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Monuments in Turin

The monuments in Turin: antonellian mass with clouds, Turin

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The Mole Antonelliana (the Antonelliana Mass), which is the real symbol of the city of Turin, takes its name from the architect of Novara Alessandro Antonelli, who built it between 1863 and 1889, through financial vicissitudes and polemics about its stability.

In the original plan, Antonelli put toghether his neoclassical culture and the local baroque tradition, forcing the structures to their balanced limits through the use of iron chains. The cupola raises on this structure: this building, with a squared plant, has a ponderous inferior part, whose façade has got classical features. Over the façade, raises up the high quadrangular dome. It is surmounted by a two-structured little temple, which sustains the thin steeple.

It was built with a building frame structure and without the use of metal structures, which were too onerous in Italy at the time. Inside decorations were completely destroyed by the redecoration works that started in 1930; these works brought the creation of a separate building, made of reinforced concrete, which replaced the antonellian one. Still today many people wonder why the 65 years-old flighty architect wanted to achieve such a difficult undertaking with such hardy architectonic results.

Some say it has been craziness and megalomania, while others say he had magical and occult aims. It's certain that the Mole is surrounded with an aura of mistery still today.

The Antonellian Mole should have been the jewish temple of the Turin Israel Communion. Later the Communion sold it to the City of Turin because the building implied increasingly high costs. Therefore, it became the site of the Civic Museum. When Vittorio Emanuele II died in 1878, the city council designated it for the site of the National Remembrance of the Italian Independence. In this way the Mole became the symbol of Turin, a city that cultivates the love for the country and for the cult of positive science and modernity at the same time.

Today the Mole is the site of the National Museum of Cinema, which was before located in Palazzo Chiablese.

It is 167,5 metres high and above the cupola there is a bright sculpture by Mario Merz, which is much talked about. It was put there for some years and it is named "Il volo dei numeri". The panoramic lift leads in just 59 seconds to the balcony, which is 85 meters from the ground; it is open 365 days a year and it allows people to see Turin from a unique point of view. The Mole live


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The monuments in Turin: Porte Palatine

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Porte Palatine The Porte Palatine (Palatine Doors) are the doors of the romanic city Augusta Taurinorum (Porta Principalis) and they belong to the medieval fortress from which they take their name, the Palatium. They overlook the square of the Dome and they are also overlooking the characteristical market of Porta Palazzo and the Museo of Antichità.

From the side of Via XX Settembre it is possible to see the ruins of the Roman Theatre.

Basilica di Superga

The Basilica raises over the hill of Superga, one of the highest and panoramic points of the city. This place was chosen by the duke Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoia, who wanted to build it to thank the Virgin Mary for the defeat of the French siege in 1704.

This wonderful Basilica was built by the architect from Messina Filippo Juvarra; this is his most significant architectural work. The Basilica was unveiled in 1731 by Carlo Emanuele II. In the big mausoleum, which has been built in the underground, there are the sepulchers of the sabaudian kings, from Vittorio Amedeo II to Carlo Alberto, and the numerous princes of Savoia's Family.

The entrance to the church is constituted by three staircases that lead to the classical-styled pronao. Beside the porch there are two shapes from which arise the beautiful bell towers.

The map is octagonal and it has cornerpillars. Some corinthian columns, which are put on basements with a concave course, are leaning onto the pillars. The lateral chapels preserve paintings by Ricci and Beaumont and the marble pales made by Cametti and Cornacchini.

To the left of the Basilica's entrance there is the access to the tombs of the kings; behind the religious building there is the convent that gave hospitality to the Congregation of the regular priest wanted by Vittorio Amedeo.

On 4th May 1949, the plane that was bringing back home the football team of the great Turin from Lisbon, crashed into the backside of the building. This air crash caused one of the most terrible tragedies of the Italian afterwar. In the backside of the church there's a memorial stone dedicated to those champions and to their team-managers who lost their lives during the air crash. The wall destroyed by the crash was not rebuilt and it is still visible today.

The monuments in Turin: Palazzo Madama

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Palazzo Madama lies in the center of Piazza Castello (Castello's square).

This wonderful house-museum tells the two thousand-year story of Turin because it comprises three important buildings into just one: the towers of the Roman Porta Pretoria, the fourty-hundred castle of Ludovico d'Acaja and the spectacular front. The last one overlooks via Garibaldi and it has a monumental atrium and staircase. The front was added by Filippo Juvarra in 1721 when it lost its defence function and it became the elegant Palazzo delle "madame" reali (Palace of the "real gentlewoman"). At first it belonged to Cristina from France and then to Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoia-Nemours, who was Carlo Emanuele II's wife.

Although the Palace' roomm have been frescoed and decorated in 17th and 18th centuries, they got into a complicated repair project, considering that the Museo Civico di Arte Antica (Civic Museum of Ancient Art), which is located here since 1863, will be open to people again. This museum has rich and heterogeneous collections: paintings, furniture, carvings, ceramics, old enamels, glassware, ivories, tapestries etc.

The monuments in Turin: Borgo e Castello Medievale

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Borgo e Castello medievale It was built in Parco Valentino during the International Exposition of 1884 and it is a thorough rebuilding of the gothic houses of Piedmont and Aosta Valley.

The architect D'Andrade, who directed the researches and the works, was driven by a didactic purpose, that is to show a characteristic Piedmont's suburb and a castle belonging to 15th century. He wanted to document the historical and artistical appearance giving a special attention even to the objects of daily usage.

The monuments in Turin: church Gran madre di Dio

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La Gran Madre di Dio (Great Mother of God) is a neoclassical cathedral constructed between 1827 and 1831 along the banks of the river Po. The building was built by the town council of Turin to celebrate the return of Vittorio Emanuele I after the Wien (Vienna) congress. In front of it there is the large Vittorio Veneto Square, which is linked to the cathedral through Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I.

According to the legend, in the underground of this church, there is the Holy Grail.

The architect Ferdinando Monsignore, for the accomplishment of this building, got his inspiration from the Pantheon, which in fact looks like the Gran Madre di Dio.

By the sides of the staircase that leads to the entrance, there are two statues. They symbolize Faith and Religion and they have been made by Carlo Chelli.

This church is loved very much by esoterics, for the legends that are going around about it, and also by tourists that appreciate its sobriety and its closeness to the river. Moreover it is the ossuary-mausoleum of the First World War.

The monuments in Turin: parlament cisalpino

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Palazzo Carignano is a Palace where Carlo Alberto and Vittorio Emanuele were born and which is the original creation of the architect Guarino Guarini for Emanuele Filiberto il Muto (the Dumb), from the Savoia-Carignano's branch.

Between 1679 and 1685 he designed its impressive baroque façade, the imposing atrium and a beautiful garden that reached Via Bogino (now Piazza Carlo Alberto).

Here the façade of Bollati and Ferri was planned. It is a famous example of baroque style due to its sinuous façade and its covered with plain preciously worked bricks.

In 1848 the elliptical central hall, which was already assigned to parties, was trasformed into the chamber of the first Subalpine Parliament. Three-coloured cockades mark the seats of Vincenzo Gioberti, Massimo D'Azeglio, Cavour and Cesare Balbo. The main floor's rooms of Palazzo Guariniano give hospitality to the National Museum of the Italian Risorgimento. Documents, relics, paintings, books and flags about the Italian history until the Second World War are exposed here.

The monuments in Turin: Castello del Valentino

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Castello del Valentino is a charming house of 17th century and is located in the biggest park of the city and faces the river Po. It has the characteristics of the French style sloping roofs , to pay homage to the royal gentlewoman Cristina of France who was the wife of Vittorio Amedeo I. She had a special liking for this castle and for that reason, when she became Duchess of Savoia, she converted it into her royal palace. Here she organized joustings, tournaments, feasts and waterbattles.

The recent repair works of the main floor rooms gave the frescoes and the precious stuccoes, by the Lugano's artists, back their original splendour. After many changes, the Castle is today the site of the College of Architecture of Turin's Polytechnic.

The monuments in Turin: Parco di Villa della Regina

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At the beginning of the seventeenth century, on the Turin hills rose the country-residences of the city aristocracy called "vigna". Here, the nobility spent its time doing the "otium" of latin memory or doing agricultural activities of pastoral memory. The Cardinal Maurizio di Savoia was the protagonist of the sabaudian political events at the time of the regent duchess Cristina of France. He built a "vigna" for him under the model of the roman villas. Here he could spend his time making philosophical researches, learned treatises and mathematical researches with the academicians Solinghi.

So he chose this beautiful place, perfectly aligned to the ancient baroque gate that faced the Po. Still today, the Villa della Regina strikes for the view of the city it offers, and for its perfect geometry, which put it into the town baroque perspectives, just a little above the Gran Madre's church and perfectly aligned to Piazza Vittorio Veneto, in front of the Po.

Some of the most prestigious architects of Turin, from Amedeo di Castellamonte to Filippo Juvarra, worked toghether to build this building planned by Ascanio Vitozzi. In the course of centuries, this building underwent many readaptations according to the regent family's necessities, above all to that of the duchesses and the queens who selected it as their favourite residence. Villa della Regina comes from the predilection of the queens of that line, in particular from the Royal Madams and the queen Maria Antonia Borbone, Vittorio Amedeo III's wife.

Villa della Regina, which has been abandoned for a long time, has been included from Unesco in the list of the goods which are a world human heritage. Since 1994 it is under a repair work that will give it back its original splendour. Just these repair works permitted to discover an optical game thought up by Filippo Juvarra and made by the architect Pietro Baroni. The whole Belvedere's structure is leaning a little forward, and the lateral towers are a little divergents. Through this trick, which doesn't endanger the stability of the building, the architects achieved their aim. This was to make appear Belvedere's axis to be longer than its real 75 metres to the eyes of visitors.

The monuments in Turin: Palazzo reale

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Palazzo Reale di Torino It was the royal madam Cristine of France, Vittorio Amedeo I duke's wife, who began in 1646 the building of the "Palazzo Reale di Torino" (Royal Palace of Turin), which became then the sumptuous official residence of the dukes and later, for more than two centuries, of the sabaudian kings. In the rooms dedicated to festive occasions and in the private apartments, the frescoed and preciously carved ceilings, the paintings, the picturesque tapestries and the porcelains document the change of taste from 1600 to 1800, according to the predilection of the court's architects, from Juvarra and Alfieri to Palagi. The fountain and the garden's flower-beds are infact decorated with sixteenth-century statues designed by Le Notre, the famous French architect of Versaille's gardens.

The monuments in Turin: Castello di Moncalieri

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Castello di Moncalieri (Castle of Moncalieri) The unique and squared mass of this castle dominates the ancient village. It is a building of the fifteenth century but it has been completely rebuilt since 1619 thanks to the following interventions of Carlo and Amedeo of Castellamonte, Filippo Juvarra and Benedetto Alfieri.

Today the Castle of Moncalieri is the seat of the Carabinieri station. However, it is still possible to admire the decorated parlours and the elegant toilet rooms in the royal apartments of queen Maria Adelaide, Vittorio Emanuele II's wife, and princess Maria Letizia, Maria Adelaide's niece. There is still the hall where in 1849 the Proclama di Moncalieri (Proclamation of Moncalieri) was signed.

The monuments in Turin: Residenza di caccia Stupinigi

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Palazzina di caccia di Stupinigi The long drive, lined with farm-houses and stables, disposes visitors to the sight of the "Palazzina", whose venatical function is suggested by the presence of the deer on the top of the roof. This famous residence was planned in 1729 by Filippo Juvarra for Vittorio Amedeo II and it is surrounded by a beautiful park. It has an original four-wings plant, placed on the plan of a Saint Andrea cross, which branch off from the elliptical central hall. In the Museum of "Arte e Ammobiliamento" (Art and Furniture), which is set up in the frescoed rooms, there are furniture (most of them are real masterpieces of Piedmont's cabinet-making), both belonging to the Palazzina and coming from other houses, such as Moncalieri or Venaria Reale.

The monuments in Turin: Reggia di Venaria Reale

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Reggia di Venaria Reale This Royal Palace of the seventeenth century, dedicated to the hunting goddess Diana, was planned in 1658 by Amedeo di Castellamonte for the duke Carlo Emanuele II. This building toghether with the Gallery of Diana, the Citroniera, the Scuderie and the Chapel of Sant Uberto, which are famous creations of Juvarra, form the so-called "Versaille" of Turin.

This Royal Palace is a building of huge proportions (480.000 sq m) that lives in symbiosis with the suburb and the surrounding park. This Dwelling is a big repair builder's yard made by the Minister for Cultural Assets and Activities of the region Piedmont with the funds of the European Union. A structural recovery of the building is now taking place. It will house a Museum regarding the life and culture of the court and there will also be a national repair centre and an exhibitory area about history and culture of Europe and the Mediterranean area.

The monuments in Turin: Dome of San Giovanni

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Duomo di San Giovanni and Cappella della Sacra Sindone The Dome of San Giovanni stands close to Piazza Castello and next to Porte Palatine. It is a rare example in Turin of a renaissance work. It has been built between 1491 and 1498, just like the cardinal Domenico della Rovere desired, and it is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.

The dome has a chapel with a baroque cupola, which is the so-called Cappella della Sacra Sindone (Chapel of the Holy Shroud) where there is the silver shrine containing the presumed sudarium of Christ.

The Shroud is a 4,36 metres long and 1,11 metres wide sheet, which has a human imprint impressed on it. According to the tradition, the imprint has been made by Jesus Christ and that sheet is the one that covered his body after his death.

The Shroud is probably the most examined object in the world from every branch of knowledge (history, chemistry, numismatics, pollen analysis, archeology, informatics etc.) and it is preserved in Turin's Dome since 1578.

However, the radiocarbon dating of the sheet performed in 1988 in three different internationally renowed laboratories, ascertained that it actually dates back to the 14th century. This demonstrates that it is a fake and it can't be authentic.

The Story of the Shroud of Turin appears for the first time in Europe in the Middle Age; moreover, it is in sync to the results of the radiocarbon dating made in 1988.

One of the first documents about it dates back to 1389. We are dealing with a memorial of the bishop Pierre d'Arcis, who wrote to pope Clemente 7th about the research made by his precursor Henri de Poitier.

The bishop of Poitier didn't believe in the authenticity of the Holy Shrine, so he denounced the pretencion of the dean of that time, which was to pass off the sheet as the real Christ's Sudarium just for the sake of gain. The bishop also proved that, as the consequence of a research, it had been found the forger who admitted that the sheet actually "was a work made by human's hands, and not miraculously made or given".

Pierre d'Arcis had to intervene twice when he knew that the new dean had been exposing again the sheet "artificially painted" with the image of a man (we have to consider that at the time, the word "painting" included many reproductions techniques: paintings, miniatures, mosaics and embroderies). Afterwards, in 1390 pope Clemente VII delivered a bull wherein he ordered to be told out loud, everytime that the shrine would have been exposed, that "the image printed on it is not the real sudarium of our Lord Jesus Christ, but a painting or a table made as the representation or the imitation of the real one" with the aim to stop every cheat.

The recent history confirmed the condemnations of the skeptical bishop and pope Clemente, as the forensic tests, made by the commission of cardinal Pellegrino in 1973 on the presumed blood, gave negative results, while the micro-analyst Pierre d'Arcis proved the doubtless presence of traces of ochre, vermilion and alizarin on the sheet: it really seems to be just red tempera.

The latter instance, added the one about the nature of the image, a slight burning of the exterior fibres of linen, gives the idea of a probable mechanism to "create" a shroud with that same characteristics.

An hypothetical explanation given by Joe Nickell, expert in this field, is the following: maybe these images are the consequence of the dry-stone rubbing of paint on a sheet that has been put on a low relief, whose features would reproduce a dead body. The blood stains would have subsequently added, probably with real blood.

With the passing of time, the paint would have removed from the sheet, but leaving before then some slight residual traces on the cellulose of the sheet. All of these findings prove the falsity of the relic.

The presence of paint suggests that the image is the fruit of the work of an artist. This is also supported by the declarations of Pierre d'Arcis and by the lack of historical precedents. In addition, the radiocarbon dating is coherent to the first historical appearance of the sheet.

The cardinal Ballestrero himself, who controlled the radiocarbon dating's tests in 1988, showed his acceptance and his conformation to the test's results. He said " I think there's no point in calling these results into question. And there's no point in selling-back the peels to the scientists whenever their response isn't in accord to the reasons of the heart" Nevertheless, besides the work of "skeptical" (or let's rather say "impartial"?) scientists, there is the intensive activity of a set of Shroud experts who, against evidence, want to prove the authenticity of the sheet. However, their findings only demonstrate their exceptional need to believe in the rights of the heart rather than in laboratory evidences. Just like the case of the traces of little coin of the roman period. The Shroud experts Baima Bollone and Nello Balossino, toghether with others, affirm that they see these traces on the sheet. According to them, this would corroborate the thesis that the sheet dates back to the first century. There's no point saying that they think carbon-14's tests are wrong. Beyond the fact that in 1300 a forger could have put Roman coin's traces on the sheet to make it more believable, the most important thing to consider is that these traces are the fruit of the interpretation of who definitely wants to see their existence. Luigi Gonella, who is a physicist of the polytechnic of Turin and a scientific adviser of cardinal Ballestrero, broke off all the polemics:"The Shroud is an image whose smallest detail, except for the blood stains, measures about half a centimetre.

Like the lips. Therefore it really, really seems to be very inconsistent that there would be details so small like the ones of the letters on the coins. Though you do know it, if you keep overstating, you'll see even things that actually don't exist.

Only them, the so-called "sindonologi" (specialists of the Shroud), are lashing out against carbon-14. In the scientific, physical and chemical field nobody has any doubt about it. Me neither.

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