Royal Palace of Turin
|Residences of the Royal House of Savoy|
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
|Criteria||i, ii, iv, v|
|UNESCO region||Europe and North America|
|Inscription||1997 (21st Session)|
The Royal Palace of Turin (Italian: Palazzo Reale di Torino) is a historic palace of the House of Savoy in the city of Turin in northern Italy. It was originally built in the 16th century. The palace was later modernized by Christine Marie of France (1606–63) in the 17th century, with subsequent additions designed by the Baroque architect Filippo Juvarra. The palace also includes the Palazzo Chiablese and the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, which was built to house the famous Shroud of Turin. In 1946, the building became property of the state and was turned into a museum. It was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1997, along with 13 other residences of the House of Savoy.
The Bishop's palace was built in the center of the new capital of Savoy, Turin, during the reign of Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy (1528–1580). It is on the site of this original palace that the current Royal Palace of Turin now stands.
The construction of the Royal Palace was ordered by the Regent Maria Cristina, who wanted for the Court a new worthy and sumptuous residence. It was 1645, and the Regent’s son was about to come back from the Civil War. The chosen place was the site where the Bishops’ palace once stood, which offered an open and sunny position, and the advantage of being connected with the other buildings which had been seat of the Court until that moment.
The Duke was able to monitor the two entrances of the city from the Bishop's palace, namely the Palatine and Pretoria gates. The Bishop's palace in Turin was captured by the French in 1536 and served as a residence of the French Viceroys of Savoy, who were appointed by Francis I of France. Opposite the Bishop's palace was the Palazzo Vecchio or the Palazzo di San Giovanni. These two buildings were later replaced by the grander Ducal Palace.
The old Bishop's Palace became the seat of power and it was greatly expanded by Emmanuel Philibert to house his ever growing collection of art, animals, marbles and furniture. Emmanuel Philibert died in Turin in August 1580 and the Savoyard throne was handed down to his son, Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy (1562–1630). In celebration of the joint marriages of his daughters Princess Margaret and Princess Isabella in 1608, Charles Emmanuel I commissioned the construction of a ring of porches which was topped off by an open gallery. His son, the future Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy (1587–1637), made a very prestigious marriage when he married the French Princess Christine Marie of France. Their marriage occurred in Paris at the Louvre in 1619.
Victor Amadeus I succeeded to the Duchy of Savoy in 1630. He had spent his youth in Madrid at the court of his grandfather Philip II of Spain. His wife set the tone for Victor Amadeus I's reign - Christine Marie had the court moved from the ducal palace in Turin to the Castello del Valentino, which, in that time, was on the outskirts of the small capital. Many of Victor Amadeus I and Christine Marie's children were born at Valentino, including Francis Hyacinth, Duke of Savoy and his successor Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy. Christine Marie was regent of Savoy after the death of her husband in 1637; she was the regent of her two sons who succeeded as Duke of Savoy.
Francis Hyacinth of Savoy (1632–1638) died at age 6 and was succeeded by his brother Charles Emmanuel II (1634–1675). After the Savoyard regency, the Dowager Duchess moved into the Palazzo Madama, Turin, where she died in 1663. Charles Emmanuel II married twice; his first wife was his first cousin Françoise Madeleine d'Orléans, whom he married in March 1663 just before Christine Marie's death. Françoise Madeleine died without issue, but left a suite of rooms in the palace that had been decorated especially for her before her death in 1664. The new duchess was another Marie Jeanne of Savoy. She mothered the next Duke Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy, and was also regent of Savoy from 1675 to 1684. Marie Jeanne of Savoy later moved into the Palazzo Madama, where she died in 1724.
During reign of Victor Amadeus II, the Daniel gallery was created and named after Daniel Seiter, who painted the lavish murals seen in the gallery. Victor Amadeus II also had a collection of summer apartments built to look onto the court and a winter apartment overlooking the gardens. His wife was the niece of Louis XIV, born Anne Marie d'Orléans. Louis XV's mother and aunt were born in the palace in 1685 and 1688 respectively.
The Chapel of the Holy Shroud, the current resting place of the Shroud of Turin, was added to the structure in 1668-1694.
The Dukes of Savoy became the Kings of Sicily in 1713, but that was swapped with the Kingdom of Sardinia, which they ruled from 1720 after the Treaty of The Hague. Anne Marie d'Orléans died at the Palace in 1728.
Victor Amadeus III married Maria Antonietta of Spain, but they preferred to use the Palazzina di caccia di Stupinigi in the country. The Neoclassical style was introduced to the palace in the reign of Charles Emmanuel III. The palace was overshadowed by the Stupinigi building later on, when Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia married Maria Adelaide of Austria. The palace once again saw some life with the redecoration of some rooms.
In 1946, the palace was claimed by the Italian Republic and turned into a "Museum of the Life and Works of the House of Savoy". Its rooms are decorated with rich tapestries and a collection of Chinese and Japanese vases. The Royal Armory houses an extensive array of arms, including examples from the 16th and 17th centuries.
The palace houses the Scala delle Forbici, a staircase by Filippo Juvarra. The Chapel of the Holy Shroud, with its spiral dome, was built in the west wing of the palace, joining the apse of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, to house the famous Shroud of Turin, which belonged to the family from 1453 until 1946. The royal gates of the palace have a golden Medusa symbol embossed onto them to fend off intruders.
References and notes
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