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The Palazzo Madama is situated in the centre of Piazza Castello, with its facade facing Via Garibaldi. It takes its name from the two Royal Dames who lived here, Maria Cristina and Giovanna Battista. During past centuries, it was the home of the Savoy family, as well as the site of the signing of important treaties, and the seat of the Italian Senate when Turin was the country's capital. Today it houses the Antica Museum of Art. Its historical date is somewhat difficult to determine because it has been continually reconstructed throughout its history. The oldest part is the Roman Porta Pretoria. The back of the building dates to a thirteenth century castle which can still be seen in the two towers situated at each corners. The typically baroque facade was built in the seventeenth century by the architect Filippo Juvarra. The internal staircase is also attributed to him and is one of the best examples of the Piedmontese baroque style.
Cortile di Palazzo Carignano, seen from its courtyard looks majestic in the bright afternoon sun. The red brick building, one of the most important historical sites in the city, is also the home of National Museum of the Italian Risorgimento. Stand in the courtyard between the two wings of the palace absorbing the splendid view of the beautiful arches and pillars, decorated with fine sculpturing. Cortile di Palazzo Carignano is an example of Italy's rich architectural heritage. Feel the magnanimity of the building rising tall in front of you, with tall windows and sculptures made to commemorate the colonization of Canada.
This relatively small square is surrounded by places of historic interest. On the eastern side is the Carignano theatre and the historic Cambio restaurant. The opposite side of the square is completely taken up by the beautiful facade of Palazzo Carignano, whose curved lines represent one of the most original examples of Piedmontese baroque by Guarino Guarini in 1679. This was the Savoy residence, the home of the Subalpine House of Commons and of the first Italian parliament. Nowadays, it is the National Museum of the Risorgimento.
The Palazzo dell'Università was built between 1713 and 1720 according to a design by Michelangelo Garove. It is now the home of administrative offices and the rector of the University of Studies of Turin. Admire this internal courtyard with a double loggia and the monumental portal on Via Verdi.
Residences of the Royal House of Savoy give a glimpse into the Savoy dynasty and are a group of structures built by eminent architects and artists of that time. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These include Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace), Palazzo Madama (Museo Civico d'Arte Antica), Palazzo Carignano (Museum of the Risorgimento), Castello del Valentino, Palazzo Chiablese, Biblioteca Reale, Regia Zecca, Facciata del Teatro Regio and Villa della Regina.
On the north-eastern side of Piazza Castello, a little square can be seen. It is called the Piazza Reale, and is closed by a cast-iron gate topped by statues of the Dioscuri, twin brothers of Helen of Troy. On the far side of Piazza Reale is a view of the Royal Palace of Turin, residence of the Savoy family since 1865. It is possible to go on a guided tour through the various rooms where the rulers of the Savoy household once lived. The Royal Gardens are of particular interest, as they are situated behind the palace, and play host to various open-air bars and evening entertainment during the summer months.
Palazzo Chiablese, now head office of the government department responsible for the environment and historical buildings, is located along the left side of the Royal Piazzetta and is directly linked to the Royal Palace. It was built in the 17th century and renovated by Benedetto Alfieri in 1740 in the Torinese, baroque style.
The Palazzo Carpano is situated opposite the Church of San Filippo. It is a beautiful example of Piedmontese baroque building, and was constructed by the architect Garove in 1686 and added to in the eighteenth century. At the beginning of the 1700's it was a meeting place for intellectuals from all parts of Italy. An interesting feature is the entrance atrium to the internal courtyard with its characteristic twisted pillars. It is only possible to make a visit if the owners are not present.