Your guided visit of the historic center of Turin begins at the meeting point in Piazza Castello in the historical center of what was once the capital of the House of Savoy. Today, Turin is a bustling metropolis, and one of Italy's main cultural and business centers. It is often called the “cradle of Italian liberty” because it was the birthplace of many important personalities connected to the Risorgimento, the movement that would ultimately lead to a unified Italy in the second half of the 1800s.
The center of Piazza Castello is dominated by the Palazzo Madama, the official residence of the queens of the Savoy family, the royal Madames, with Maria Cristina of France (17th century) being the most popular among them. A splendid example of Piedmont Baroque, the palace's facade was designed by Juvarra, while the rear's architecture bears witness to the 15th century. The Palazzo Madama was seat of the first senate of the Italian kingdom, and now hosts the Museum of Ancient Art.
The Church of San Lorenzo is located on the northeast side of Piazza Castello, between Palazzo di Città and Piazzetta Reale. The space solution proposed for the dome by Guarino Guarini in the 17th century was a highly innovative element in the architectural culture of Turin. The Royal Palace and the Royal Armory can be accessed from the Piazzetta Reale. The Royal Palace, restored residence of the kings of Sardinia and the first king of Italy, traces the work of the greatest artists active in Turin between the 17th and 19th century in the splendid Savoy collections.
Before leaving Piazza Castello, we will find the entrance to the Royal Library under the Northern Arcades. It hosts a collection of drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci together with precious books and prints. Your tour then continues to Piazza San Giovanni and the Cathedral. Dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, the Cathedral is a significant example of the Renaissance in Italy and is the place where the Holy Shroud is preserved, for which Guarino Guarini added a beautifully decorated chapel with a dome in the 17th century.
Your next stop will be the heart of Roman Turin, the so-called Quadrilateral, where you'll see remains of the Roman Theater and the Palatine Gate, the most significant monuments of the Roman period in the city. They are located in Piazza Cesare Augusto with copies of Roman statues of Caesar and Augustus.
Your walking tour continues with the Basilica Mauriziana and the Consolata Sanctuary, one of the main devotional places in Turin, also adorned by works of Juvarra and Guarini. In front of the sanctuary is the charming Piazza della Consolata, surrounded by traditional shops and intimate wine bars.
You'll then take Via Garibaldi, the main commercial street that runs nowadays where the ancient Roman Decumanus, the main east-west road, once did. Via Barbaroux, the narrow parallel street along via Garibaldi, is characterized by the characteristic 18th centuries buildings and houses.
Before returning to Piazza Castello, your guide will point out a beautiful portico with three arches on columns leading into Piazza Palazzo di Città, designed by Alfieri in the 18th century. From there, you'll continue on Via Palazzo di Città, where you will see the sumptuous Baroque facade of the church of Corpus Domini, before ending the walking tour on Piazza Castello.
The Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum of Turin (the second in the world after the Cairo Museum) was established in 1824, although the University of Turin already owned an important collection of Egyptian material before this date. In the early 19th century, Carlo Felice, influenced by the interest in Egyptian culture which had been spreading all over Europe following Napoleon's campaigns in Egypt, acquired a substantial number of the finds collected by the Piedmontese Bernardino Drovetti, French consul general in Egypt. Between 1903 and 1920 the Italian Archaeological Mission launched a number of excavation campaigns along the Nile, thus acquiring additional material. New pieces were also added to the museum between 1930 and 1969. In 1988 the museum was entirely renovated.
The Most Important Items
The Drovetti Collection, which forms the original nucleus of the Egyptian Museum, gathers 98 statues, as well as an extraordinary collection of papyri which can be considered as the most important set of Egyptian written documents in the world.
Highlights of the collection include:
The Royal Papyrus, also known as the Papyrus of Turin, with the list of all the kings from 3,000 to 1,600 BC. The extraordinarily rich linen cloth, discovered in 1930 in a prehistorical and unplundered tomb at Gebelein. The linen pieces are the most ancient painted in the world (between 4,300 and 3,500 BC). They depict boats, hunting scenes, and ritual dances.
The Ellesija Temple from Nubia dates back to more than 3,500 years ago, and was presented by the Egyptian government to Italy following the works carried out by the Italian mission in removing monuments and temples from the area of the Assuan Dike. In order to be transported to Italy, it was extracted and then reconstructed in the museum.
The Tomb of Kha, discovered in 1906 during the excavation campaign carried out by the Italian archaeological mission in Deir-el-Medina, is the most impressive and remarkable ensemble of the whole museum. Dating back to 3,500 BC, it houses sarcophagi and statues, as well as furniture, garments and grooming items.