Savoy Residences in Turin (World Heritage)

From 1562 Turin, the new capital of the House of Savoy, was equipped with baroque squares, arcaded streets and palaces. Magnificent baroque palaces were built around Piazza Castello and the adjacent Piazza Reale to the north, including the Palazzo Reale, the Palazzo Madama, originally a Roman gate, and the Palazzo Carignano. The Stupinigi hunting lodge was built in the Rococo style southwest of Turin.

Savoy Residences in Turin: Facts

Official title: Residences of the House of Savoy in Turin and the surrounding area
Cultural monument: including Palazzo Reale, Palazzo Madama, in the core a fort from 1416, Palazzo Chiablese, the government palace of Karl Emanuel III., Stupinigi, hunting lodge of Victor Amadeus II., and Venaria, another hunting lodge of the House of Savoy
Continent: Europe
Country: Italy, Piedmont
Location: Turin
Appointment: 1997
Meaning: Examples of European monumental architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries as an expression of absolutism

Savoy Residences in Turin: History

1536 French occupation of Turin
1557 Victory of the Spaniards and Savoy at St. Quentin over the French
1563 under Duke Emanuel Philibert (reign 1553-80) Turin as the capital of the Duchy of Savoy
1646-58 Core building of the Palazzo Reale
1676-1736 Filippo Juvarra
1690 with the participation of Savoy and Spain alliance against France; Ceiling frescoes in the dining room of the Palazzo Reale
1701-13 Participation of the House of Savoy in the War of the Spanish Succession against France
1713 in the Treaty of Utrecht, Sicily falls to the House of Savoy
1718-21 Conversion of the medieval fort into Palazzo Madama by the widow of Karl Emanuel II (reign 1638-75); Sardinia falls to the House of Savoy with the title of king
1730-73 Reign of Charles Emanuel III, Duke of Savoy, King of Sardinia

The baroque Italian cabbage junker

You like baroque – or you don’t like it, is a rule of thumb in Rome, which was one of the cradles of this architectural style full of exuberance and, with Francesco Borromini and Pietro Bernini, also cast a spell over Nordic architecture across the Alps. Entering the universe of the convex-concave play of lines, the spatial order breaking out of the frame, the oscillation between emphatic vitality and a “memento-mori coquetry” triggers subjective likes or dislikes. Even if, as with the residences of those of Savoy in and around Turin, which are praised as the “crown of delight”, one cannot avoid the realization that the baroque is not a self-contained phenomenon, but flourished in a variety of readings and local influences.

According to homosociety, the fact that Turin is at the intersection between Italy and France reveals not only the kitchen, but also the pointed gables in the street scene and the rather clumsy-looking castles. The French kings occupied the capital of Piedmont for decades before the French dukes of Savoy declared the sleepy medieval provincial town their residence.

“We are the herb junkers of Italy”, you can still hear the aristocrats of Piedmont say today. You will look in vain for beautiful spirits like the Medici, Gonzaga and Este, who had harmoniously designed palaces, villas and gardens of the Renaissance created. In Turin the facades of the castles are more brittle, more defensive and mostly rectangular – even the baroque is rational.

Emanuel Philibert, who was the first to set up his residence in Turin, needed an architecture with which he could make a state. In the time of the approaching absolutism, this meant that they had the visible focus in the figure of the ruler and in his seat of power and that the residence had to be able to play a military role in the concert of the European monarchs. The new ducal palace was built on the site of the bishopric, and over the course of two centuries it developed into today’s Palazzo Reale. The city armored itself by replacing the medieval defensive walls with an extensive system of fortresses, which also included the hills beyond the Po, in order to take the enemy artillery away from the field of fire on the city.

The builder Ascanio Vitozzi, originally from central Italy, who was originally an officer and army engineer and was appointed to Turin in 1584, designed the urban planning concept, which, with its symmetrical street axes, regulated house facades, church buildings deliberately integrated into the cityscape and idiosyncratic perspectives, made Turin a unique among the Italian cities power.

The center of the Savoy domination, which adorned itself with the royal title of Sardinia from 1718, is the Piazza del Castello with the Palazzo Reale, baroque ministerial buildings and – power needs the blessing from above – the adjoining cathedral. The “vanishing points” of the mostly dead straight avenues are the pleasure and hunting castles of Rivoli, Venaria, Moncalieri, Agliè, Valentino, Villa della Regina, Racconigi and – a lively highlight – the Palazzina of Stupinigi by the architectural genius Filippo Juvarra. The monarchs were always on the move in this mini-cosmos: “This nomadism is a sign of life at court”, one reads in a chronicle from this time.

What Borromini and Bernini were to Rome, Guarino Guarini and the Sicilian Juvarra were to Turin: the opposing sides of the Baroque. The monk Guarini was a loner, a tinkerer, and the vibrating brick facade of the Palazzo Carignano with the hall ellipse brings Roman architectural frequencies into the Po metropolis. In the approaching Enlightenment, Juvarra tended towards classicism with the magnificent facade of the Palazzo Madama with nine-axis window and column structure and the symmetries of the Stupinigi. Despite the French origins: Turin looks south in the striking buildings.

Savoy Residences in Turin