10 free attractions in Turin, Italy

20 sights of Turin worth visiting

Turin is an unconventional Italian city for several reasons. Firstly, it is surrounded by snow-capped Alps, which form an atypical look for Italy. Secondly, it has a quieter architecture, where the late Baroque and classicism prevail. There’s the bold design of the tower, which has become a symbol of Turin, a rich cultural heritage housed in museums, palaces, churches, the best viewpoints and many other historical monuments – all worth seeing in the city.

In the center of

Turin Cathedral.

Turin’s main cathedral was built in the 15th century and is primarily interesting for its replica of the shroud, an important Christian relic. The shroud is the cloth in which Jesus’ body was wrapped. The canvas has a full-length image of the man. Although it is likely that the Shroud of Turin is a fake, it still attracts believers. For the relic was built a special chapel, in which it is located. Unfortunately, it is rarely exhibited to the public – once every few decades, the next time will be in 2025.

The architecture of the cathedral belongs to the rare Renaissance style in Turin. The facade is made of marble and the interior is rather minimalist. On the first floor is a museum of sacred art.

Piazza San Giovanni

Hours: 07:00-12:30, 15:00-19:00

Palazzo Carignano

The design of Palazzo Carignano is amazing for several reasons. Firstly, it has two completely different facades facing two different squares. Secondly, the wavy shape of the main façade is unusual, which is not so common, and for the XVII was a truly innovative solution. The building is richly decorated with unusual decor: animal figures, sculptures, bas-reliefs and ornaments in the Moorish style. The palace was the birthplace of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, with whom many places in the country are associated and for whom the famous gallery in Milan is named.

Via Accademia delle Scienze, 5

Piazza San Carlo

A central square with several landmarks at once: a monument, twin churches, galleries of palaces and the oldest café in the city.

Monument to Emmanuel Filibert

Monument to Duke Emmanuel Filibert of Savoy. The square itself appeared after Turin became the capital of Savoy. Emmanuel Philibert moved the capital from Chambery, France, to stop the fragmentation of the country and promote its reunification, which he succeeded in doing.

Church of San Carlo and Santa Cristina

The twin churches in the square were actually built at different times and for different purposes. The Church of St. Charles was built in honor of St. Charles Borromeo, who came to the city for the Shroud of Turin. The Church of St. Christina was built sixty years later. Later, many buildings in the center were rebuilt under the influence of Baroque, and the twin churches were not spared this fate. Then their façade was adorned with more opulent decorations and many sculptures.

Mole Antonelliana

The Mole Antonelliana is the main symbol of Turin and one of the tallest buildings in Italy. It is present in all sightseeing photographs of the city, is depicted on Italian coins and was included in the logo of the Olympic Games. Originally there were plans to build a synagogue here with money from the Jewish community. However, as the height increased from 66 to 169 meters and the costs increased accordingly, the congregation refused to finance the project. Then the tower was finished with public funds and a museum moved in when the work was finished. Now there is an interactive film museum, and at the top there is an observation deck with the best views of the surrounding area. The cost of the climb is 8€.

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Via Montebello, 20

Via Roma

One of the most beautiful streets in the center of Turin is remarkable for its galleries with graceful arches, reminiscent of the galleries of Bologna. The street goes from Piazza Castello to the railway station. Most of the premises are occupied by boutiques, stores and cafes. On weekends it becomes pedestrianized.

Church of St. Lawrence

The church of San Lorenzo often goes unnoticed because it does not have its own facade. However, it is interesting from a historical point of view because it was here that the Shroud of Turin was originally kept. It was brought from Chambery by the Duke of Savoy, whose monument stands on the main square. The modesty of the facade is compensated by the richness of the interior paintings and the unusual design of the domes which creates an interesting visual effect.

Via Palazzo di Città, 4

Basilica Superga

The Basilica is situated in the outskirts of Turin on a hill, but the views are worth a visit. The Basilica was built to commemorate the successful defense of the city against the Spaniards and the French during the War of the Spanish Succession. The king stood on this hill watching the siege and promised to build a temple if the battle was won. The basilica was built in the Italian Baroque style. Inside is a tomb with burials of Italian kings. It is easy to get here by cable car or bus.

Strada Basilica di Superga, 73

Entrance: free

Palazzo Madama

Madama is a palace complex which changes its appearance a few times during the history. Built by the Romans the fortress gradually turned into a royal palace. The facade is a magnificent baroque palace, while the back side remains a gloomy castle with two towers. The palace owes its name to the fact that by a strange coincidence the widows of noble families lived in the palace. Inside there is an art museum, interesting in its antique period and the famous paintings of the Renaissance.

Time: 10:00-18:00

Entrance: 10 euros

Monumental cemetery

Like Milan’s Monumental Cemetery in Turin is a veritable open-air gallery. Here one finds remarkably expressive sculptures, tombstones, and mausoleums. Only the rich could afford to be buried, so the cemetery has many burials of famous people: artists, writers and musicians. In order not to miss anything interesting and hear the history of the cemetery and the famous tombs, it is better to book a tour with a professional guide.

Church of St. Dominic

The church is in an atypical Gothic style for the Dominican community in the city. During the Middle Ages, the monastery was the site of executions of people persecuted by the Inquisition, in particular women considered witches. In the 18th century, the widespread rebuilding of Baroque buildings touched the monastery as well. But already in the 19th century all additional decorative elements were removed and the church was restored. It is worth seeing inside, as the walls of the chapel of the Annunciation are frescoed in the 14th century.

Via San Domenico

Entrance: free

Read also: Northern Italy – guide and itinerary.

Palatine Towers

The towers are one of the few monuments in Turin that have survived from ancient Roman times. Once upon a time, the gateway was used to enter the city. Around the Palatine Towers several other archaeological artefacts have been found.

Piazza Cesare Augusto

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Underground Tunnels

The city has preserved underground tunnels, many of which were created centuries ago. Famous palaces had their own underground passages, warehouses, and citadels. Unfortunately, you can’t get there on your own, but you can book a special underground tour where torchlight guides will lead you through the secret passages and tell you the stories and mysteries these places hold.

Royal Palace

The palace was created especially for the residence of the Savoy dynasty, and it was occupied for two centuries. The design is eclectic – it seems as if the architect sought to combine classicism and baroque. However, the point of attraction is the interiors, which are among the richest and best preserved in Europe. By the interiors and household items, one can get an idea of what life looked like for the royal family. Particular attention should be paid to the main staircase, the Ballroom and the Armory. A part of the complex is occupied by the picture gallery with works of Italian masters.

Flickr / Galli Luca

Piazzetta Reale, 1

Date: 08:30-19:00

Entrance: 15 euros

Castel Valentino

The castle is located at the back of the Valentino Park on the banks of the Po River. It was rebuilt from a medieval castle into one of the residences of the Savoy dynasty after the relocation of the capital of Savoy. The sumptuous castle is in Baroque style and surrounded by a picturesque garden. It is now occupied by the University.

Viale Mattioli, 39

Excursions

If you want to get to know the city better and see all the most interesting things at once, the best way is to book an excursion with local Russian-speaking guides:

Museums

Egyptian Museum

One of the largest collections of Egyptian art, archaeological artifacts and historical monuments in Egypt. Was the first Egyptian museum in the world, opened back in the 17th century. It was actively enlarged in the 19th century, but then lost to the Louvre and Berlin.

Cinema Museum

National Museum of Cinema occupies the Mole Antonelliana Tower. Instead of the usual exhibits, it is made up of visual and audio effects, images and screenings. They help make the visitor feel as if they’re in a movie, but beyond that gives a glimpse of where cinema began and how it was made over the decades.

Car Museum

The National Automobile Museum is one of the best museums in the world. The exhibition, which occupies three floors, appeared back in the 1930s and has been constantly added to ever since. A few years ago the interior space was redesigned and made more interactive. Here you can see legendary cars, archive photos and historical exhibits, learn about the history of car racing and appreciate the latest models.

Museum of Ancient Art

The exhibition occupies the Palazzo Madama and consists of archaeological finds and art objects.

All these museums can be visited in a single tour with a local guide:

How to get there

You can get to Turin from Russia by direct flight:

Sometimes it’s cheaper to fly to Milan on a low-cost flight and then drive to Turin.

From Milan there is a bus Flixbus and a comfortable train, for which you can buy a ticket here. The travel time is about an hour.

Map

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10 free attractions in Turin, Italy

Turin is an elegant city where the architecture of buildings and avenues creates spaces and perspectives typical of great capitals. Indeed Turin has always been the capital of the Savoy and then of the Kingdom of Italy: a past that has left an imprint of royalty in the fabric of the city. When politics and governance were moved elsewhere, Turin was able to invent a capital out of other things. It became a point of reference for soccer thanks to the exploits of the Grande Torino and the companies of Juventus, and a center of the automobile industry that shaped its suburbs and neighborhoods, creating myths and places of Italian development such as Lingotto and Mirafiori. The city of kings donned the popular mantle, and out of this contrast was born today’s Turin, elegant and austere, simple and straightforward. Here’s how to get to know it by visiting 10 free attractions.

1. Royal Library of Turin: precious codes and beautiful design

The Royal Library is a veritable temple of culture. With more than 200,000 titles, it was founded in 1831 by Carlo Alberto, who decided to expand his book collection with volumes purchased from antique dealers from all over Europe. His staff began to travel in search of documents through the territories of Savoy, and so ancient volumes and illuminated manuscripts of great beauty and historical value arrived in Turin. In 1839 the collector Volpato acquired a collection of drawings by the greatest artists from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, including works by Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci, of which the library keeps 13 autographed sheets and a codex on the flight of a bird. The structure is inserted into the Royal Museums complex, but you can access the reading room for free.

10 free attractions in Turin, Italy - Photo 2

1. Royal Library of Turin: precious codes and beautiful design

2. Devil’s Gate

If you want to experience a little thrill, walk down Via XX Settembre and stand in front of the door of the Palazzo Trucchi di Levaldigi, better known as the Devil’s Gate. It is a fine work of late 17th century craftsmanship, decorated with carved figures of flowers and animals. The bell, however, depicts a devil with two snakes emerging from its mouth. This detail has stirred the public imagination and fed stories and legends, from a ghost who would roam the building to a skeleton to be found walled up inside. It is said that in the past there was a tarot factory behind this door. The tarot representing the devil is the number 15, and that was exactly the house number of the building in past centuries. Is the story too implausible to impress you? Get to the door on public transportation: you have to take the number 15 bus!

10 free attractions in Turin, Italy - Photo 3

2. Devil’s Gate

3. Leumann Village: a masterpiece of the enlightened entrepreneur

At the gates of Turin, in the municipality of Collenio, there is a small residential area that fascinates with the freedom architecture of its buildings, an old station and a church that mixes different styles. Even more interesting is the history of this urban gem. In fact, it was built between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the last century at the behest of the Swiss entrepreneur Napoleon Leimann, who founded here a large cotton processing factory and around which he built a village equipped with all the amenities where the company’s employees could find a place to live. An intervention in public housing, made with great style, which survived even after the closure of the cotton factory. Beautiful buildings belonging to the municipality are still inhabited. You can reach the village by bus from Corso Francia. Tours are also organized.

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10 free attractions in Turin, Italy - Photo 4

3. Leumann Village: a masterpiece of the enlightened entrepreneur

4. A slice of polenta: the whimsical work of Antonelli

It may surprise you, but in the town of bania cauda, a typical Turin dish, there is a huge piece of polenta. It’s a palazzo, so renamed by the popular imagination because its triangular shape and yellow color reminds you of this gastronomic delicacy. But that’s not the only curious aspect of the building built by Alessandro Antonelli, the Mole architect. It wasn’t just an actual project, it was the first experiment conducted on land owned by Antonelli himself. The narrowest corner is only 54 centimeters. In case you were wondering what could fit in such a small space, here’s the answer: a chimney. The building looked so bizarre in the eyes of Torino residents that no one wanted to move in there for fear the structure might collapse.

10 Free attractions in Turin, Italy - photo 5

4. A slice of polenta: the whimsical work of Antonelli

5. Angelica’s fountain: the path to knowledge

The Angelica Fountain on the northern edge of Piazza Solferino can be viewed from many angles. If you are fascinated by history, you will be interested to know that it was built in 1929 at the behest of Minister Bainotti, who before his death left the sum of 150,000 lire to build the monument in memory of his parents. If you like art, you will admire the beauty of Giovanni Riva’s sculptures that represent the 4 seasons. If you are passionate about Masonic symbolism, you will be able to discover the esoteric meaning of the figures. The female sculptures will represent the virtue and vice of love, while the male sculptures will instead be the guardians of the Pillars of Hercules, placed here to control the path to knowledge, represented by the water flowing from their skin.

10 Free attractions in Turin, Italy - photo 6

5. Angelica’s fountain: the path to knowledge

6. Chapel of Bankers and Merchants

A cycle of paintings with 11 eighteenth-century frescoes illustrating Christmas and Epiphany, a beautiful wooden organ, a marble altar and a perpetual calendar for calculating time precisely for 4,000 years from year 0 are just some of the treasures you can admire inside the Bankers and Merchants Chapel. The building is located in the heart of the city and passes in front of it as you walk from Piazza Castello to Piazza Statuto. It is a masterpiece of Baroque art, built as a place of meeting and prayer for the parishioners who united the world of commerce and financial activity. The environment is characterized by excellent acoustics and classical music concerts are often organized in the chapel.

10 Free attractions in Turin, Italy - photo 7

6. Chapel of Bankers and Merchants

7. Walk and panorama of Superga Hill: a journey between art and breathtaking views

In your travel scrapbook you can’t miss the selfies from the top of the Superga Basilica. From here, you have a view of the city and the mountains in the background. Filippo Juvarra’s Baroque dome is a work of art that will leave you speechless. By climbing the spiral staircase of 131 steps, you can also reach the outer balcony. Entrance to the basilica is free, but to get to the dome, you will have to pay for a ticket of a few euros. If you’re into sports, you’ll want to visit the Grande Torino commemorative plaque, right where the plane crashed on the night of May 4, 1949. To get to the top of the hill, you can take the historic streetcar leaving from Borgo Sassi station, or if you prefer a completely free tour, you can walk along the nature trail.

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10 Free attractions in Turin, Italy - photo 8

7. Walk and panorama of Superga Hill: a journey between art and breathtaking views

8. Covered Galleries.

Turin is like Ville Lumière: did you know that even the city of Savoie has three Indoor Galleries? These architectural structures, built between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mimic the passages of couverts, that is, connections covered by windows that allowed movement between the center buildings even in the event of bad weather. The well-kept interiors house stores, cafes and cinemas. Next to Piazza San Carlo is the Galleria San Federico; a little further, not far from Piazza Castello, you can visit the Galleria Subalpina and then, after walking about a kilometer to Porta Palazzo, the route ends at the Galleria Umberto I. Do you like the films of Dario Argento? The route gets even more interesting further on: some scenes of Profondo Rosso were filmed in the San Federico Gallery, and in Quattro you can see the interiors of the Subalpina Gallery.

10 Free attractions in Turin, Italy - photo 9

8. Covered Galleries.

9. Monte dei Capuccini: a short walk for a great view

If you want to see a beautiful panorama of the city and the Alps, just take a short walk along Monte dei Cappuccini. When you find yourself in Piazza Vittorio Veneto, cross the bridge over the River Po and you will see in front of you the imposing structure of the Church of the Gran Madre. If you look to your right, you will notice a white and gray dome at the top of the hill. This is your destination, the church of Santa Maria al Monte. Originally there was also a Capuchin monastery, which was closed during the Napoleonic era. The place has a rich history, and inside the church there is a painting telling of a miraculous episode that must have happened during the French siege of 1640, when soldiers entered the church to plunder it.

10 Free attractions in Turin, Italy - photo 10

9. Monte dei Capuccini: a short walk for a great view

10. Medieval Village and Valentino Park: a romantic reconstruction

Jagged walls, post windows, towers and turrets reflecting in the river: the medieval village of Valentino envelops you in the world of the fourteenth century and gives the park that surrounds it an infinitely romantic touch. Never mind that everything was built in the late 19th century for the Turin General Exhibition.

10 Free sightseeing tours in Turin, Italy - photo 11

10. Medieval Village and Valentino Park: a romantic reconstruction

However, the history of the village is curious and amusing, and worth telling. When it was built, the architects were inspired by the palaces and castles of Piedmont, and during the exhibition the craft workshops inside were brought to life by costumed figures. After the event, the plan was to raze everything to the ground. Fortunately, the bulldozers didn’t arrive, and the village was turned into a public museum.

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