Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Turin Italy

Castle Square is the main plaza in Turin and is the location of many municipal structures. This was the location of a Roman Gate around 100 BC and has been a site of monumental architecture ever since. Today the square has the Palazzo Madama e Casaforte degli Acaja which was the palace to two queens (earning the name Palazzo Madama). It also has the remnants of a castle which (depending on the website) suggests an origin in the AD 1200s and was at least altered in AD 1500s if not rebuilt at that time. The square was designed by Ascanio Vitozzi in AD 1564 and also has the Royal Palace (which houses the Shroud of Turin in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud) and the Royal Library (which houses Leonardo da Vinci's operas). In the picture above the Palazzo Madama is in the center of the photo and the Royal Palace is in the distance on the left.

It was interesting that the City of Turin had erected a monument to General Emanuele Filiberto Duca D'Aosta in the Pizza Castello that commemorates his deeds in World War I directly in front of the castle so now this more modern monument dominates the front of the castle. This layering of historical structures and monuments is present throughout Europe with its long history. It seems that their juxtaposition results in a different meaning and feel than a monument standing on its own. We also found this in Edinburgh (see later post) with a 1900s war monument dominating the central court of Edinburgh Castle.

The Mole Antonelliana was designed by architect Alessandro Antonelli and was completed in 1889.  It was designed to be a mosque but houses the Museo Nazionale del Cinema today. Apparently a Mole is a building of monumental proportions and this is actually the tallest museum in the world. This structure dominated the south side of Turin’s skyline and really drew your attention as you walk through that part of the city.

The Monumento Nazionale al Carabiniere (National Monument to the policeman) was designed by Edoardo Rubino to commemorate the sacrifices of policemen during World War I and is standing in the garden of the Royal Palace of Turin. The monument was commemorated in 1933 in the presence of the King. During World War II, this monument was severely damaged, but was repaired and reopened in 1948.

The Po River runs through Turin and has contributed to its economic and strategic importance through history. Across the Vittorio Emanuele I bridge is the church of Gran Madre di Dio which was proposed in AD 1814.  The architect was Ferdinando Bonsignore who designed the church in a Neoclassic-style and it was completed in 1831. On top of the hill in the distance is the late-Renaissance style church called Santa Maria di Monte dei Cappuccini which was built for the Capuchin Order of the Catholic Church which is an offshoot of the Franciscan Monks. The Capuchin Order arose in AD 1520 and Friar Matteo obtained the approval of Pope Clement VII in 1528 to live as a hermit and to preach to the poor. Ascanio Vitozzi (who designed Castle Plazza) designed the church and started its construction in AD 1583, but it was not completed until AD 1656 by the engineer Giacomo Soldati.

Turin has many squares (or Piazzas) which are used for gatherings and ceremonies. Piazza San Carlo has the nickname “living room of Turin” and is thought to be one of the main gathering places in Turin. It has long been a center for political life in the city and the surrounding area with many meetings occurring in the cafes that line the sides of the square with seating that extends into the square. The twin Baroque churches at the far end of the square are the church of San Carlo which was built in AD 1619 and the church of Santa Christina which was built in AD 1639. The monument of the horse rider in the middle of the square is to Emanuele Filiberto who brought the Holy Shroud to Turin in AD 1578. This monument was sculpted by Carlo Marocchetti in AD 1838 and is one of the symbols of the city of Turin.

I really enjoyed my time in Turin. Besides my visit to the Dendrochronology Laboratory at the University (see a later post), I got to take a tour of the Western Italian Alps with Renzo Motta (see a later post) and spent a great evening in the city with him and his students. I got to experience Grom Gelato which Renzo said was the best in Italy (and I can agree based on my limited experience).


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