Turin’s Royal Gardens
…the city’s green heart is back
Not only did the end of March bring Spring to Turin but it also brought the reopening of Turin’s Royal Gardens. Almost twenty years have passed since their closure, but Turin’s citizens have never forgotten them.
The birth of the Royal Gardens has ancient roots: they began to flourish in the second half of the 16th century, when, after the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559), Emanuele Filiberto chose the city as the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, which extended from Chambéry to Turin.
At the end of the century the gardens housed fountains and caves, ponds and exotic animals, but also colorful plants such as orange and lemon trees in pots. In 1584 the Garittone for the sentries was built on the Bastion of the Angels, the tower was also called Bastion Verde as it was covered in ivy. However, in the following century, the “Green Bastion Garden” was broadened to include the San Maurizio Bastion because of the new arrangement of the Castellamonte fortifications (1673).
A decade later, under the regency of Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoy-Nemour, there was a second restructuring: André le Nôtre, designer of the Gardens of Versailles, and Henri Duparc were contacted to do the work. The changes made were the great miroir d’eau and the “Garden of Flowers” adjacent to the Bastion Verde with square flower beds and two small fountains. The most famous is the Fountain of the Tritons (Fontana dei Tritorni), which was installed in 1758 after three years of work by the sculptor Simon Martinez. The final design of the area around the Bastion Verde dates back to the last works, carried out between 1886 and 1905 by Roda brothers.
Today, from behind the Royal Palace (in front of Corso San Maurizio) and between the trees you glimpse at the elegant past of these gardens. Elaborated upon inspiration by the most famous gardens of European palaces, there has always been a link between the various buildings of the Polo Reale.
In 1997 City Hall opted for their closure following a serious fire in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud that damaged several famous buildings nearby. The veil of mystery regarding the closure was fully revealed on the web in 2011 from the Royal Palace Director, Daniela Biancolini. They chose to use the gardens behind the main courtyard of the Royal Palace and close to the new wing, in order to place cranes and all the service equipment for the reconstruction of the damaged buildings.
Daniela says, “Alternatively, the yards could be placed in or near the Duomo or the Royal Square: but what would have been the image of the city during the wonderful years that preceded and followed the Winter Olympics, the World Congress of Architects, the same Celebrations of the sesquicentennial? ” She continues, “The closure of the Gardens seemed a lesser evil. Finally, the same Gardens will be the subject of a massive restoration, both in disposition and formal profile, finding within two years the ancient tracks of the XVII and XVIII century, renewing the tree lines weathered by time. We hope to offer to Turin and the growing number of visitors a safer, cozy and more charming green space”.
Five years have passed, all the works are not complete, but the gardens have finally reopened. The inauguration took place on March 28th; after a few days a portion was closed to continue the works, but you can now have free access to the oldest part, the Ducal Garden.
The reopening includes five out of the total seven hectares: in addition to the already available section (to the north), it will be possible to access the Garden of Arts (east) and the Grove (northeast). Tree-lined streets, pedestrian paths, the Fountain of the Tritons, the vessels of the Collino brothers, the 17th century statues and the Amedeo Rizzi and Carlo Antonio Giudice benches will invade Turin in June, at the end of the construction.
The project was made possible thanks to the resources of the Regional Operational Programme, funded by the European Fund for Regional Development 2007/2013, with an effective cost of about 1.5 million euros.
Certainly, in time, Turin’s Royal Gardens will once again be the site which made it famous. The reopening heartened many citizens, but we will have to wait until June to see the gardens at its best. After all, we can’t rush Mother Nature.
For a taste of this splendor you can have free access entering from the Royal Palace in Piazza Castello:
Tuesdays to Sundays from 9AM to 7PM
Turin’s Royal Gardens – useful links:
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