A unique building with a 2000-year history

“The house of centuries is Palazzo Madama. No other building brings together so much time, history, and poetry”
Guido Gozzano

In the 1st century, it was the Porta Decumana of Augusta Taurinorum; in the 13th century, it was a medieval castle; in the 18th century, it was a masterpiece of the European Baroque; in the 19th century, it was an astronomical observatory and then the Senate of the Kingdom, where the unity of Italy was declared, with Rome as its
capital declared the unification of Italy and established Rome as its capital. The residence of the Royal Ladies, Christine of France and Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoy-Nemours, is the memory, identity, and future of Turin, which never settles, on the contrary it’s constantly innovating. Palazzo Madama houses 75,000 works of art that tell the story of a city and a territory with unique characteristics, a key hub in the development of european civilisation.

“The house of centuries is Palazzo Madama. No building contains such a sum of time, of history, of poetry […] it is like a stone synthesis of Turin’s entire past, from its origins, from Roman times, to the days of our Risorgimento”. The words of Guido Gozzano (from La casa dei secoli – The house of centuries – published in 1914) echo the two thousand years of history of a building that is unique in the world: decuman gate of Augusta Taurinorum in the 1st century; medieval castle in the 13th century; European Baroque masterpiece in the 18th century; astronomical observatory in the 19th century and then the place where “[… ] from MDCCCXLVIII to MDCCCLXVI the Senate, first of the Subalpine kingdom and then of the Italian kingdom, reasserted and implemented the Statuto Albertino, intrepidly upheld the rights of the homeland, provoked three wars against the foreign oppressor, supported the boldness of Crimea, desired, prepared for and sanctioned national unification, established the Kingdom of Italy, proclaimed Rome as its capital” as stated in the large scroll, engraved in gold letters on a black background, in the hall on the piano nobile of Palazzo Madama, which embodies female power more than any other Savoy residence. It owes its name to the two “Madame Reali” who chose it as their official residence in the 17th century, marking the transition from castle to residence. Christine of France, the first Madama Reale, moved there in 1638, during her regency on behalf of her son Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy, who was a child at the time. To adapt the building to court life, Christine commissioned the architect Amedeo di Castellamonte to cover the old medieval courtyard in order to create a state room and a large hall for parties and receptions on the piano nobile.
The second Madama Reale also lived in the palace after the death of her husband (1675), Duke Carlo Emanuele II. In compliance with the desires of the regent, the rooms were richly decorated with precious gilded stuccoes, moulded by Pietro Somasso, and spectacular frescoes celebrating the virtues, created by Domenico Guidobono. The most surprising transformation was entrusted to architect Filippo Juvarra, who designed the façade and the magnificent two-flight staircase at the entrance between 1718 and 1721.
With the relocation of the capital to Florence, in 1884 work began on the study and restoration of Palazzo Madama, coordinated by the architect Alfredo d’Andrade. This was accompanied by a campaign of excavations and surveys to reconstruct its long and complex history. Instrumental to the launching of a new phase: since 1934, Palazzo Madama has housed the collections of the Museo Civico d’Arte Antica in an itinerary now arranged on four floors, taking a journey through time and history: the Medieval Lapidary on the moat floor, Gothic and Renaissance Art on the ground floor, Baroque Arts on the first floor and the exceptional collection of Decorative Arts on the second floor. The Medieval Garden, an oasis of peace and tranquillity in the centre of Turin, was inaugurated in 2011 at the foot of the two towers.

Piazza Castello – Torino
+39 011 5211788



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