Church of Sant’Uberto, Royal Palace of Venaria

The church of Sant’Uberto is a Catholic place of worship in Venaria Reale, in the metropolitan city of Turin, dedicated to Sant’Uberto.

It is part of the complex of the Reggia di Venaria Reale and is considered one of the masterpieces of the international baroque. It was built between 1716 and 1729, on a project by the architect from Messina Filippo Juvarra, who received the commission from Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy (the upper internal parts of the access portals are in fact marked by the initials VA carved on marble).

Together with the Galleria Grande, another masterpiece by Filippo Juvarra at Venaria is the Chapel of Sant’Uberto, entitled to the patron saint of hunters as a reference to the hunting destination of the residence.

With a central plan, it features a Baroque marble altar. The upper part (i.e. the main floor) of the structure has some balconies on which the members of the royal family overlooked when they attended the liturgical celebrations.

The church, being also set among the buildings so as not to allow the construction of the dome in the central area, simulates its presence by frescoing it as trompe l’oeil inside (the trompe l’oeil is the work of Giovanni Antonio Galliari). The reason for this artistic expedient, which drastically reduced the residual costs, is perhaps also to be found in the progressive lack of interest of the Savoys in the embellishment of the Reggia di Venaria as a hunting lodge, as this had now become démodé in comparison with the more modern Palazzina hunting lodge of Stupinigi (with an eighteenth-century appearance, and therefore able to give prestige to the Savoys in rivaling on a par with the glories of the other European courts).

The sculptural apparatus of the chapel was built between 1724 and 1729 by Giovanni Baratta from Carrara, who first created the high altar, then the four gigantic doctors of the church (Saints Agostino, Ambrogio, Atanasio and Giovanni Crisostomo) with the help of of his nephew Giovanni Antonio Cybei. The choir is by the Lugano sculptor Carlo Giuseppe Plura.

Completely restored on the occasion of Expo 1961, religious functions are rarely held there as the church is an integral part of the Reggia’s tourist itinerary.

The Buliding
Wanted by Vittorio Amedeo II, it was started in 1716 and completed in 1729. Juvarra conceived for the sacred structure majestic volumes arranged around a beveled Greek cross plan, with two large altars on the sides of the transept and four circular chapels inside and polygonal outside, placed on the diagonals.

The numerous sumptuous decorations enrich the wise contrasts of light inside making the environment truly unique.

The true “radiant protagonist” of the chapel is the high altar, the work of Giovanni Baratta, which appears as if suspended, almost framed by the beam of light that forms the background of the tabernacle supported by marble angels. The altar develops vertically, placing itself between the two central columns of the basin built from the apse.

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The light, which enters copiously from the tall rear windows, highlights the jagged shape of the altar and multiplies its tones and colors.

Also in Baratta are the four statues of the Doctors of the Church, placed in the niches of the central pillars: Sant’Agostino, Sant’Ambrogio, Sant’Atanasio and San Giovanni Crisostomo.
At the side altars are the four large altarpieces by well-known Roman school painters.

The connections of the Chapel with the Royal Palace, left unfinished by Juvarra, were completed under Carlo Emaneuele III by Benedetto Alfieri, to whom we also owe the scenographic monumental staircase that goes up to the stands of the Chapel.

In the autumn of 2019 the Sacristy of the Chapel of Sant’Uberto was reopened with a renewed layout that enhances its sacredness and function.

Royal Palace of Venaria
Reggia di Venaria Reale is a former royal residence and gardens located in Venaria Reale, near Turin in the Metropolitan City of Turin of the Piedmont region in northern Italy. With 80,000m² in palace area and over 950.000m² in premises, it is one the largest palaces in the world. It is one of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy, included in the UNESCO Heritage List in 1997.

Restored to the baroque magnificence to which it was inspired in the mid-1600s by Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy, the Reggia di Venaria is once again a symbol of modernity and culture. Since its opening in 2007, after two centuries of neglect and decay and eight intense years of restoration, La Venaria Reale has become one of Italy’s five most visited cultural sites.

The monumental palace is home to some of the finest examples of universal Baroque: the Hall of Diana designed by Amedeo di Castellamonte, the Great Gallery and the Church of St. Hubert, the grandiose complex of the Juvarra Stables designed by Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century, the sumptuous decorations and spectacular Fountain of the Stag in the Court of Honor are the ideal setting for the Theatre of History and Magnificence, the permanent display devoted to the House of Savoy that takes the visitor down a path that is almost 2,000 m long, from the basement level to the piano nobile of the Reggia.

Seen from above, the Reggia and the Gardens cover a surface of 950,000 square meters of unencumbered architecture and parkland. They lie at the heart of a vast estate that is made up of the Juvarra Stables (a 5,000 sq.m. exhibition centre in the Citroniera and the Great Stables); the Conservation and Restoration Center (housed in the former Alfieri Stables); the Old Town Center, the Borgo Castello and Cascina Rubbianetta (today home to the prestigious International Horse Center) set among the woods and castles that dot the 6,500 hectares of greenery in the nearby Park of La Mandria.

The Gardens appear today as a perfectly balanced combination of ancient and modern elements, in a boundless scenario where archaeological findings and contemporary artworks dialogue in harmony. A complex restoration project has led, over a period of eight years, to the reconstruction of the landscape and its historical landmarks that also took into account modern aesthetics and contemporary needs with important art works by the contemporary masters Giuseppe Penone and Giovanni Anselmo.