Audio File length: 2.21
English Language: English

Today I'll accompany you through Piazza Castello, which is the key part that unlocks the chest of Turin's historical center!

This huge square that's full of monuments and is always buzzing is not only the geometric center of Turin: its also and above all the stage where the city has acted out many pages of its history.

The square takes its name from the grand palace in the middle. Examine it carefully, because it's an amazing "two-faced" building: the side looking towards the Po River has the appearance of a stern medieval castle; the other side, however, offers the spectacular Baroque image of when it was transformed into the sumptuous Palazzo Madama.

Around the palace lies a vast, open, regularly shaped urban space with monuments, street lamps, and fountains. As you will have already noticed, the layout of Turin's streets follows a regular geometry with all its intersections at right angles: this characteristic, which was maintained and amplified in later centuries, dates back to the city's origins when it was founded as a Roman camp.

The buildings surrounding the square are from different periods, but have a pleasantly homogeneous effect.

The only religious building in the square is almost camouflaged as a '"normal" palace; the only thing that gives it away is its bizarre dome. I'm talking about the Church of San Lorenzo, which was donated by the Dukes of Savoy to the order of Theatine fathers.

Construction on it began in the first half of the 1600s, and after being left unfinished for decades it was completed in 1680 thanks to architect Guarino Guarini, who was actually a Theatine priest. Using the existing building with an octagonal layout, inside you can see how much Guarini indulged himself designing decidedly scenic altars and inventing a dome of intertwined arches that form the shape of a star. A prodigious architectural find in a Baroque explosion of paintings, sculptures, stuccoes, and gilding.


FUN FACT: it is estimated that there are about 18 kilometers of arcades in Turin. Some sides streets are also covered by terraces to avoid interrupting the continuation of arcades and the possibility of covering large distances on foot while being protected from the rain or snow.

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