Since the San Lorenzo Church in Turin was built by order of the royal family its official name is Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo. This Baroque church was designed by Guarino Guarini and is famous because of its octagonal dome.
San Lorenzo Church Turin
Address: Via Palazzo di Città, 4 – 10122 Torino. Phone: +39 011 4361527 . Opening times: From 08.30 till 12.00 and from 15.30 till 18.30. Ticket price: Free.
History and description
The history of the Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo starts on the August 10th, 1557. Duke Emanuele Filiperto defeated the French army at San Quintino and since that date happened to be the day of San Lorenzo, Emanuele Filiberto promised to build a church in the saint’s honor. Unfortunately, the Duke’s money was tied up in other affairs so all he could do was rename the already existing Santa Maria ad Presepae Church.
Construction of the actual San Lorenzo Church started much later, in 1634. However, it took another 34 years till the final design was entrusted to Guarino Guarini. Guarini was specifically ordered to come to the city to start the work. The church was finished in 1680.
In order to keep the architectural unity of the Piazza Castello intact, the original design of the facade was never used.
The Baroque interior, all concave and convex curves and, is decorate with polychrome marble. The marble used for the windowless bottom part of the church is dark, to contrast with the metaphorical light coming from the heavens above.
The church was bombed in 1943.
What to see
The figures in the four pendentives leading up to the dome are the four Evangelists. The arches of the dome itself form a perfect octagon. Guarini got his inspiration for the dome from Muslim architecture.
On the day of the Equinoxes, precisely at noon, the sunbeam strikes the fresco in the chapel next to the altar, which is usually completely dark. The light then reflects onto the opposite chapel, to illuminate a second fresco.
When there was a Plague epidemic in Milan, Emanuele Filiberto had the Shroud of Turin taken to the renamed former Santa Maria ad Presepae Church, so that San Carlo Borromeo could come and pray to it.