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Turin was founded somewhere around 200 BC by Celtic tribes, this has puzzled me because Rome was founded in 753 BC almost 500 years earlier so why would the Roman empire allow someone not from the empire to found a town in their empire. Rome would eventually take Turin over and used it as a military outpost for many centuries.
Today however Turin is a thriving City with a population of about 900,000 however if you include the entire metropolitan area they would end up with a total population of about 1.5 million people. Turin also happens to be the capitol city of the Piedmont region of Italy.
For many people when they hear Turin Italy the first thing they think of is the famous shroud of Turin which to Christians is believed to be the burial cloth that Jesus Christ was buried in. However Turin is so much more than just a town where a religious artifact is kept, like many other cities in Italy it is filled with culture and amazing architecture that can keep you busy for weeks. With the crossing of every street you can see different kinds of buildings some of which looking at from the outside one would never know it housed a wonderful museum unless they saw the sign.
One of the great things about Turin is, so many of the towns attractions are in the main part of the downtown area and are within about 10 block radius of each other. If you are hungry checking google maps reveals at least 20 restaurants in the main downtown area as well.
While I am going to give you a list of the most often visited attractions I am not listing them in any kind of order as to which is more popular in terms of number of people visiting them each day.
Saint John's Cathedral
Since I already mentioned the shroud of Turin I might as well start with talking about the place that houses it which is Saint John's Cathedral. The Cathedral is located on via xx Settembre which is next door to the Royal Palace of Turin. The Cathedral was built by Guarino Guarini and like so many Churches and Cathedrals of the time took many years to complete as construction began in 1668 and was completed in 1697.
Like so many Churches in Italy one would never know how beautiful the interior of the church is based on how plane the exterior is. The church is wonderfully ornate with frescos covering most of the walls as well as many of the alters filled with carvings on just about every surface. One particular alter looks to be painted or clad in gold. Also in the church one will find quite a few full sized statutes.
The Egyptian Museum in Turin
Considered by many to be one of the best Egyptian museums in the world, not because of the number of actual artifacts inside its buildings but for the quality of their entire collection which is said to be surpassed only the museum in Cairo.
Established in 1824 the museum received many of its pieces from the University of Turin. The museum also is responsible for many of its own archeological digs in the early 1900s that netted them many of its artifacts. Some of the collection contains many normal every day usage items as well as large statutes. The museum is located on Via Accademia delle Scienze and is within easy walking distance from many other Turin attractions.
Royal Palace of Turin
Built in the 16th century the palace is an excellent example of the architecture of the time with its beautifully ornate and symmetrical exterior. Once known as the house of Savoy, named this because of the ruling Savoy family had it built and lived there when they were in power. In 1946 the palace became the Republic of Italy's property and turned into a wonderful museum.
Inside the museum you will find a large collection of vases from Japan and China. Along with everything that is displayed in cases and on shelves, many of the walls are adorned with many beautiful tapestries. Many of the things mentions were collected by the family over the years they lived there.
In another part of the palace is the Armory museum which like the rest of the museum has quite a large number different types of weaponry from the 16th and 17 centuries as well as from other areas.
This square is one of the main gathering places in the city and is only 2 blocks from the Egyptian museums, and is located next to the largest city park in Turin making it a great place to visit followed by a nice rest or lunch under the trees. The layout of the square is attributed to Ascanio Vitozzi and construction was started in the late 1580s. Like many squares in Italian towns it took many years to complete with shops, arcades as well as restaurants being built and turned into other things over the centuries. At one end of the square is Madama castle which is at the edge of the square and is the largest single building in the square.
If I am already visiting the Plazza Castello I might as well go to the Civic Museum of Truin as it is located in the Madama castle at one end of the plazza. With its interesting architecture on the exterior I can see how easy it was to be turned into a museum. The museum houses a wonderful collection of renaissance paintings and also includes medieval paintings and sculptures. The museum was founded in the 1860 but everything was moved to another location then later was brought back in 1934 to Madama castle where the museum is today.
As a side note the first five attractions listed above are all fairly condensed as they are all within four blocks of each other which would make this an easy sightseeing day.
National Museum of Cinema
The National Museum of Cinema is a popular place to go and resides inside a building which everyone refers as the Mole. I found this name rather odd and wanted to find out why it is called the Mole. I ended up finding an answer on Wikipedia and I quote, "named after its architect, Alessandro Antonelli. A mole in Italian is a building of monumental proportions". For some reason I just don't understand the correlation between the architects name and the name the Mole.
Never the less it is a very interesting building to have as a museum. Its film collection includes films from many eras encompassing classic movies, animated movies and documentaries. The museum also shows the evolution of film including projector development over the decades. The museum also has quite a few models of film sets, film props and film posters. While there one might as well go to the viewing platform on the outside of the building where you can get a great view of Turin. This museum has enough to look at that I could easily spend a half a day there.
The Grand Madre is a church with a much different look then one would expect as it looks very much like the Pantheon in Rome with his huge columns in front as well as its domed style roof. The church is located on one end of the plazza Vittorio Veneto which is next to the Po river. A great place to visit any time of day but is spectacular at night with all the lighting, someone taking pictures of the church from the other side of the river can get some stunning nighttime pictures that would be the pride of your travel photos.
The Gam Museum, somehow GAM comes from the museums real name of the Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. I didn't see the letters lining up in a way to spell GAM until I saw it spelled out in Italian which is, Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea then it made sense. This is a wonderful Museum of modern art and Contemporary art, is one first modern art museums in Italy. On hand is over 45,000 pieces of art taking into account many different genres which are, sculptures, photos, engravings and paintings. A large number of the museums contents are from artists local to the Piedmont region as well as famous artists like Bella and Ernst.
This is only a small list of the many things to see in Truin and notably the first 6 listed are all with about 4 blocks of each other. Also as mentioned at the beginning of this article there are about 20 restaurants in the main downtown area however I would recommend reading over the Restaurant page of this site as it has good insight into finding and choosing a place to eat.
With all Truin has to offer there is still more that can be done, if someone is interested in a day trip, Milan is only an hour and a half by train and about two hours by car. Genoa would also be a nice place to go for a day trip as it is two and a half hours by car and almost four by train. If I am interested in spending a day by the Mediterranean sea the closest Italian Riviera town of Savona is also a short two and a half hour drive.
Take your time exploring my site and enjoy planning your trip to Italy and later on your actual Trip.
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