Cinema, which offers a cross-section of the history of Italian cinema from the magic lantern to the present day. The Mole Antonelliana and the Film Museum are among the most visited sights in Turin.

Tip 3: Cathedral of Turin

The Cathedral of Turin, officially Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista, is the most important sacred building in the northern Italian city. The church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Turin. The building is the only medieval church in the city. The cathedral gained worldwide fame for the Shroud of Turin, which is kept here in a side chapel.

Cathedral of Turin
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The linen cloth, which is over 4 meters long, is said to be the burial cloth of Jesus and to show his imprint. Thousands of tourists and pilgrims travel to Turin Cathedral every year for this cloth alone. The cloth is secured behind bulletproof glass in the chapel and is worshipped there by the faithful. The bishop’s residence is also an impressive church building in other respects, in which the architectural styles of different epochs harmoniously combine to form a charming unity. Worth seeing is the separately standing bell tower, the Campanile, from the 15th century.

The Turin Cathedral was built at the end of the 15th century. Before that, various other churches had stood on the site, all of them destroyed. In ancient Roman times, the municipal amphitheater was located on this site. The architecturally particularly finely built campanile had already been erected 20 years before the cathedral was built. Since the 16th century, the cathedral has been an episcopal church by papal decree.

It was not until the 17th century, when the religious cult of the Shroud of Turin reached its peak, that the side chapel was built, which today houses the textile venerated as a shrine. In the Baroque period, the cathedral was sumptuously decorated in the style of the era.

Tip 4: Palazzo Madama

Palazzo Madama is one of the residences of the former Italian ruling dynasty of Savoy. It stands in the center of Turin in Piazza Castello and today houses a Municipal Museum of Ancient Art. Palazzo Madama is one of the oldest buildings in the city and an important example of Baroque architecture.

Palazzo Madama in Turin
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The museum’s permanent exhibition features paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque, as well as an important collection of applied art with valuable ceramics, glasses and objects made of porcelain. It is also devoted to the 2,000-year history of the building itself. Among the most famous works exhibited in the museum are the paintings “Très Belles Heures de Notre-Dame” by Jan van Eyck and “The Image of a Man” by Antonello da Messina. Palazzo Madama is one of the most beautiful buildings in Turin and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Palazzo Madama was built in the Middle Ages on the former Roman city gate Porta Decumana as a fortress. The two towers of the Roman gate were integrated into the fortress complex and can still be admired today. In the 15th century the fortress was expanded and two more towers were added. In the following centuries, the powerful rulers transformed the fortress more and more into a royal residence.

Palazzo Madama received its name in the 17th century from the daughter of the French king Christina of France, who had chosen it as her favorite residence. In the 19th century, the Palazzo played an important role in Italy’s unification movement.

Tip 5: Piazza San Carlo

Piazza San Carlo is one of the biggest focal points for tourists and locals in Turin and is considered the heart of the city. The extremely idyllic square in the center of the northern Italian city is framed by numerous richly decorated small and large baroque buildings from the 19th century. In the center of the rectangular square is a large equestrian statue of Duke Emanuele Filiberto, the work of architect Carlo Marochetti, which is admired by thousands of tourists every day. The numerous old buildings as well as the cozy cafes and stores in the romantically arranged arcades give the large square a very special atmosphere.

Piazza San Carlo in Turin
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The construction of Piazza San Carlo, considered one of the most beautiful squares in the whole country, began as early as 1640. It was built according to a drawing by the Italian architect Carlo di Castellamonte. The latter had been guided in the planning mainly by the impressions of his numerous visits to the French capital, Paris. In 1838, the large bronze equestrian statue was created by Emanuele Filiberto. He had defeated the French in the Battle of Saint-Quentin in the mid-16th century, and was revered as a hero ever since. Piazza San Carlo is also the starting point of Via Roma, one of the most important streets of the city, since 1936.