The Gran Madre di Dio Church in Turin is located across from the Ponte Vittorio Emanuel I bridge across the river Po. The dome of the church, which was built to celebrate the return of the king after Napoleon had been defeated, is based on the one of the Pantheon in Rome. Construction of the church was part of a bigger project, modifying the entire Borgo Po district.
Gran Madre di Dio Church Turin
Address: Piazza Gran Madre de Dio, 4 – 10131 Torino. Phone: +39 . Opening times: From 07:30 till 19:00. Ticket price: Free. (Note that prices and hours may be subject to change.)
History and description
In 1814, to celebrate the return of King Vittorio Emanuele I to the city after Napoleon had been defeated, the Decurioni (“city administrators”) of Turin commissioned construction of the Gran Madre di Dio Church.
The actual work started in 1818 and finished in 1831. The architect of the church, which has a circular floor plan, was Ferdinando Bonsignore.
The church underwent some modifications between 1933 and 1940, when the Monumental Ossuary for the Victims of World War I was placed in the crypt. The ossuary contains the remains of 5,000 locals who died in battle.
The architect used Rome’s Pantheon as an inspiration for his design of the dome.
The statue to the right of the steps leading up to the facade personifies “Faith”, the one on the left “Religion”. the sculptor was Carlo Chelli.
The epigraph on the tympanum, ORDO POPULUSQUE TAURINUS OB ADVENTUM REGIS, means “the aristocracy and the people of Turin for the king’s return”.
The statue of King Vittorio Emanuele i on the square itself was the work of Giuseppe II Gaggini. It is almost 10 meters tall.
What to see
The statues in the niches under the pronaos depict San Carlo Borromeo (left), by Giuseppe Pagliani, and San Marco Evangelista, by Giuseppe Chialli.
The four bas-reliefs depicting events from the life of the Madonna were all designed by Carlo Finelli, but sculpted by four different artists. The reliefs depict the “Nativity”, “Presentation in the Temple”, “Marriage” and “Coronation”.
There are also sculptures by Andrea Galassi (“Virgin and Child”) and Edoardo Rubino (“Crucifix” and “Sacred Heart of Jesus”).