1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Turin
TURIN, a city of Piedmont, Italy, capital of the province of Turin, formerly of the kingdom of Sardinia until 1860, and of Italy till the removal of the seat of government to Florence in 1865. Pop. (1906), 277,121 (town), 361,720 (commune), with a garrison of 8500, the town being the headquarters of the I. army corps. The area of the city is 4155 acres, and its octroi circle measures nearly 9 m. Its geographical position is excellent; built upon alluvial soil 784 ft. above sea-level at a short distance from the Alps, it stands upon the river Po, which here runs from south to north just above the confluence of the Dora Riparia. The streets and avenues, almost all of which are straight, cut each other at right angles, forming blocks of houses, here as elsewhere called “ islands.” As viewed from the east the city stands out boldly against the Alps. Taken as a whole it is modern in aspect, but its regularity of form is in reality derived from the ancient Roman town of Augusta Taurinorum, which formed its nucleus. The mean temperature at Turin (1871–1900) is 53° F. (winter 35°, summer 71°), with an average maximum of 90°, and an average minimum of 17°. Mists are frequent in the winter mornings, and to a less degree in autumn. Snow falls on an average only on seven days per annum. The rainfall averages 34 in.
The cathedral of St John the Baptist is a cruciform Renaissance building dating from 1492–1498, by the Florentine Meo da Caprina. The site was first occupied by a church erected, it is said, by the Lombard duke Agilulf (7th century). Behind the high altar of the cathedral (from which it is separated by a glass screen) is the chapel of the Sudario or Sindone, built (1657–1694) by Guarini as a royal burial-place. The “ sudario ” from which it takes its name is asserted to be the shroud in which Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the body of Jesus. La Beata Vergine della Consolata, another of Guarini's Works, has a tower which originally belonged to the church of St Andrew, founded by the monk Bruning in 1014, and attracts attention by Vincenzo Vela's beautiful kneeling statues of Queen Maria Teresa and Queen Maria Adelaide, as well as by the image of the Madonna, which has the credit of having warded off the cholera in 1835. Other churches of some note are San Filippo Neri (1672–1772), the dome of which fell in just as it was approaching completion under the hands of Guarini and was restored by Juvara, and La Gran Madre de Dio, erected to commemorate the return of the royal family in 1814. Of the secular buildings the more interesting are the Palazzo Madama, first erected by William of Montferrat at the close of the 13th century on the Roman east gate of the town, remains of the towers of which were incorporated in it, and owing its name to the widow of Charles Emmanuel II., who added the west façade and the handsome double flight of steps from Juvara's designs; and the extensive royal palace begun in the 17th century. Many of the palaces have fine pillared courtyards of the baroque period, some of which are the work of Guarini. For the Porta Palatina and other remains of the ancient city walls see below. The citadel, erected in 1565, has been almost entirely demolished. There is practically nothing of the Renaissance period except the cathedral. The Castello del Valentino is a building partly in the French style of the middle of the 16th century. The university, founded in 1400 by Lodovico di Acaja, has faculties of jurisprudence, medicine and surgery, literature and philosophy, and the mathematical, physical and natural sciences. The number of students is about 2500. The old university buildings erected in 1713 by the Genoese architect Ricca proved too small; and new buildings, fitted more especially for the medical and scientific departments, have been erected. The original building contains the valuable library (now national), many of the treasures of which were destroyed by fire in 1906, and a collection of Roman antiquities. The academy of sciences was founded in 1757. It occupies a building erected in 1687 by Guarini as a Jesuit college. The museum of antiquities and the picture gallery, of which it has the custody, are both of high interest—the former for the local antiquities of Piedmont and Sardinia (notably from Industria) and for the Egyptian treasures collected by Donati and Drovetti, and the latter for its Van Dycks and pictures by north Italian masters. There is a museum of zoology and mineralogy in Palazzo Carignano (another of Guarini's buildings), and the royal palace contains the royal armoury (a fine collection made by Charles Albert in 1833) and the royal library with its rich manuscript collection and its 20,000 drawings, among which are sketches by Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. The civic museum has a great variety of artistic and literary curiosities, among them a remarkable collection of autographs and the Lombard missal (1490).
There are many modern public monuments—considerably more than in other Italian towns—and some of them are fine. The Mole Antonelliana, built by Alessandro Antonelli, is the most important example of modern architecture in Turin. It belongs to the municipality, and is used for the Risorgimento Museum. It is the highest brick edifice in Europe, its summit being 510 ft. above ground. It is a square edifice with a large dome and lofty spire, the dome being raised upon a hall with three galleries, one above the other, so that from the floor to the top of the dome is over 300 ft.
Among the hospitals is that called by the name of its founder, Cottolengo, a vast institution providing for more than 5000 persons; there are also the Ospedale Maggiore di San Giovanni, the Ospedale Mauriziano, and many other hospitals for special diseases, as well as asylums and charitable institutions of all kinds.
The industries comprise metallurgy, machine-making, chemicals, silk and cotton weaving, tanning and leather-working. The manufacture of motor-cars has become of great importance, and Turin is the chief seat of the industry in Italy, nearly 5000 workmen being employed. Chocolate, liqueurs and vermouth are also made here. The application of electricity is widely developed on account of the proximity of Alpine valleys rich in torrents. The supply of drinking water is furnished by three aqueducts.
The opening of the St Gothard tunnel exercised a prejudicial influence upon the traffic of the network of railways of which Turin is the centre, and Milan, owing to its nearness both to this and to the Simplon, has become the most important railway centre of Italy. Turin has, however, the advantage of being the nearest to the Mont Cenis, while the completion of the line through Cuneo over the Col di Tenda affords direct communication with the French Riviera. Main lines run also from Turin to Vercelli and thence to Novara and Milan (the direct route), to Casale Monferrato, to Alessandria (and thence to Piacenza or Genoa), to Genoa via Asti and Acqui, to Brà and Savona, and branch lines to Lanzo, Torre Pellice, Aosta, Rivoli, Rivarolo, &c., and steam tramways in various directions.
For administrative purposes the city is divided into two municipal police sections and into seven government districts or mandamenti. The military organization is proportionate in importance to the strategical position of Turin near the French frontier. There is a military arsenal with laboratories, a military academy for artillery and engineer officers, a war school, and a military hospital.
Among the surroundings of Turin the hill of Superga (2300 ft. above the sea) merits special mention. Victor Amadeus II. erected there a votive basilica in memory of the liberation of Turin from the French in 1706. King Charles Albert and other kings and princes of the Savoy dynasty are buried in the crypt. Not far from Turin are also the castles of Moncalieri, Stupinigi, Rivoli, Racconigi, Aglè, Venaria, and the ancient monastery of the Sagra di San Michele (753 metres above sea-level), famous for its view of the Alps as fat as the beginning of the Lombard plain.
Turin was always a place of importance and military strength, in spite of numerous vicissitudes, till at length it was made the chief town of Piedmont by Amadeus, first duke of Savoy. Under Emmanuel Philibert it became the usual residence of the ducal family, and in 1515 the bishopric was raised to metropolitan rank by Leo X. Between 1536 and 1562 Turin was occupied by the French, and in 1630 it lost 8000 of its citizens by the plague. The French were masters once more from 1640 to 1706, and again from 1798 till 1814, when Piedmont was restored to the house of Savoy. From 1860 to 1865 Turin was the capital of Italy.
The ancient Augusta Taurinorum was a city of Gallia Cisalpina, the chief town of the Taurini. The natural advantages of its site and its position with relation to the pass over the Alpis Cottia (Mont Genèvre; see Cottii Regnum) made it important in early times, though it cannot have been very strongly fortified, inasmuch as Hannibal, after crossing the Alps in 218 B.C., was able to take it after a three days' siege. It became a colony either under the triumvirs or under Augustus, and it was then no doubt that it was fortified. It was partly burned down in A.D. 69, but continued to be prosperous, as may be gathered from the remains of its fortifications and from the many inscriptions which have been discovered there. The Roman town formed a rectangle 2526 ft. by 2330; the line of the walls, which were 21 ft. high, 7 ft. thick at ground level and 3 ft. at the top, is well known, inasmuch as they were standing till about 1600; and the north gate, the Porta Palatina, still exists; it has a double opening, and two orders of arches above, and is flanked by two sixteen-sided brick towers. The east gate, similar in character, still exists in part within the Palazzo Madama. The north-west corner tower is also in part preserved, and traces of other parts of the enceinte have been found. The interior of the town was divided by seven streets from east to west and eight from north to south into 72 insulae; and the ancient pavement and the drains below it are frequently found under the streets of the central portion of the modern town, indicating that they follow the ancient lines (see especially Notizie degli Scavi, 1902, p. 277). In the great extensions which the city has undergone since 1600, the old rectangular arrangement has been followed. Remains of a theatre have been discovered beneath the Palazzo Vecchio, demolished in 1899 (A. Taramelli, in Notizie degli Scavi, 1900, p. 3).
See C. Promis, Storia dell' antica Torino (Turin, 1869); A. d'Andrade, Relazione dell' ufficio regionale per la conservazione dei monumenti del Piemonte e della Liguria, 7 seq. (Turin, 1899).