In a cultural city like Turin, nothing is static, so even when it seems that you know perfectly a palace, a monument, a building, then, right at that moment, it will surprise you.
The most central and therefore the most taken-for-granted monument in Turin is the Acaja Castle (Castello Acaja), in Castle Square (Piazza Castello).
The charm of having a medieval castle, entirely preserved in the city centre, with its tall towers, imposing walls, and a refined decoration in the upper part (as was the norm for buildings of noble lineage but with defensive purposes) is here surpassed by the fact that in the eighteenth century a baroque façade was added to the castle, which transformed the Acaja Castle into Madama Palace (Palazzo Madama). A castle-palace: a unicum all of our own!
The triple projecting portal, an exceptional work of the architect Filippo Juvarra, invites you to enter this majestic palace, a grandiose treasure chest that preserves the entire history of our city. Inside of which there are many options for visiting on offer.
Starting from the impressive Staffarda Room, with its original fifteenth-century coffered ceiling from the Casa del Vescovo (Bishop’s House), and which houses the sixteenth-century wooden choir from the Staffarda Abbey, the route of the Civic Museum of Ancient Art, founded in 1863, unwinds. In the basement is where the Medieval Lapidary is housed, the ground floor hosts the Piedmontese figurative art collections from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, and the second floor holds the collections of decorative arts (ceramics, ivories, jewellery).
If you are a lover of the Royal Residences, on the first floor you can visit the apartments of the Royal Madams, who had wanted the castle restored to be able to reside there. In the lavishly decorated rooms, you will find seventeenth-century art with works by the superlative court cabinetmaker, Pietro Piffetti.
For those who love Renaissance decorative art, until October 14th there is the exhibition dedicated to Renaissance Maiolica pottery set up in the Senate Room, the large double-height hall with a triumph of paintings and stuccos in the frieze and in the vault, which was the seat of the first Senate of the Kingdom of Italy (the monumental hall with its view of the grand staircase is worth the visit alone!).
If you are one of those who in every city loves to climb the highest tower to have a 360° panoramic view, enter the palace and head directly to the northeast tower. Here a transparent panoramic lift will take you to the highest windows from which you can see, those above the decorations (without fixtures and glass). Here the feeling of looking out from the medieval windows, among the highest in Turin, is fascinating and the view is truly evocative. You can see the architectures at this height up close, which are normally seen from below and the indicative and descriptive panels are very detailed, providing an “informed” panoramic view.
And if, instead, you want a relaxing and refreshing walk in the countryside? Acaja Castle also offers you this! One aspect of Madama Palace, which is certainly “for experts” because very few really know it exists, is the medieval garden, located all around the medieval walls of the palace, but hidden by the walls of the moat that are still preserved. The garden, of course, was recently rebuilt, but with a conscious mind to the past, being put forth again in small parts, the areas in which the fifteenth-century garden was divided into. The result is truly exceptional: walking and sitting in the Prince’s garden, during the very hot summer days or the colourful spring and autumn days, it is certainly a gem not to be missed in your Turin experience!
If you know how to appreciate contemporary art and unconventional entertainment, don’t miss the temporary exhibition that occupies the spaces of the central courtyard of the castle until November 11th. It is called From the Earth to the Moon and with this choice you will have at least 2 levels of visiting.
The first is the evocative discovery of the history of the architecture of the building: under your feet, a plexiglass floor reveals the layering of the city. You will see the big blocks of Roman paving because from here started the decumanus maximo (which corresponds to today’s via Garibaldi street), above which you will find the foundations of the thirteenth-century fortified house and on higher levels the subsequent medieval reconstructions. Looking up and around you, you will see the fourteenth-century portico structures with pointed arches and the seventeenth-century plasters on the vault. Once in the northeast corner, you will notice the remains of a helicoid spiral staircase, the viretum, built in the fifteenth century and the only staircase of the building that served all the floors of the castle.
The second is the exhibition From the Earth to the Moon: a brilliant path to approach the representation and investigation of the Moon and Space in contemporary art to the narration of the space exploration that led to its actual discovery. The choice of works is interesting and boasts illustrious names: from Felice Casorati to Arnaldo Pomodoro, from Yves Klein to Max Ernst to Mirò. The discovery part of the exhibit is obtained through the projection of historical documentaries. The course of investigation and juxtaposition is closed by the display of theatrical and cinematographic posters and advertising material of the time. The exhibition is extremely useful because it brings together “high” and “low” and the result is very pop: try this experience, you will like it!
– Open daily 10am – 6pm
– Closed on Tuesdays
– Last admission at 5 pm
– Full: 10€
– Reduced: 8€
– Free: for minors (under 18 years of age) and other categories
– Senate Room – Exhibition “Renaissance Italy. The splendour of maiolica” – Full: 8€
– Medieval Court – Exhibition “From the Earth to the Moon” – Full: 8€
Where to Stay – Hotels in Turin
Whenever we travel in Italy, we always try to stay at an NH Hotel. They are simply the best! The rooms are comfortable and well-appointed. The staff are always very friendly and helpful. And they have the most delicious breakfast! In Turin, we are fortunate to have several NH Hotels but there are definitely two centrally located that we can highly recommend: the NH Collection Torino Piazza Carlina and the NH Torino Santo Stefano. Both are beautiful hotels in the city centre, walking distance from all the main tourist attractions.
If you are looking for something a little more economical, we can also highly recommend the Le Petit Hotel, a sweet little hotel in the heart of Turin, just next to Piazza Solferino and walking distance to all the main attractions and museums.