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  • TURIN'S HISTORY
    as portrayed by its commemorative plaques

    Part 2 of 5: Planning & Architectural Projects
    Continued from part 1

    Indeed Bishop Domenico Della Rovere was unique in calling in an architect from central Italy to build the Cathedral of San Giovanni in 1498, one of Turin's very few examples of Renaissance architecture.

    The Duke did not confine his attention to the city itself. Outside its walls he ordered (at the end of the 16th century) the creation of the Royal Park of Viboccone, north east of Turin, a project that involved the construction of buildings and ambitious landscaping. It seems likely, by the way, that the Park was a source of inspiration for the "Gerusalemme liberata" of Torquato Tasso who spent 1578-79 in Turin.

    Emanuele Filiberto's town planning and architectural projects only began to be implemented when he was succeeded by Carlo Emanuele I (1580-1630) who appointed the arch. Carlo Castellamonte to create the first, southward extension of the city beyond its ancient walls.

    We have that early expansion plan to thank, in fact, for Turin's orderly grid layout of straight streets and austerely linear architecture. One of the most elegant examples of this architectural style is Piazza San Carlo, which was at the heart of Castellamonte's design.

    The old city clustered around Piazza Castello began to assume its present appearance as the Savoy state began to erect its residences and offices.

    The Royal Palace was built on the site of the old Bishop's Palace. Then the ancient Roman Praetorian Gate, which had been transformed into a castle under the Acaja family, gave way to Palazzo Madama, which was endowed with a facade and ornamental steps designed by Juvarra in 1718.

    Still in the seventeenth century, it was Guarino Guarini who embellished Piazza Castello with some of its most important buildings: the Church of San Lorenzo and the Cappella della SS. Sindone (the chapel of the Holy Shroud) whose domes enliven the atmosphere of severe elegance conferred on the square by Vittozzi's design.

    Architectural evidence of ducal power proliferated in the city. The Town Hall, built in 1659, bore witness to the civic pride that was a counterweight to the power of the State.

    While these years saw huge changes in layout and architecture, from the social point of view the city had to deal with a number of grave events, like the 1630 outbreak of plague that decimated the population, a tragedy recorded by the survivors in the votive chapel and the commemorative plaques on the wall of via Cardinal Massaia.

    Part 1: Emperor Augustus to the Savoy Government
    Part 3: The 18th Century
    Part 4: The 19th Century
    Part 5: The 20th Century


    Additional Resources:
    Photos of Turin
    Shroud of Turin
    Turin City Guide
    Torino Clothing & Novelties

    "Courtesy of the Comune di Torino. Reprinted with permission."

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