Italy in miniature


Palazzo Madama and the Mole of Antonelliana

The Mole of Antonelliana is not just the symbol of Turin, it is also the highest stone work structure in the whole of Europe. It reaches a height of 167.50 metres and was started in 1863 by the architect A. Antonelli as a Judaic temple. It was later purchased by the City Council of Turin and finished in 1897 and for many years housed the Museum of the Italian Risorgimento. The lower part, with a neo-classical cella (inner room of a classical temple), is topped with a square cupola enclosed by two tiers of columns surrounding a small temple. Above this rises the slender spire which was completely rebuilt after the topmost 37 metres were destroyed in a hurricane in 1953. On the inside, a fast elevator takes visitors up to the temple from where one can enjoy the marvellous views of the city and surrounding hills.

Palazzo Madama was built on the site previously occupied by the Porta Pretoria (Praetorian Gate), of which the two front towers are still standing and partially obscured by the façade. The building has kept some Gothic developments from the eighth century which constituted the fortress of the Marquis of Monferrato.

In the fifteenth century the palace was modified again, indeed the remains of the Savoy Castle can be seen in the turreted façade overlooking the river Po. In the seventeenth century the castle was transformed into a royal residence and was inhabited by the queens Madame Christine of France who gave their name to the palace, and Madame Giovanna Battista who, in 1718, commissioned the architect Filippo Iuvara to complete the building works. Iuvara constructed the ornate and harmonious west-facing baroque façade and the majestic double hall which are counted amongst the most important architectural creations of the eighteenth century.

Today the palace is home to the Civic Museum of Ancient Art and a symbol of Turin's past.

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