Royal Library

It’s one of the most important cultural institutions in the city: the Royal Library preserves over 200,000 volumes, 4,500 manuscripts and over 3,000 drawings by great masters including Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.
It was founded starting in 1831 at the behest of Carlo Alberto, after the Second World War. With the transfer of the assets of the House of Savoy to the State, the Royal Library became a public meeting place for scholars, bibliophiles and tourists.
Not everyone knows that one of the most iconic works of Renaissance art, the famous portrait of an old man, considered to be Leonardo da Vinci’s self-portrait, is preserved in Turin, at the Royal Library. With its 200,000 volumes, 4,500 manuscripts, 3,055 drawings, 187 incunabula, 5,019 16th-century books and 1,500 scrolls, the Royal Library is one of Turin’s most important cultural institutions, a place where visitors meet scholars among the shelves of an impressive gallery created in celebration of knowledge.
The Royal Library was founded by King Carlo Alberto of Savoy, who had already decided in 1831 to develop the court library, sending his assistants to every corner of Europe with the aim of acquiring ancient and modern volumes, illuminated manuscripts and documents relating to various fields of knowledge. The culmination of the far-sighted acquisition campaign was the conclusion, between late 1839 and early 1840, of negotiations with Giovanni Volpato to obtain the precious collection of over 1500 drawings by great Italian and foreign masters, including Michelangelo, Perugino, Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci. The growth of the collection made it necessary to install the volumes in a space intended specifically for this purpose. And so it was that the present location was inaugurated in 1842, on the ground floor of the east wing of the Royal Palace, below the Beaumont Gallery. The design was assigned to Pelagio Palagi and the bookcases were made by the court cabinet-makers under the expert guidance of Gabriele Capello, aka Moncalvo, while the grisaille-painted ceiling is attributable to the brushwork of Angelo Moja and Marcantonio Trefogli.
A favourite destination of scholars and visitors since its foundation, the Library – which has become part of the Royal Museums of Turin complex – still retains its dual function as a place dedicated to study and a site of cultural interest. Between 1998 and 2004, it was extended with two new exhibition rooms, where thematic exhibitions are organised regularly to highlight its valuable heritage.
Piazzetta Reale, 1 – Torino
+39 011 5211106