The most striking building in Turin‘s central square Piazza Castello is the Palazzo Madama, a part-medieval, part-Baroque castle, which also incorporates part of an ancient Roman city gate. It is the current seat of the Museo Civico di Arte Antica.
Palazzo Madama Turin
Address: Piazza Castello – Turin. Phone: . Opening times: . Ticket price: . Directions: From the train station, walk straight ahead on Via Roma and you will automatically end up in the Piazza Castello.
History and description
The history of the Palazzo Madama actually begins in Roman times, as evidence by the ruins of the Praetorian gate and the two towers incorporated into the Baroque facade.
Constructed in the 13th century, its then owner, the Marquis Guglielmo VII of Monferrato, had turned it into a fortified residence. By order of the Savoy family, who took possession of the building, the castle was enlarged by Ludovico d’Acaia.
When its defensive function became obsolete, the ducal palace was embellished. The architect Filippo Juvarra had made comprehensive plans, but in the end only his new façade was built. The reliefs on this facade are by Giovanni Baratta, as are the vases and statues on the balustrade. As for the interior, Juvara’s stately steps leading from the atrium to the present museum are particularly striking.
In 1799, the Palazzo Madama was occupied by a revolutionary government. Two years later, the gallery connecting the building to the Royal Palace was destroyed.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Palazzo Madama served as an Observatory, as a Pinacotheque, as a Senate and as a Court of Cassation.
Nowadays, no one lives in the Palazzo Madama. It is the current seat of the Museo Civico di Arte Antica, where since 2006, after years of restoration, paintings, sculptures and ceramics can be admired.
The name derives from the widow of Vittorio Amedeo I. This Madama Reale Maria Cristina had her residence in the palace from 1637onward. The renovation ordered by this lady was much appreciated by another aristocratic madama, Maria Giovanna Baptista di Savoia-Nemours, the second wife of Vittorio Amedeo I, who moved in 60 years later.
Palazzo Madama Turin