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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > T > Turin


(Turino; Taurinensis)

The City of Turin is the chief town of a civil province in Piedmont and was formerly the capital of the Duchy of Savoy and of the Kingdom of Sardinia. It is situated on the left bank of the Po and on right of the Dora Riparia, which flows into the Po not far off. The surrounding flat country is fertile in grain, pasturage, hemp, and herbs available for use in the industries, while on the hills a delicious fungus, a species of truffle is found. The district is also rich in minerals (a species of gneiss and granite), and there are five mineral springs. The population is 270,000.

Besides the numerous elementary and intermediate schools, public and private, there are a university (see below), a musical lyceum, commercial and industrial schools. The Accademia Albertina (1652), for the fine arts, possesses the precious Mossi Gallery (Raphael, Dolci, Caravaggio, Rubens, Van Dyck, Giotto, Andrea del Sarto, Correggio, Luca Giordano, Guercino, and others, with cartoons of Leonardo da Vinci and others). There is a royal academy of the sciences (1757) and a royal commission on studies in Italian history. The documents of the general archives go back as far as the year 934. Other institutions of sciences and arts are the military academy, the Scuola di Guerra, the practical school for the artillery and engineers, and eight public libraries, among them the National (1714). The last-named contains the precious Bobbio manuscripts and many Greek and Egyptian papyri; in 1904 it was ravaged by a fire in which valuable manuscripts perished, among them some which had not yet been thoroughly studied. The Museum of Antiquities is of great importance, containing a number of marbles collected throughout Piedmont besides one of the most complete Egyptian collections in existence, that made by Bernardino Drovetti, a French consul in Egypt. Worthy of note also are the Royal Gallery (Pinacoteca) and the zoölogical, mineralogical, geological, anatomical, and the rich numismatical museum (the king's medallion). Benevolent institutions are the Opera Pia di S. Paolo, which includes the Pious Institute (ufficio pio) of Alms for the poor and dowries for young girls, and the Monte di Pietà. The hospitals are those of S. Giovanni (fourteenth century), of the Order of Sts. Mauriceand Lazarus, the Opera Pia di S. Luigi (1792), the Ophthalmic Hospital, the Cottolengo (Piccola Casa della Divina Providenza, founded in 1827 for every kind of human misery, in which about 7000 sick, aged, and infirm persons have found shelter), the Royal General Charity Hospice, the asylum of the Infanzia Abbandonata, the Reale Albergo di Virtù (1580). The Opera Pia Barolo has under its direction various charitable and educational institutions. For the Rifugio and Oratory of St. Francis de Sales, see Bosco.


The cathedral, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, stands on the site of three ancient churches, and was built (1492-98) by Meo del Caprino, with an octagonal dome. Attached to the cathedral is the chapel of the Santissimo Sudario, built by Guarini (1694), where is preserved in a casket a cloth believed to be the shroud in which the Body of Christ was wrapped when it was taken down from the Cross, The Church of Corpus Domini records a miracle which took place during the sack of the city in 1453, when a soldier was carrying off an ostensorium containing the Blessed Sacrament: the ostensorium fell to the ground, while the Host remained suspended in air. The present splendid church, erected in 1610 to replace the original chapel which stood on the spot, is the work of Ascanio Vittozzi. The Consolata, a sanctuary much frequented by pilgrims, stands on the site of the tenth-century monastery of S. Andrea, and is the work of Guarini. It was sumptuously restored in 1903. Outside the city, are: S. Maria Ausiliatrice, erected by Don Bosco; the Gran Madre di Dio, erected in 1818 on occasion of the return of King Victor Emanuel I; S. Maria del Monte (1583) on the Monte dei Cappucini; the Basilica of Superga, with a dome 244 feet high, the work of Juvara, built by Amedeo II ex voto for the deliverance of Turin (1706), and which has served since 1772 as a royal mausoleum.

Profane edifices

The Royal Palace (1646-58) contains various splendidly decorated halls and an extremely rich collection of arms of all periods and all peoples, as well as the king's library. Under the palace the remains of a Roman theatre were discovered. The Palazzo Madama stands on the site of the old decuman gate, which became a castle in the Middle Ages and was repeatedly enlarged until, in 1718, it was finally prepared by Juvara for Madama Reale, as she was called, the widow of Charles Emanuel II. It is now occupied by the state archives and the observatory. The Palazzo Carignano (1680), a work of Guarini, is the residence of the younger branch of Savovy-Carignano, now the reigning house. This palace was occupied by the Parliament from 1848 to 1864, and now shelters the Museum of Natural History. The Academy of the Sciences, formerly a Jesuit College (1679), houses the Museum of Antiquities and the Pinaceoteca. The Palazzo di Città or City Hall (1669), the work of Lanfranchi, contains the Biblioteca Civica. There is also a Museo Civico di Belle Arti; and the Mole Antenelliana, 580 feet high, contains the Museo di Risorgimento (1863). The city itself is laid out on a very regular plan.


Before the Roman conquest of the Graian and Cottian Alps, Taurasia was already an important city of the Taurini, a