Turin actually served as the first capital of Italy and has been a major cultural and economic centre for the country for many years. Located in the north westerly part of Italy, Turin is the capital of the Piedmont region and sits on the river Po. The city of Turin has a population of 892,000 and the greater metropolitan area has an estimated 2.2 million inhabitants.
As with many regions of Italy, Turin saw Roman activity and a military camp was held here. Once the Roman Empire had collapsed in Western Europe, Turin was occupied by various different nations and empires subsequently. During the 1300-1600’s the city saw great growth and gained much of its fantastic architecture and cultural buildings during this period.
In the modern era, Turin was rapidly rebuilt after WWII and its automotive industry became one of the defining influences in the Italian economic revival. The city is now a fantastic blend of old and new and provides a brilliant array of attractions.
Lets explore the best things to do in Turin:
1. Palazzo Reale
The Royal Palace of Turin is a magnificent building that was created in the 16th century.
Residing in the Piazza Castello, the Palace holds a central position in Turin and has stood as a symbol of power for hundreds of years.
A simple design was chosen featuring a square layout and a central courtyard – The front façade features white stonework and many small ornate windows creating a building that feels stately and official.
Inside is a myriad of richly decorated rooms with a style and elegance you would expect from an Italian Royal Palace.
Guided tours are available of the interior and allow you to admire such rooms as the Room of the Throne and the Daniel Gallery.
2. Palazzo Madama
Turin is packed full of extravagant palaces and historical buildings and the Palazzo Madama is the second palace to be located in the Piazza Castello.
Created in the first century BC, the original palace has stood for hundreds of years during the Roman Empire and was modified and built upon heavily during subsequent years.
Originally serving as a defensive fortification, it was not until the 13th century that the building became a palace.
Standing in the Castello square, the front façade of the palace features a row of ornate columns and a palisade decked with sculptures.
Inside the palace you can walk up the richly decorated stairways and admire the sublime decadence of the various rooms and hallways.
3. Mole Antonelliana
Possibly the most distinct building in the whole of Turin, the Mole Antonelliana towers above the surrounding skyline and its huge pointed basilica is an icon of the city.
Mole in Italian actually means a monumental building and this particular mole was created in 1889 although it looks much older.
Originally a Jewish Synagogue, the building now houses the National Cinema Museum and is actually the tallest museum in the world.
At night the basilica of the building is lit up and acts as a beacon that is visible from many points in the city.
A trip to Turin is no complete without viewing the Antonelliana and also the museum held within.
4. Turin Egyptian Museum
This fantastic and informative museum is located between the Piazza San Carlo and the Piazza Castello in the centre of Turin.
Dedicated to ancient Egyptian archaeology and history, this museum is a history buffs dream and contains a huge amount of artefacts and displays.
Created in 1833, the original collection was imported from other museums and has been expanded greatly over the years.
Notable items within the collection include various statues of Sekhmet, Seti II and Ramesses, a Sarcophagus of Ibi, scripts of detailed Papyrus full of hieroglyphics and different everyday earthenware jugs etc.
Guided tours are available to gain a great insight into the individual items or for those who wish to work at their own pace, an audio guide can be bought.
Skip-the-Line tickets available: Egyptian Museum Tickets and Guided Tour (This is a must-do)
5. Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista
Built on the site of three previous churches, the Duomo di Torino is a fine example of Renaissance architecture that was created in 1491. Located next to the Royal Palace this church is dedicated to the patron saint of Turin – Giovanni Battista.
The front façade is created from white marble and is simple but effective and the inviting steps thrust out into the Piazza san Giovanni.
Inside the cathedral is a myriad of design features including some fantastic frescos and marble statues of famous religious figures.
A free standing bell tower actually stands next to the cathedral unconnected and this can be climbed for unbelievable views of the city of Turin.
6. Turin Shroud
Most people will have heard of this extremely significant and hallowed religious artefact.
This religious artefact is a piece of cloth that supposedly bears the image of Jesus of Nazareth and is believed to be his burial shroud.
Origins and the identity of the shroud have been debated by scholars, scientists and theologians alike and no conclusive story has arisen.
The royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist houses the shroud and is in itself is a hugely interesting and ornate building.
Inside the structure, the Turin Shroud lies in a protective casing and can be viewed free of charge.
There is also an exhibition detailing the history and mystery surrounding the shroud.
7. National Cinema Museum
Located in the impressive Mole Antonelliana tower, this is one of the most visited museums in Italy due to its fantastic exhibitions and stunning building.
For all things cinema and movie related, this is the place to be! This gigantic collection includes historical cinematic devices such as magic lanterns to a large stock of film posters, movie reels, books and cinematic props and objects.
Spread across five different floors, the museum is split into different genres including sci-fi and horror.
For any film and cinema buff this is a brilliant venue to visit and will provide hours of fun and exploration.
8. Basilica di Superga
If you climb to the heights of the Superga mountain range to the east of Turin you will find the beautiful Basilica di Superga.
When stood in the city Centre of Turin, you can look towards the mountain and see the Basilica perched on top.
Constructed in 1731 and designed by Filipo Juvarra, the basilica features a baroque style and has a beautiful orange and white design with many columns and ornate decoration.
The main basilica towers above the church and is flanked by two beautiful towers whilst the interior is highly decorated with a dome that lets in a great deal of light through a series of arched windows.
Don’t forget to take a look at the breathtaking views down into Turin and the surrounding countryside.
9. Parco Valentino
Located on the banks of the river Po, the Parco Valentina is the second largest public park in Turin and covers an area of 500,000 m2. Created in 1856, it serves as the cities first public garden and has gone from strength to strength.
Inside the park you can find a magnificent Botanical garden, the Valentino Castle, and a replica medieval village.
Furthermore there is a myriad of footpaths and cycle routes, open pastures and a great walk by the river.
If you are looking for refreshment or food, you can also find several fine cafes and restaurants within the grounds of the park.
10. Porta Palatina
One of the many Roman ruins that still stands today in modern Turin, the Porta Palatina serves as the best preserved Roman Gateway in the world from the 1st century.
Originally, this immense gateway would have served as an access point to the inner city centre through the city walls that once surrounded ancient Turin.
Two large circular towers flank the gateway and are adorned with crenulations and a central wall section contains many individual arches.
Standing at 30m and 26m high respectively the gateway and towers dominate the surrounding area.
Sitting in a pleasant public park, the Porta Palatina and ruins are a great piece of history to explore.
11. Santuario di Santa Maria Consolatrice
Also known as the Church of our Lady of Consolation, this basilica stands as one of the oldest places of worship in the city and has stood in some form since the early 11th century.
Located in the Piazza della Consolata approximately 5 minutes walk to the west of the Piazza della Repubblica, this small church has a great deal of character and charm.
A triangular pediment adorns the front entrance and is held in place by four large stone columns.
Inside the basilica there is a great deal of red marble, gold and religious iconography.
The main altar features several religious frescos and detailed paintings whilst the smaller altar and shrine feature a gold relief of the virgin Mary.
12. Piazza San Carlo
A baroque style square, the Piazza San Carlo was established and developed in the 16th and 17th centuries and pays tribute to Charles Borromeo who was an influential Cardinal and Archbishop.
In the centre of this square stands a bronze statue of the Duke of Savoy, whilst at the edges sit the churches of Santa Cristina and San Carlo Borromeo.
The square is framed by a series of archways and marble faced buildings that give it a beautiful symmetry.
If you are looking for a quite place to enjoy a coffee or a meal, this square offers the perfect choice due to the many cafes and restaurants that nestle under the archways.
13. Piazza Castello
This square is undoubtedly the most important and famous Piazzas in Turin and houses many iconic buildings.
Located in the centre of the old city, the Piazza Castello is a huge public space that is the life of the city.
Here you can find both the Palazzo Reale and the Palazzo Madama together with the Royal Armoury and the Royal Theatre.
Furthermore there is a host of cafes and restaurants and also some beautiful fountains and statues to admire.
When visiting Turin, this square is undoubtedly one of the best places to start a walking tour and take in the sights of the fantastic architecture and historical buildings found here.
14. GAM Museum
For art lovers, the GAM (Gallery of Modern Art) is a wonderful place that features a host of fine artwork and exhibits.
Turin was actually one of the first cities to open a museum for modern art and this particular establishment was first created in 1895. Containing over 5500 paintings, sculptures, installations and drawings, the collection is extensive.
Modern artists featured include Modigliani, Carra, Guttuso, Renoir and Chagall and this eclectic display of contemporary art is truly intriguing.
Located in the Crocetta district of Turin, the museum can be reached via the Porta Nuova line on the underground system.
15. Juventus Stadium
Possibly one of the most well-known football stadiums in the world, and home to the most decorated Italian club, the Juventus stadium is a true feat of engineering genius.
With a capacity of 41,000 it might not be the largest, but it has a huge amount of character and is a fantastic sporting venue.
Stadium tours are available on a daily basis and there is also a museum dedicated to Juventus football team.
If you are visiting Turin and happen to be a football fan, you should not pass up to visit the home of the iconic Juventus Football club.