Palazzo Madama, the cradle of history

Palazzo Madama (c)
Palazzo Madama (c)
Situated in the centre of Piazza Castello, Palazzo Madama has always been a reference point in the city, from Roman times to 1848, when it became the headquarters of the first Subalpine Senate. Its name refers to “Madame Royale” Christine of France, who took up residence here in 1600. The view of the city from the Panoramic Tower is spectacular.

Palazzo Madama was converted into a museum to protect the historical heritage of the region and has hosted the collection of the Civic Museum of Ancient Art since 1861. A must-visit venue that enthralls visitors with its works of art housed in an elegant Baroque palace. 

Credit for the current aesthetic of this white stone building goes to architect Filippo Juvarra, but, above all, to the artistic taste of two women of the Savoy dynasty, Marie Christine of Bourbon-France, and Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy-Nemours, the ‘Royal Madames’ who lived here.

The museum offers visitors a two-in-one tour. The first is dedicated to the history of its rooms, while the other focuses on its works of art. Its sprawling collections are displayed chronologically on four floors. The basement, located on a level with the Roman foundations offering direct access to the Medieval Garden, houses collections dating back to the Middle Ages, including stone sculptures and jewelry; the ground floor is devoted to works ranging from the Gothic to Renaissance eras, including Antonello da Messina’s sublime “Portrait of a Man”.

The 17th and 18th-century Baroque rooms of the royal family, featuring a picture gallery, ornate decorations and original period furniture, can be viewed on the first floor, while decorative arts, from various eras, including ceramics, ivories, fabrics and glass, complete the tour of the second floor.