Turin, a city to discover
Encircled by the mountains Turin has hosted the Twentieth edition of the Winter Olympic Games in 2006 and in 2015 it has been the European Sport Capital. With its more than 875.000 inhabitants Turin is a hospitable hearty and active town where you can find interesting exhibitions, up-to-date museums, concerts, plenty of excellent shops along the arcades of its historical center, attractive cafes where vermouth or the traditional “bicerin” are affably served, restaurants for all likes. Turin is all this and much more, just there to discover. Chief town of Piedmont Region, lying between lowlands and hillside at the foot of the western Alps, Turin is one of the most beautiful Italian towns. It was founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC at the confluence of two rivers, the Po and the Dora. The Po - the longest river in Italy – springs on the Monviso at some 155 kilometers from Torino and stretching along the Padana plain flows into the Adriatic sea near Venice.
Probably more known as an industrial center rather than an art and culture town, Turin surprises its guests by the elegant scenography of its baroque squares, the uniform neatness and sobriety of its noble palaces facades, the long arcaded streets of its historical center. It was with the arrival of the Savoy dynasty in 1563 and during the three hundred years of the dynasty abidance that Torino – then a small fortified rural center - began to be gradually turned into a courtly, ducal and ultimately royal, town. Since 1997 the Savoy residences in Torino and Piedmont are in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites. This outstanding complex of buildings fully represents 17th and 18th century European monumental architecture created to demonstrate the power of the ruling monarchy. Designed and embellished by the leading architects and artists of the time, it radiates out into the surrounding countryside from the Royal Palace in the 'Command Area' of Turin to include many country residences and hunting lodges. Thus, Turin’s history and architecture are tightly interwoven with the dynastic political ascent to power of its rulers. The “Musei Reali” is a recently established new itinerary of great significance reuniting in a single complex the urban royal residences. The complex includes the royal palace, the royal gardens, the royal library, the royal armory, the Holy Shroud chapel, the antiquity museum and the royal art gallery. In 2018 almost 515.000 visitors had been in Turin for visit the “Musei Reali” pole.
Also associated to the Savoy dynasty is the Holy Shroud who owned it since 1453. The world famous relic was transferred from Chambery, France, to Turin some years after the relocation of the dynastic residence enacted by the duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy. Enshrined in the cathedral, now as in the past, this sacred relic of Christianity protects the town. While being still the most studied object in the world by academics of various scientific disciplines that try to explain the mysterious image of the sacred linen, the Holy Shroud is visited every year by thousands of pilgrims. In 2015 the Turin Episcopate organized an open display of the Shroud for which more than two millions pilgrims had come.
In the past two hundred years Turin was home to many records of which it can be proudly accounted for. Since 1861 to 1864 Turin was the first capital of the newly constituted Italian Kingdom, before the seat of the court and government being definitively transferred to Rome in 1871. In 1824 the first Egyptian antiquities museum, recognized among the most important in the world was opened in Turin by king Carlo Felice of Savoy in the prestigious premises where it can be still visited.
Overlooking the Po river, the 18th century Piazza Vittorio Veneto is accounted for being the largest arcaded square in Europe. Anyhow from its southern side near the Po river one can appreciate a superb panorama of the hillside, with the baroque Basilica of Superga on the left, the Santa Maria al monte dei Cappuccini church on the right and the neo-classical church Gran Madre di Dio, located just on the other side of the bridge built by Napoleon Bonaparte. Curiously this latter church was intentionally erected in the early 19th century to celebrate the return of the Savoy dynasty to town after the Napoleonic occupation. Less elegant though certainly very interesting is the square that since 1835 hosts the Porta Palazzo market, where on Saturdays thousands of people go shopping among its nearly a thousand ambulant stands. Located near one of the best preserved ancient roman gates in Europe, is the largest open air multiethnic market in the continent. Finally, Turin was indeed the first industrial center of the Italian Kingdom and it is still the seat of F.I.A.T., the national car factory that was established here in 1899, today part of FCA. The first car museum opened in 1932 in Turin and in its present historical and recently renovated premises and exhibition is a must not only for car enthusiasts. It is in Turin that the Italian cinema industry starts in the early XX eth century with the establishment of the first Italian film production and studios. This is just one of the reasons why a spectacular cinema museum is located in the Mole Antonelliana, itself a record when in 1889 it was celebrated as the highest brick building in Europe. Towering the city center the Mole has become the symbol of the town. Also it is from Turin that in 1924 the Italian Radio broadcasts for the first time ever. The same can be said for the first experiments of television broadcasting some years later, while more recently, it was the turn of the first UMTS phone call and the MP3 projected at the Turin Polytechnic University.
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