Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch.
The city has a rich culture and history, and is known for its numerous art galleries, restaurants, churches, palaces, opera houses, piazzas, parks, gardens, theatres, libraries, museums and other venues. Turin is well known for its baroque, rococo, neo-classical, and Art Nouveau architecture. Much of the city's public squares, castles, gardens and elegant palazzi such as Palazzo Madama, were built in the 16th and 18th century, after the capital of the Duchy of Savoy (later Kingdom of Sardinia) was moved to Turin from Chambery ( nowadays France) as part of the urban expansion.
In the first century BC, probably 28 BC, the Romans created a military camp (Castra Taurinorum), later dedicated to Augustus (Augusta Taurinorum). The typical Roman street grid can still be seen in the modern city, but especially in the neighborhood known as theQuadrilatero Romano. Via Garibaldi traces the exact path of the Decumanus of the Roman City which began at the Porta Decumani which was later incorporated into the Castello or Palazzo Madama. The Porta Palatina, on the north side of the district is still preserved in a park near the Cathedral. Turin reached about 5,000 inhabitants at the time, all living inside the high walls.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the town was conquered by the Lombards, then the Franks of Charlemagne (773). The Contea di Torino (countship) was founded in the 940s, which was held by the Arduinic dynasty until 1050. After the marriage of Adelaide of Susa with Humbert Biancamano's son Otto, the family of the Counts of Savoy gained control. While the dignity of count was held by the Bishop as count of Turin (1092–1130 and 1136–1191) it was ruled as a prince-bishopric by the Bishops. In 1230–1235 it was a lordship under the Marquess of Montferrat, styled Lord of Turin. At the end of the 13th century, when it was annexed to the Duchy of Savoy, the city already had 20,000 inhabitants. Many of the gardens and palaces were built in the fifteenth century when the city was redesigned. The University of Turin was also founded during this period.
In 1706, during the Battle of Turin, the French besieged the city for 117 days without conquering it. By the Treaty of Utrecht the Duchy of Savoy acquired part of the former Duchy of Milan, including Turin, and the architect Filippo Juvarra began a major redesign of the city. Now the capital of a European kingdom, Turin had about 90,000 inhabitants at the time.
In the postwar years, Turin was rapidly rebuilt. The city's automotive industry played a pivotal role in the Italian economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s, attracting to the city hundred of thousands of immigrants, particularly from rural southern regions of Italy. The population soon reached 1 million in 1960 and peaked at almost 1.2 million in 1971. The exceptional growth gained to the city the nickname of "Automobile Capital of Italy" or "Detroit of Italy" (Turin is twinned with Detroit since 1998). In the 1970s and 1980s, the oil and automotive industry crisis severely hit the city, and its population began to sharply decline, losing more than one-fourth of its total in 30 years. The long population decline of the city has begun to reverse itself only in recent years, as the population grew from 865,000 to slightly over 900,000 by the end of the century. In 2006, Turin hosted the Winter Olympic Games.
- Turin Cathedral is the major Roman Catholic church of Turin. Dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, it was built during 1491-1498 and it is adjacent to an earlier campanile (1470). The Chapel of the Holy Shroud, the current resting place of the Shroud of Turin, was added to the structure in 1668-1694. The church lies in the place where the theatre of the ancient Roman city was located. The original Christian sacred house included three churches, dedicated to the Holy Saviour, Saint Mary of Dompno (Santa Maria de Dompno) and, the main of three, St. John the Baptist. According to some sources, the latter's consecration was carried on by Agilulf, the Lombard King of northern Italy from 591 to 613. Here, in 662, Garibald, Duke of Torino was assassinated in the church by a follower of Godepert, whose murder Garibald is believed to have had a part in. The three churches were demolished between 1490 and 1492. The new cathedral, again entitled to St. John the Baptist, was begun in 1491 under design of Amedeo de Francisco di Settignano, also known as Meo del Caprino, who finished it in seven years. The bell tower, however, remained the one erected in 1469, which is still visible today. Filippo Juvarra brought some modifications in the 17th century. Pope Leo X officially confirmed it as metropolitan see in 1515.
- The Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud is a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. The image on the shroud is commonly associated with Jesus Christ, his crucifixion and burial. It is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color. The negative image was first observed in 1898, on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral.
- The Palatine Gate was the ancient Porta Principalis Dextera which allowed access from the North to Julia Augusta Taurinorum, the roman civitas now known as Turin.
It is the main archaeological evidence of a Roman age town, and one of the best preserved structures from the 1st century BC in the world . Together with the ancient theatre, located a short distance away, it is contained within a Archaeological Park opened in 2006. Built in the 1st century BC during the Augustan Era or Flavia Era, Porta Principalis Dextera may have preceded the construction of the walls and perhaps was built on an earlier port of the Republican era.
- Palazzo Madama e Casaforte degli Acaja is a palace in Turin. At the beginning of the first century BC, the site of the palace was occupied by a gate in the Roman walls from which the decumanus maximus of Augusta Taurinorum (the ancient name of Turin) departed. Two of the towers, although restored, still testify to this original nucleus. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the gate was used as a fortified stronghold in the defences of the city. The Palazzo Madama houses Turin's Museo Civico d'Arte Antica. The museum has a rare collection of artifacts from Gandhara, coming from the Italian excavations of the IsMEO at the Butkara Stupa in Pakistan.
- The Mole Antonelliana is a major landmark building, named for the architect who built it, Alessandro Antonelli. A mole is a building of monumental proportions. Construction began in 1863, soon after Italian unification, and was completed in 1889, after the architect's death. Originally conceived of as a synagogue, it now houses the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, and is the tallest museum in the world. The Mole appears on the reverse of the two cent Italian euro coins and was the inspiration for the official emblem of the 2006 Winter Olympics, as well as those of the 2005 World Bocce Championships and the 2006 World Fencing Championships. On one side of the four-faced dome, the first Fibonacci numbers are written with red neon lights: they are part of the artistic work Il volo dei Numeri ("Flight of the numbers") by Mario Merz.