Turin – Torino grand tour: 1800 to today

This is an excerpt from the book “Turin

Po River
Po River

Walking is definitely the best way to feel the pulse of Turin: stroll around the city parks, drop into its historic cafès, take in the multiethnic quarters, enjoy fashion and shopping, but don’t forget that Turin is magical too. So put on your walking shoes and let your curiosity lead the way.


Turin has a Baroque face and an Art Nouveau face, it has its Royal Residences, its bridges and 18km of arcades lining the city center, but there are innovative installations too, set on creating a brand new look.

A tour of 20th-century and contemporary Turin combines a history lesson with an introduction to some avant-garde infrastructures and works of art.

Torino Italy 4

During the 1800s, Turin crossed the River Po and extended up the hillside: this was when the Gran Madre di Dio church was built.

The impressive Piazza Vittorio Veneto opened on the banks of the Po, opposite the neoclassical cathedral and connected by the Vittorio Emanuele I bridge, which offers a magnificent view of Monte del Cappuccini.

The church is a mausoleum-ossuary commemorating the First World War.

Turin’s iconic Mole Antonelliana was built in 1899, designed by the visionary genius Alessandro Antonelli, and at 167.5 meters, it was Europe’s tallest building for many years.

Mole Antonelliana
Mole Antonelliana

Today it is the home of the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, that has been given an eye-catching futuristic design by the Swiss architect Francois Confino. The panoramic lift accesses the spire all year round.

As the 19th century slid into the 20th, Art Nouveau prevailed in Turin: an elegant style with refined details that was expressed here in a number of middle-class houses across the city: on Corso Francia, on the hillside and in the area around the Valentino Park.

Modern Turin

In the 1920s and 1930s, two new architectural symbols were erected in Turin: Lingotto, the most important European automotive production plant, designed by Giacomo Mattè Trucco and now transformed into a polyvalent and trade fair center,, thanks to Renzo Piano’s project; central Via Roma, whose arcades and galleries were designed by Marcello Piacentini.

Other important buildings date back to the 1950s, like the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Palazzo del Lavoro and Palazzo a Vela – now renamed Palavela – and the refurbished Teatro Regio, created by Carlo Mollino, master of modern Torinese architecture.

Contemporary Turin

Galleria d'Arte Moderna
Galleria d’Arte Moderna Photo www.museotorino.it

The city’s architectural evolution began in the 1970s, laying the foundations for the transformation in progress: that of new, state-of-the-art infrastructures built for the Olympic appointment, like Palasport by Arata Isozaki and Pier Paolo Maggiora, the Oval by Hok Sport and Studio Zoppini, Palavela reinterpreted by Gae Aulenti and Arnaldo De Bernardi.

Then there is the covered market, by Massimiliano Fuksas, in Piazza della Repubblica, the University District for the Faculty of Humanities by Norman Foster, the new Porta Susa Station by Gruppo Arep, the Santo Volto church by Mario Botta.

These and other buildings, created by conversions of historic or disused industrial structures are just a few examples of how the city is being transformed by the great names of architecture.

Where to stay in Turin

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