This blog post was updated on October 29, 2018.
Probably the nicest thing about any visit to Turin, Italy is simply having the opportunity to wander round the narrow lanes of the old city and happening upon its majestic galleries and long covered walkways. From elegant and antiquated cafes to quaint little bars and family owned trattorias, small is beautiful in this big city. Still, while you’re there, Turin offers an excellent opportunity to marvel at the grandiose and learn in broad strokes about some of Italy’s most important historical events.
Here’s a list of Turin’s five biggest must-see attractions.
Via Accademia delle Scienze, 6, 10123
Guess where the biggest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt can be found! The British Museum in London? Nope. The Met in New York? Nada. It’s at the Museo Egizio in Turin. In fact, the Museo delle Antichità Egizie is the only museum other than the Cairo Museum that is dedicated solely to Egyptian art and culture. A collection has been building here since the 17th century, and even as far back as 1824 it was said (by hieroglyph decipherer Jean-François Champollion) that “the road to Memphis and Thebes passes through Turin.”
Much of what’s exhibited today is from excavations conducted during the first 30 years or so of the 20th century. Important pieces in the collection include a painting on canvas dating to 3500 BC, the Tomb of Kha (found intact and transported as a whole to the museum), and three different versions of the Book of the Dead (one of which it the oldest known to have ever existed) alongside the hundreds of other artefacts available to view.
Find out more on their website.
At the very heart of Turin is its royal palace. Originally the House of the Savoy royal family and then home to Italy‘s first parliament soon after it became a nation in 1861, it offers a tangible history lesson and a solid reminder of this land’s turbulent and storied past while taking in a sense of the grandeur that once was daily life for the very privileged few.
For more information go here.
Built atop the site of Roman Emperor Nero’s bath and named for the lavish embellishments received under two queens, the Palazzo Madama was a residence of the Savoy royal family and is today home of the Museo Civico d’Arte Antica, Turin’s municipal museum of ancient art. It’s worth a visit for the four storeys of ancient art (and the Alpine views from atop the palace’s tower that’s open to the public.
Visit the palace online.
Duomo di San Giovanni
This 15th century cathedral is Turin’s only remaining Renaissance structure. The city’s most famous possession, the Shroud of Turin, is kept here at the Museo della Sindone, located within the cathedral. Of course, it won’t be for another decade before members of the public are allowed to see it. Nevertheless, the cathedral and its Museo della Sindone offer an excellent window into Europe’s religious and political past.
Find out more online.
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