The Royal Palace of Turin is the first and most important of the Savoy residences in Piedmont, theater of the politics of the Savoy states for at least three centuries. It was originally built in the 16th century and was later modernized by Christine Marie of France (1606–1663) in the 17th century, with designs by the Baroque architect Filippo Juvarra.
The royal residence celebrate the vast rooms, the carved and gilded ceilings, the paintings, the tapestries, the mountain crystal lamps, the furniture and tools, chiseled, inlaid, veneered, rich in gold, precious stones, mother of pearl and ivory, and the floors committed and inlaid with various kinds of wood.
It is located in the heart of the city, in the Piazzetta Reale adjacent to the central Piazza Castello, from which the main arteries of the historic center branch off: via Po, via Roma, via Garibaldi and via Pietro Micca. The palace also includes the Palazzo Chiablese and the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, the latter of which was built to house the famous Shroud of Turin.
The Royal Palace represents the heart of the Savoy court, symbol of the power of the dynasty and, together with the other royal residences of the Turin belt, such as the palace of Venaria Reale, the hunting lodge of Stupinigi or the castle of Valentino, it is an integral part of the assets declared by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The palace, intended as a ducal residence, was designed between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century by Ascanio Vittozzi. On the death of the latter, the work was entrusted, during the regency of Christina of France, to Amadeo di Castellamonte. The facade has a central part flanked by two higher wings, according to the seventeenth-century project by Carlo Morello. The rooms on the main floor are decorated with allegorical images celebrating the royal dynasty, made by the hands of different artists.
At the end of the seventeenth century Daniel Seiter was called to fresco the ceiling of the Gallery, which will also be called Galleria del Daniel, andGuarino Guarini builds the Chapel of the Shroud to house the precious relic.
In the eighteenth century the architect Filippo Juvarra was called for some modifications. He created the Scala delle Forbici for the Palazzo consisting of double flights and the Chinese Cabinet decorated with eighteenth-century frescoes by Claudio Francesco Beaumont, court artist during the reign of Charles Emmanuel III. Juvarra will also draw up the project and related drawings of the magnificent “Cabinet for the Secret Manege of State Affairs”. An environment, highly decorated both in the vault, with paintings by Claudio Francesco Beaumont, both in the boiserie, with mirrors and carved and gilded woods. Also in the same room, there are the two large furniture of the cabinetmaker, Pietro Piffetti. The two pieces of furniture, facing each other, are more than 3 meters high and are made with precious woods, ivory, mother of pearl and bronze decorations. In the small adjoining room which takes the name of “andito al Pregadio”, there are the magnificent panels painted by Carlo Andrea Van Loo.
In the nineteenth century the restoration and modification works are entrusted to Ernesto Melano and Pelagio Palagi who are inspired by ancient times and Egyptian culture. Palagi created the large gate with the statues of Castor and Pollux, which closes the square in front of the Palace. Shortly after the unification of Italy, the Staircase of Honor was built based on a project by Domenico Ferri. The vault of the Scalone d’Onore was painted by Paolo Emilio Morgari and represents the apotheosis of King Carlo Alberto and Duke Emanuele Filiberto.
Once the capital was moved to Rome, the Palace was transformed from a home to a public museum. The Garden was redesigned at the end of the seventeenth century by André Le Nôtre with various basins and suggestive paths decorated with fountains and statues. The garden was rearranged and restored over the years by various architects.
The balustrade is the work of Giovanni Battista Casella “de Monora” and Mattia Solari (1660).
Origins of the mansion
The palace is part of a complex of buildings, located in the city center, which can certainly be counted among the oldest and most fascinating in Turin: it is close to the sumptuous Palazzo Madama, one of the most unique combinations of ancient and medieval art., baroque and neoclassical that they remember. In this regard, Palazzo Reale is of origins, if not comparable in time to the much more remote Palazzo Madama, at least much earlier than what the austere facade may make it seem: originally, the building was used as a bishop’s palace, up to at least to the sixteenth century, which suggests a much more remote foundation.
The splendor of the bishop’s residence can only be imagined, as very little was saved from the period prior to the sixteenth century: in any case, it must have had a charm and magnificence superior to the already famous Palazzo Madama if, at the time of transferring the ducal seat from Chambéry in Turin, Emanuele Filiberto I of Savoy chose it as his personal residence, driving out its legitimate owner, after spending a few years in the adjacent castle of Palazzo Madama, perhaps not very suitable for being elevated to court.
Thus it was that the bishop was left to live in the adjacent Palazzo di San Giovanni, while the new residence of the court became the Palazzo Ducale of Turin, a passage that profoundly marked the architecture of the square and of the city itself: we are in the sixteenth century, and the urban geography of the Savoyard capital relegates the building to the edge of the boundary wall, making it an easy target for a hypothetical siege. It is no coincidence, therefore, that under Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy the city will expand starting right from the side of the palace, thus creating via Po up to piazza Vittorio Veneto.
The golden age
With the death of Carlo Emanuele I of Savoy in 1630, we begin to consider the true evolution of the Palace, which at the time of the “Grand Duke” had seen very few changes, including an internal circular temple. The parenthesis of Vittorio Amedeo I of Savoy places a woman at the top of the duchy, Maria Cristina of Bourbon-France, defined as “Madama Reale”, a great admirer of these places. And it is, in fact, by his will that, after the disasters caused by the siege of 1640, which significantly damaged the building, the rooms were rebuilt, calling the great court architect Carlo di Castellamonte, with his son Amedeo; they largely built the façade and the interiors, although many of the works that distinguished them were, as will be seen, nullified by the subsequent retouching of the palace, ordered by the sovereigns themselves starting from 1722 in honor of weddings, especially on the second floor of their firstborn.
The golden age, therefore, dates back to the great glories following the end of the reconstruction work, and which we can place as early as 1656, the year of the end of the imposing and severe facade of Amedeo di Castellamonte. But, if under the austere reign of Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy luxury seemed to vanish from the court, reduced in number and much censored in the customs and frivolities, here is that since 1722, the year of the marriage of Carlo Emanuele, heir to the throne with the Princess Palatine Christina of Bavaria-Sulsbach, luxury returned to rage in the residence, at least on the second floor, dedicated by the King of Sicily, to her son: the works, in this phase, were directed byFilippo Juvarra, and much more was achieved following the abdication of Vittorio Amedeo, when the new ruler devoted himself with extreme openness to worldly life.
And, if for the preparations of the heir Carlo Emanuele Filippo Juvarra was called to court, also for the subsequent marriages the sovereigns did not skimp on the commission: for the wedding of Vittorio Amedeo III with Marie Antoinette of Bourbon-Spain, Benedetto Alfieri was commissioned, court architect since 1739, already renowned in Piedmont as a great architect. Then, when the second son of Vittorio Amedeo III, Vittorio Emanuele, Duke of Aosta, obtained a wing of the residence, it was Carlo Randoni and Giuseppe Battista Piacenza who redesigned the rooms that today take the name of Apartments of the Duke of Aosta.
Even Charles Albert commissioned the reconstructions, for the wedding, this time, of Vittorio Emanuele II: the architect, much loved by Carlo Alberto, was Pelagio Palagi, author of the huge gate, the 1835, first seen at the Palazzo.
Between 1799 and 1815 the official residence of the royal family and the court, in exile from Turin due to the Napoleonic occupation, temporarily passed to the Royal Palace of Cagliari.
With the unification of Italy, the Palace remained the seat of the monarchy until 1865: during these years, and precisely in 1862, it was the grand Staircase of Honor, designed by Domenico Ferri, wanted by Vittorio Emanuele II to celebrate the birth of new nation and to make the palace worthy of such a royal title: in this large room, large canvases and statues illustrate moments and characters of Savoy history. With a large number of furnishings and personal effects, the Savoy family then moved to Palazzo Pitti in Florence, leaving their first home as a simple accommodation for their visits to Turin.
Further works were carried out for the wedding of Umberto II of Savoy, in 1930: the fall of the monarchy in 1946 left these rooms to oblivion, so much so that many wings had to be heavily restored, such as those of the Dukes of Aosta on the Second Floor.
The Royal Museums of Turin are one of the largest and most varied museum complexes in Europe and are equal, for their size and the value of the collections, to the major European royal residences. They are located in the heart of the ancient city and offer an itinerary of history, art and nature that winds through over 3 km of museum walk on 30,000 square meters of exhibition and storage spaces, 7 hectares of gardens, with evidence dating from Prehistory to modern age.
Their origin dates back to 1563, when Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia moved the capital of the duchy from Chambéry to Turin and began the great urban transformation and the enrichment of the dynastic collections.
Between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the residence, with the majestic Royal Palace in the center, expanded in the shape of a city following the orthogonal scheme of the first urban expansion towards the Po river. Inhabited by the Savoy until 1946, it is now owned by the Italian state.
Starting from 2014, the Royal Museums have brought together in a single compendium five institutions previously separated by management and control: the Royal Palace, the Royal Armory, the Royal Library, the Savoy Gallery, the Museum of Antiquities, the Royal Gardens.
The Royal Palace
In 1563, when Turin became the capital of the duchy, Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia established his residence in the bishop’s palace. The styles characterizing the building are three: baroque, rococo and neoclassical.
The exteriors of the building, in Piazza Castello, overlook the majestic scenography of the square designed by Vittozzi, connecting to the other buildings which together form the large body of the palace. The solemn facade that is offered to the visitor from Piazza Castello is therefore not the only one, but certainly, in addition to being the most important body, it is also the most famous. The large gate, erected on the site of a large portico which was later destroyed, was created by the Palagi, completed with the valuable statues of the two Dioscuri, merged by Abbondio Sangiorgio. Behind the palace, then, extend the Gardens of the Parco Regio.
“… perhaps only his architectural faculty lacked a larger scholarship than that of the King of Sardinia: and this is testified by the many and grandiose drawings which he left while dying, and which were collected by the King, in which there were very varied projects for various embellishments to be done in Turin, and among others to rebuild that very disconcerting wall, which divides the Piazza del Castello from the Piazza del Palazzo Reale; wall which is called, I don’t know why, the Pavilion. ”
(Vittorio Alfieri, Life of Vittorio Alfieri from Asti, chap. 28)
Thus Vittorio Alfieri, referring to his uncle, Benedetto Alfieri, addresses the external wall of the building towards the end of the eighteenth century: what we see today, decidedly elegant, with the famous Palagi gate, is in fact different from what it might have appeared to the eyes dell’astigiano: the austere appearance of the building is in line with the baroque architecture, but devoid of frills, of the whole square. Its façade, 107 meters long, has an average height of thirty meters, nothing compared to the scenic majesty of the Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi, but at the same time suitable for the purpose assigned to this building: the strategic center from which to exercise power.
Observing the facade of the building you immediately notice the geometry and balance of the two side pavilions, signed by the architects Carlo di Castellamonte and Amedeo di Castellamonte, the symmetry is interrupted by the majestic elevation, on the left, of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, destined to preserve one of the most precious jewels in the hands of the House of Savoy, namely the Sacro Linteo.
“The interior of the royal palace is astonishing: up to now I would not know what else to compare it to in the richness and vivacity of its tapestries, which look like paintings. The beautiful floors, the porcelains, the paintings of every school, everything is precious: you would not see a corner, door, or window in it without it. ”
(Girolamo Orti, enlarged collection of travel writings)
This is the impression that Count Girolamo Orti had when visiting the interiors of the Royal Palace in the first half of the nineteenth century, made so sumptuous by the skill of the artists who worked over the centuries. A few names are enough to have the level of refinement reached: Isidoro Bianchi, Claudio Francesco Beaumont, Rocco Comaneddi, Giuseppe Paladino, Francesco de Mura, Angelo Maria Crivelli, Giovanni (Johann) Carlone, Vittorio Amedeo Cignaroli, Leonardo Marini, Michele Antonio Milocco, Giuseppe Duprà, Massimo d’Azeglio, and then Jean-Baptiste van Loo, Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo, Pietro Piffetti: the level of friezes, decorations, art in general reached here some of the highest peaks of the time.
Generally referred to as the First Piano Nobile, it is dominated by a courtly style, aimed at emphasizing the importance of the dynasty; Particular value is given to some rooms, among them the Chinese Living Room, a large part of Beaumont’s work, already active in that period at the Great Gallery, which then took his name, at the Royal Armory, the imposing Gallery of Daniel, from the seventeenth century, frescoed by the Viennese Daniel Seiter, whose magnificence rivaled the Gallery of Mirrors of Versailles, which inspired it before being transformed, under the reign of Charles Albert, into a picture gallery with portraits of historical figures linked to the House of Savoy.
Also of great value are the King’s Winter Apartment and the Throne Room.
The rooms on the first floor were furnished with carved and gilded ceilings and large allegorical paintings by Jan Miel and Charles Dauphin, whose subjects exalt the virtues of the sovereign according to the program of the court rhetorician Emanuele Tesauro. In 1688 Daniel Seyter was called from Rome to fresco the gallery since then known as “del Daniel”. Seyter, flanked by the Genoese Bartolomeo Guidobono, also intervened in the apartment on the ground floor, later known as Madama Felicita.
At the end of the seventeenth century, the layout of the garden was revised and enlarged by the famous French architect André Le Notre. When Vittorio Amedeo II obtained the royal title, in 1713, the so-called “command area” was created, annexed to the palace and made up of Secretariats, Offices, Teatro Regio and State Archives. The director of these interventions was Filippo Juvarra, who also created the Scala delle Forbici and the Chinese Cabinet.
You enter the Second Floor thanks to one of the greatest masterpieces of the architect Filippo Juvarra: the staircase called “delle Forbici”, in which the Messina gives us one of his most ingenious and, at the same time, fascinating finds: an imposing marble staircase, which seems to hover upwards with a light and sinuous volute, unloads all its weight on the adjacent walls, those of the external wall of the building, so as not to weigh excessively on the floor below, made of wood, a material that, therefore, it would hardly have borne the weight of marble. In this case, Juvarra maintains the large windows overlooking the courtyard behind the building, in order to provide the room, which is not very spacious, with an effective source of external lighting.
The position of first royal architect passed to Benedetto Alfieri, who defined the decorative elements of the apartments on the second floor and set up the new rooms of the Archives, frescoed by Francesco De Mura and Gregorio Guglielmi.
At the time of Carlo Alberto (1831-1849) some rooms on the main floor were renovated under the direction of Pelagio Palagi, such as the Salone degli Svizzeri and the Sala del Consiglio, and other rooms on the second floor; in 1862 the new grand staircase was built. With the transfer of the capital from Turin to Florence and then to Rome, the palace gradually lost its functions of residence. Since 1955 it has been handed over to the Superintendence for Architectural and Landscape Heritage; today it is part of the Royal Museums.
Apartments of the Principe di Piemonte
The second floor bears a strong imprint, due to the continuous works commissioned by the sovereigns for their first-born, which combines, in many rooms, styles and fashions different according to the eras. These reorganization works, due to the taste of the moment, often damaged, as already observed, the pre-existing works (emblematic, the ceilings, or the frescoes); in 1660 the painter Giovanni Andrea Casella collaborated in the execution of the frieze in the Sala delle Virtù (later known as the Staffieri). The stucco decoration of the various rooms is due to Pietro Somazzi.
For the weddings of 1722, 1750 and 1775, therefore, rearrangements were made that touched the entire floor, before it was shared with the rooms of the Duke of Aosta. In particular, we remember the great Ballroom, of typical Alfieri style: the room, decorated with large tapestries depicting the Stories of Don Quixote, is then connected with the equally fascinating Little Gallery of Beaumont, which served as a link with wings of Vittorio Emanuele I.
Typically Palagian imprint instead have the Three Antechambers (Bodyguard Room, Staffieri Room, Paggi Room), and the rooms used, in the twentieth century, as private rooms of Princess Maria José: ceilings and floors, still bearing traces of the designs preferred by Carlo Alberto of Savoy.
Apartments of the Duke of Aosta
Dominated by the footprints of Piacenza and Randoni, as well as by the skilful manufacture of Bonzanigo, the ducal apartments are intended for Vittorio Emanuele I, Duke of Aosta, and for his wife Maria Teresa. Their location, in the building plan, places them in the area close to the Royal Armory building.
Of importance in these rooms is the small Chinese Cabinet, a melting pot of oriental stuccoes and lacquers, skilfully worked by Bonzanigo and his team to recreate typical images of the fabulous Orient.
The Royal Armory of Turin is one of the richest collections of ancient arms and armor in the world together with the Royal Armory of Madrid, the Imperial Armory of Vienna and that of the Knights of Malta. These weapons, admirable for their manufacture and for metal ornamentation with drawings and sculptures in low or high relief or in hollows and gilding and work of art, the Royal Armory is very rich.
The Royal Armory located in the connecting sleeve between the Royal Palace and the Secretariats of State (now the seat of the Prefecture), within a complex belonging to the UNESCO site of the Savoy Residences, registered in the World Heritage list since 1997. The Armory makes part of the Royal Museums of Turin, which since 2012 has brought together the Royal Palace, theGalleria Sabauda, the Archaeological Museum and the Royal Library.
The structure includes the staircase by Benedetto Alfieri (1738-1740), the Rotonda room (1842), the Beaumont gallery, designed by Filippo Juvarra (1732-1734), completed by Alfieri after 1762 and decorated with oil on the wall by Claudio Francesco Beaumont, who represented on the vault the Stories of Aeneas (1738-1743), and finally the medal collection designed by Pelagio Palagi (1835-1838).
The idea of establishing a museum dedicated to weapons dates back to the end of 1832 when Carlo Alberto, after having founded the “Regia Pinacoteca”, began to collect in the Beaumont Gallery, now emptied of the large canvases that adorned the walls, the weapons owned of the Savoy. In 1837 the Armory was opened to the public.
Starting from the nucleus of weapons from the Museum of Antiquities and the arsenals of Turin and Genoa, the collection was significantly expanded with the purchase of the collections belonging to the Milanese scenographer Alessandro Sanquirico (1833) and to the Martinengo della Fabbrica family from Brescia (1839).). Even later the Armory continued to be enriched with other weapons and relics coming both from the personal collections of the kings of Italy and from purchases and donations, often connected to diplomatic activity. From the latter derive, for example, oriental and African weapons and armor.
In 1842 the rooms of the Rotonda were added to the Beaumont Gallery, designed by Pelagio Palagi, conceived to house the most recent collections of the Carloalbertino museum, including the collection of oriental weapons. This sector was further enriched after 1878 with the donation of the personal collections of Carlo Alberto and Vittorio Emanuele II. With the advent of the Republic in 1946, the Armory – until then employed by the Ministry of the Royal House – became a state museum.
After a series of rearrangement and restoration works completed in 2005, the historicizing structure of the collection was restored based on scenographic criteria. The Armory currently has more than 5,000 objects ranging from prehistoric times to the early twentieth century, among which one of the most important nuclei is made up of sixteenth-century weapons and armor. The Royal Medal Cabinet is also attached to the Armory, intended to collect, in the precious Palagian furniture, the collection of coins and a selection of classic antiques and precious objects by Carlo Alberto.
The Armory holds numerous types of weapons and armor, from the Neolithic to the 20th century. Valuable medieval weapons, numerous specimens of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many pieces that belonged to the Savoy rulers.
The objects initially came from the Arsenals of Turin and Genoa and from the collections of the Museum of Antiquities. To these were added specimens purchased in the antiques market, including the important collection of the Milanese scenographer Alessandro Sanquirico (1833) and the conspicuous collection belonging to the Martinengo della Fabbrica family from Brescia (1839). In 1840 the Museum was equipped with its first catalog which described 1554 objects and contained a series of lithographic reproductions useful to facilitate their study and promotion.
Among the most important pieces are the sword of San Maurizio, a precious relic that belonged to the Savoy family, datable to the 13th century and kept together with its 15th century case in embossed, gilded and painted leather; the horse bit decorated with enamel, of Neapolitan manufacture from the mid-fourteenth century; the trio of three-barreled wheel-launchers that belonged to the Emperor Charles V of Habsburg; the parade plaque of Henry II; the armours belonging to Emanuele Filiberto and those made by the Milanese armorer Pompeo della Cesa; a musket and a bow bus richly decorated in ivory by the German engraver Adam Sadeler (c. 1600); the sword used byNapoleon Bonaparte in the Egyptian campaign and in the battle of Marengo; the weapons that belonged to the kings of Sardinia and then of Italy, including the Japanese armor offered in 1870 to Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy and a Smith & Wesson Russian model revolver donated to Vittorio Emanuele III. Also noteworthy is the collection of over 250 flags, mostly related to the history of the Savoy and the Sardinian army during the wars of the Italian Risorgimento.
The medal collection derives from the Cabinet of Medals of King Charles Albert of Savoy, who in 1832 bought the collection of ancient and medieval coins of Domenico Promis, who was simultaneously appointed curator of the Cabinet. Through purchases and gifts, the collection of coins, medals and seals was increased to the current consistency of about 33,000 pieces. Between 1835 and 1838 Carlo Alberto had a room attached to the Beaumont Gallery specially rearranged by the architect Pelagio Palagi, who designed the neo-Greek furniture for this purpose, in which various antique pieces and precious objects from the Royal Palace are exhibited..
The Sabauda Gallery is a picture gallery located in Turin and is one of the most important pictorial collections in Italy. The Palai du Roy confirms an immense quantity of the Tables of the greatest masters of the Schools of Italy and Flanders. They are well preserved and arranged with as much taste and order as they could be in the cabinet of a curious and an amateur. Housed in the Manica Nuova of the Royal Palace, within the complex of the Royal Museums of Turin, it houses over 700 paintings ranging from the 13th to the 20th century.
Among the most interesting contents there is a particularly important collection of Piedmontese authors, including Giovanni Martino Spanzotti, Macrino d’Alba, Gerolamo Giovenone, Bernardino Lanino, Il Moncalvo, Tanzio da Varallo, Gaudenzio Ferrari and Defendente Ferrari, a vast assortment of works produced by the major names in Italian painting, such asBeato Angelico, Duccio di Boninsegna, Piero del Pollaiolo, Andrea Mantegna, Bronzino, Filippino Lippi, Daniele da Volterra, Il Veronese, Tintoretto, Guercino, Orazio Gentileschi, Giambattista Tiepolo, Guido Reni, Bernardo Bellotto and one of the best Italian groups of paintings of the Flemish school, with names such as Van Dyck, Rubens, Rembrandt, the Brueghel,Memling and Van Eyck.
The Galleria Sabauda was established in 1832 by the will of Carlo Alberto, initially welcoming the collections from the Royal Palace of Turin, the Savoy gallery and the Durazzo palace in Genoa (purchased in 1824), increased with purchases and donations along the course of the nineteenth century to integrate or fill the gaps present in the Savoyard collections, especially as regards the Italian Renaissance.
The Royal Gallery was initially set up on the noble floor of Palazzo Madama; in 1860 it was sold to the state by Vittorio Emanuele II and in 1865 the museum was moved to the second floor of the Academy of Sciences building. In 1930 the Pinacoteca was further enriched by the donation of the ancient art collection of the Piedmontese industrialist Riccardo Gualino including paintings, sculptures, precious objects, furniture and archaeological finds from different eras and cultures, which was set up as a house-museum.
In December 2014 the Museum changed its location and its collections were rearranged in the so-called Manica Nuova of the Royal Palace, built between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century by the court architect Emilio Stramucci. About 500 works by Piedmontese, Italian, Dutch, Flemish and European artists are currently exhibited on four levels of visit in a chronological period ranging from the fourteenth to the twentieth century.
Among the works of the Italian masters from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century you can admire paintings by Beato Angelico, Pollaiolo, Filippino Lippi, Mantegna and Paolo Veronese. Works by Piedmontese painters such as Martino Spanzotti, Defendente Ferrari, Macrino d’Alba and Gaudenzio Ferrari are on display.
Among the Italian paintings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries we can include Lombard and Caravaggesque works, including the beautiful Annunciation by Orazio Gentileschi, masterpieces by Guido Reni, Guercino, Sebastiano Ricci, Francesco Solimena, Giuseppe Maria Crespi and the famous views of Turin made by Bernardo Bellotto.
The Galleria Sabauda also boasts a rich presence of Flemish and Dutch school paintings from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century: among the primitives there are tables by Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling. Extraordinary in importance and pictorial quality are the Portrait of an old man by Rembrandt van Rijn, the two canvases depicting Hercules and Dejanira by Pieter Paul Rubens, the sons of Charles I of England and Prince Thomas of Savoy-Carignano on horseback, by Anton van Dyck. Works by Gerard Dou, Paulus Potter and David Teniers come from the picture gallery of Prince Eugene of Savoy Soissons (1663-1736), a great commander in the service of the Viennese court and cultured collector.
Museum of antiquities
The Museum of Antiquities of Turin, or Archaeological Museum, was created in 1940 with the separation of the Egyptian collections (which went to make up the base of the current Egyptian Museum) and the Greek – Roman collections of the then Royal Greek-Roman Egyptians collected by the Savoy from the sixteenth century. It also preserves numerous testimonies of ancient Piedmont, with rooms dedicated to the history of Turin overlooking the remains of the Roman theater.
Around the portico on the ground floor are embedded in the wall, tombstones, Roman figures, and columns dug in the demolition of the villages, and of the ramparts of the city, and in various other parts of Piedmont, and especially among the ruins of the ancient city of Industry, which was located in Monteu di Po. On this same ground floor there is a museum of antiquities, distributed in various rooms, where very precious things are contained.
The Museum of Antiquities consists of several Sections:
the Manica Nuova, with the Archeology exhibition in Turin and the Marengo Treasure Rooms
the Territory, dedicated to the archeology of Piedmont and the “Exhibitions on the catwalk”
the Collections, the “historical” nucleus of the Museum and the setting up of the Artemidorus Papyrus
Since 2013, the underground floor of the Manica Nuova of Palazzo Reale has been the site of the renewed setting up of the Marengo Treasury and the Archeology exhibition in Turin which presents the archaeological materials of the city, coming from the collections of sixteenth-century scholars, increased by the antiquaries of the following centuries and merged into the royal collections, together with the new acquisitions resulting from recent archaeological excavations. The section connects with the archaeological area of the Roman theater which it partially contains and overlooks.
The section of the Territory has been set up, since 1998, in a new architectural structure, partly underground, which exhibits the archaeological materials found in Piedmont in the past and in the most recent excavations. An ideal journey back in time winds along the exhibition itinerary to meet one after another, as in the realities of the archaeological excavation, the many and surprising testimonies of ancient Piedmont. Small temporary exhibitions alternate on the connecting walkway between the Manica Nuova and the Collections pavilion.
The Historical Collections (in partial rearrangement) represent the original nucleus of the Museum formed when Duke Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia (1553-1580) began the collection of antiquities, increased by his successors and rearranged by Vittorio Amedeo II, king of Sardinia, who donates to the University of Turin. The archaeological collections found in 1989 accommodation in the Orangeries of the Royal Palace, home to the preparation of the Papyrus of Artemidorus since 2014.
The Royal Library of Turin is one of the most important cultural institutions of the city, houses over 200,000 volumes, ancient maps, engravings and drawings, such as the famous “Self-portrait” by Leonardo da Vinci. The particular Library of the King is full of the most choice and beautiful modern editions of works belonging to history, travel, arts, public economy and various sciences. There are more than 30,000 printed volumes, including some in parchment and illuminated.
It was established in 1839 by Carlo Alberto, who commissioned Count Michele Saverio Provana del Sabbione to collect what was left of the book heritage in the Royal Palace after the donation of Vittorio Amedeo II to the University of Turin, and what had been stolen from the looting of the Napoleonic age.
To the residual collections Carlo Alberto added his own books and all the volumes that were given to him by various donors. The librarian Domenico Promis then played a fundamental role in the development of the library, identifying the possibility of creating a specialized collection in the history of the ancient Sardinian states and in military, heraldry and numismatics topics..
In 1840 the library already possessed 30,000 volumes, all of considerable value. The growth of the heritage entailed its accommodation in the wing below the Beaumont Gallery, in the rooms set up by the architect Pelagio Palagi. The painters Marco Antonio Trefogli and Angelo Moja, based on drawings by Palagi, painted the barrel vault of the central hall in monochrome, as attested by the payment sheets dated 1841.
The growth of the institution slowed down considerably with the advent to the throne of Vittorio Emanuele II, who was not very sensitive to the care of books, and with the move of the capital first to Florence and then to Rome.
The kings, however, continued to send the books received as a gift to Turin.
An important acquisition was determined through the gift of the code on the flight of birds by Leonardo da Vinci by Count Teodoro Sabachnikoff.
The advent of the Republic after the Second World War saw the library pass, albeit after a long dispute with the Savoy family which ended in 1973, to the Italian state.
The library currently holds about 200,000 printed volumes, 4,500 manuscripts, 3,055 drawings, 187 incunabula, 5,019 sixteenth century, 20,987 pamphlets, 1,500 parchments, 1,112 periodicals, 400 photo albums, and numerous engravings and geographical maps.
The self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci
Among the preserved materials, the most important relic is the self- portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, sold to King Carlo Alberto by the collector Giovanni Volpato in 1839 and kept in an underground section of the library.
The drawings of the Swiss school
In the collection of drawings, alongside the masterpieces of Hans Burgkmair, Albrecht Dürer, Wolfgang Huber, Nicolas Knüpfer, Christian Wilhhelm Ernst Dietrich, in the section dedicated to the masters of German culture, there are only three examples of the Swiss school.
With the purchase by Carlo Alberto of the Giovanni Volpato collection in 1839, an autograph by the eighteenth-century painter Sigmund Freudenberger and two drawings by the sixteenth-century artist Urs Graf entered the collection. These, in pen and gray and black ink, depict Two couples of dancing peasants, date from 1528 and are signed with the monogram used by Graf since 1518, a letter G crossed by the dagger.
The two sheets are part of a series of other drawings with the same subject preserved in Paris (École des Beaux-Arts), Saint-Winoc Abbey (Bergues Museum), Basel and Berlin (Kupferstichkabinett) and the Paul Getty Museum respectively. of Los Angeles There is a reference to the same theme created by Albrecht Dürer in 1514, but here Graf wanted to highlight the depravity and carnality of the two, with aged faces and lacerated clothes
Chapel of the Holy Shroud
Above a rotunda entirely of black marble, with arches and pillars of beautiful and large proportions, the dome with overlapping and alternating hexagonal zones rises, light and fantastic as in Indian temples; reached a certain height, the internal part converges rapidly, and is all pierced by triangular lights, until the space, made narrow, is closed by a carved star that lets you see through its compartments another time on which the Saint is painted Spirit in glory.
The historical-architectural events that led to the construction of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud in its current configuration are very long and troubled and cover a time span of about eighty years (1611-1694).
The Chapel of the Holy Shroud was originally commissioned by the Duke Carlo Emanuele di Savoia to Carlo di Castellamonte (1611) to preserve the precious relic, kept by the Savoy ducal family from 1453 and transported to Turin in 1578.
Over time, however, the projects were first modified by Amedeo di Castellamonte, son of Carlo di Castellamonte, and, after him, by the Swiss Bernardino Quadri (1657), who was responsible for the design of a square-based building set between the ducal palace (former episcopal palace and future Royal Palace) and the apse of the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista.
In 1667 the project was ultimately entrusted to the Theatine friar, and great architect of the Baroque, Guarino Guarini who revolutionized and completed (until 1683, the year of his death) the project of Bernardino Quadri by creating the raised circular internal plan of a level with respect to to the presbytery of the Cathedral, thus placing it directly in communication with the courtly rooms on the first floor of the Royal Palace.
The construction site closed definitively in 1694, when the relic of the SS. The Shroud was moved to the Guarini Chapel to be placed in the central altar designed by Antonio Bertola.
In the first half of the nineteenth century the Chapel of the Holy Shroud was finally adorned with four sculptural groups commissioned by King Carlo Alberto representing the great figures of the House of Savoy (Tommaso I, Amedeo VIII, Emanuele Filiberto and Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy).
From 1694 until the early nineties of the twentieth century, the Chapel of the Holy Shroud kept the precious relic, now preserved in the transept of the Turin Cathedral.
In the night between 11 and 12 April 1997, the Chapel of the Holy Shroud was affected by a fire of vast proportions that deeply damaged the building, making it necessary to carry out a long and demanding architectural and structural restoration, aimed at restoring the its own bearing capacity and its own image. This intervention, which represents one of the most complex that has ever been addressed in the context of this discipline, also in consideration of the fact that the resistant structure of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud had never been investigated before, is going to the final phase, under the direction of a specific Commission, composed of representatives of the institutes of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (Regional Secretariat for Piedmont, Royal Museums of
After the long and difficult restoration, the admirable Baroque architecture of Guarino Guarini is finally returned to the world, accessible to the public on the tour of the Royal Museums. The opening ceremony is scheduled for Thursday 27 September 2018 and the public will be able to admire the Chapel of the Shroud from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 September with a special 3 Euro entrance ticket. From Tuesday 2 October access will be included in the usual Royal Museums ticket. The restoration was financed by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities with the support of Compagnia di San Paolo, La Stampa Foundation – Specchio dei Tempi, the Turin Council for the Valorisation of Artistic and Cultural Heritage, IREN and Performance in Lighting.
The rooms on the ground floor of Palazzo Chiablese, historically intended for service areas and almost devoid of decorations, host the temporary exhibitions of the Royal Museums. The exhibitions are often dedicated to great international artists and allow the visitor to take a journey through history and art, from the Roman era to the twentieth century.
Palazzo Chiablese is one of the noble palaces in the historic center of Turin, whose events are linked to the history of the Royal House of Savoy. Belonging to the buildings that make up the command area, it is connected to the Royal Palace by an internal passage and has the main entrance and the historic view of Piazza San Giovanni.
With a seventeenth-century layout, the Palazzo was redesigned in 1753 by the architect Benedetto Alfieri on behalf of the King to be used as the residence of Benedetto Maria Maurizio, Duke of Chiablese, from which it takes its name. The majestic staircase leading to the main floor dates back to this period, where there are sumptuous decorations, stuccos, furnishings, painted over doors and boiserie.
The Palace, used over the centuries as the residence of the Savoy, was damaged during the Second World War and later passed to the State which restored it and used it as the seat of the Regional Directorate for Cultural and Landscape Heritage of Piedmont and the Superintendencies.
The rooms on the ground floor of Palazzo Chiablese, historically intended for service areas and almost devoid of decorations, host the temporary exhibitions of the Royal Museums. The exhibitions are often dedicated to the great international artists and allow the visitor to take a journey through history and art, from the Roman era to the twentieth century.
The Royal Gardens
The Royal Gardens of Turin are green areas located behind the Royal Palace and the Palazzo della Prefettura – Armeria Reale, in the heart of Turin, between piazza Castello and corso San Maurizio; the lower part of the gardens is public. Emanuele Filiberto wanted to make the capital of his warlike duchy, the Royal Gardens of the Palace took shape as inspiration to the major palaces in Europe, then decorated with elegant gardens, a kind of Tuscan idea (just think to the Medici villas).
There are six main gardens in Turin, and two of them, the Valentino and the Royal Garden, can compete with any other of this kind in terms of width, vagueness and elegance of shape, design, avenues. The Royal Garden, which with the kind concession of the Sovereign is freely open to the public and as such can be considered for public use, is one of the most pleasant walks for Turin and foreigners. And in the heart of the city, annexed to the Royal Palace and was built where in the old days the bastions were, the bulwark of the metropolis.
Behind the palace, towards the ring road, lies the R. Giardino supported by the ancient ramparts. He did it in the regular genre, introduced by Le Nôtre for the gardens of Louis XIV, the French Dupacs or Duparc. It is adorned with a large fountain with Tritons, vases and statues. Some of its parts were just styled in the modern style. What is most delightful about it is the large avenue next to the secretariats.
The Royal Gardens extend behind the Royal Palace and, what is visible today, is largely the work of the architect André Le Nôtre. Le Nôtre, already active at the court of Versailles, by order of the Bourbons, reflected what was a characteristic of the European noble gardens, the water games and the floral perspective. Already in the epoch of Carlo Emanuele I and Vittorio Amedeo I the garden had undergone considerable enlargements, but it is substantially from the late seventeenth century that, with the work of De Marne (who implemented the projects of de Nôtre), the real splendors.
When they began to rise, they were located on the extreme periphery of that Savoy Turin that Emanuele Filiberto wanted to make the capital of his warlike duchy. They took shape inspired by the major palaces in Europe, then decorated with elegant gardens, a kind of Tuscan idea (just think of the Medici villas).
What is visible today is largely the work of the architect André Le Nôtre, already active at the court of Versailles by order of the Bourbons and reflected what was a characteristic of European noble gardens: the water games and floral perspectives. Already in the era of Carlo Emanuele I and Vittorio Amedeo I of Savoy, the garden had undergone notable enlargements, but it is substantially from the late seventeenth century that the real and own splendors.
At the center of the enclosed part of the gardens you can see a white marble basin with the Fountain of Nereid and the Tritons in the center, more simply called “Fountain of the Tritons”. It is a work depicting mythological figures: a Nereid (sea nymph) surrounded by Tritons (the sons of the god Poseidon. In turn, the basin is surrounded by twelve statuettes of half human and half aquatic beings. The work was conceived. by the court sculptor Simone Martinez (1689-1768) in 1765 – 1768, it is currently in severe decay and should be restored.
Sad degradation of the whole green complex occurred during the Napoleonic period, during which there was no lack of looting and looting, which ended only in 1805 following the appointment of the garden as Imperial Park. Before the return of the Savoy, following the Restoration, that Giuseppe Battista Piacenza who had already worked on the second floor of the Royal Palace was commissioned to restore some eighteenth-century statues depicting the Four Seasons and large celebratory vases from the royal palace of Venaria Reale, and basically this was the last major modification that the garden underwent; some more statues were placed towards the end of the 19th century, when, by the will of Vittorio Emanuele II, the marble representations of Amedeo VI of Savoy, Vittorio Amedeo I and Vittorio Amedeo II were placed here, but the move of the capital to Florence drastically reduced the importance of the place.
The Royal Gardens constitute a unique urban green area for monumental and environmental value, they develop in the portion still enclosed by the Bastions, on a total area of about seven hectares. The first plant dates back to the time of Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia (1528-1580) and subsequently important changes took place at the end of the seventeenth century and in 1886. The route includes the Ducal Garden, north of the Royal Palace, the Garden of Arts to the east, resulting from the enlargement wanted by Carlo Emanuele II (1634-1675) and the Boschetto, in the north-east sector, of nineteenth-century origin. The stone furniture has its centerpiece in Simone Martinez’s fountain of the Tritons (1756), with large vases by Ignazio and Filippo Collino, statues and benches.
In 1997, following the tragic fire that hit the Shroud Chapel, the Royal Gardens were closed to the public. In 2008, restoration work began, financed by the European Regional Development Fund, which led to the partial reopening in 2016, while in the area of the Garden of Arts, restoration work is underway and will end in 2018. In the two-year period 2018 -2019 the improvement interventions of the Giardino del Duca and the Giardino delle Arti will be completed, at the end of which the Royal Gardens will be returned to the public in their ancient splendor.
The Garden of the Duke
The area of the Ducal Garden is the oldest of the Royal Gardens. The works have allowed the recovery of the late nineteenth-century intervention of the Roda brothers wanted in 1886 by Umberto I, on the occasion of the wedding of his brother Amedeo Ferdinando with Maria Letizia Bonaparte. At the center of the garden a fountain with jets has been placed, taken from the historical drawings of the garden. The edge of the basin is made up of granite slabs recovered from the stone quarries that Guarino Guarini chose in the seventeenth century to obtain the marbles that decorated the Chapel of the Shroud.
The transformation of the Boschetto, thanks to the intervention of the architect Paolo Pejrone, finds a new look. At the foot of the large trees a new undergrowth is set up: a blanket of shade plants, shrubs and herbaceous plants creates a play of shadows, while wide orthogonal avenues define the spaces in large, regular-shaped flower beds. Inside the Boschetto, the installation Pietre Preziose by the artist Giulio Paolini is permanently located: original marbles, damaged by fire, from the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, a seventeenth-century masterpiece by Guarino Guarini which preserved the Holy Shroud, take on new life and become a work of ‘art. In the words of Giulio Paolini: “Someone (the author) is here, centuries later, to note an architecture in ruins, fragments that have fallen and are diverted from their original location”.
The Garden of Arts
Obtained from the construction of the new bastions following the enlargement of the city commissioned by Carlo Emanuele II (1634-1675), the Garden of the Arts, proposes the axial layout of avenues and perspectives designed by André Le Nôtre (1613-1700), the designer of the gardens of Versailles. The restoration works of this area of the Gardens foresee a conservative restoration by re-proposing the square entrance downstream of the staircase of the Levante Apartment of the Palazzo. The slight slope of the central avenue creates a spectacular perspective escape that leads to the fascinating Fountain of the Nereids and Tritons, built in 1755 by the sculptor Simone Martinez. Inside the tank, the mythological figures play with the water in a riot of jets wanted by the King.
The walls and the “Garittone”
The Royal Gardens are delimited by the ancient walls of the city of Turin. Along the perimeter of the walls is the building of the “Garittone” or Bastion Verde, a building erected at the end of the seventeenth century for defensive and military purposes and located in correspondence with the Bastion of San Maurizio. Designed by the architect of the Court Ascanio Vittozzi, it is recognizable by its sloping roof in the French style, and was used by the Royal Madams as a miroir towards the plain that extended outside the city walls.
The Lower Gardens
This part of the Royal Gardens is separated from the Upper Royal Gardens by the ramparts of the city wall. Within these gardens, the building that was once used as the Royal Greenhouse or Orangerie, now houses the Archaeological Museum. In 1864 a portion of the lower garden was adapted to house the Royal Zoological Garden, commissioned by Vittorio Emanuele II.