Turin’s Royal Museums: an itinerary of history, art and nature

Turin's Royal Armoury
Turin's Royal Armoury
The Royal Museums are located in the heart of the city (in Piazzetta Reale next to Piazza Castello) and offer a fascinating itinerary with artefacts dating from the prehistoric era to the present time. This large museum project encompasses Palazzo Reale (the Royal Palace), the Royal Gardens, the Library and the Royal Armoury, the Savoy Gallery, the Archaeological Museum, Palazzo Chiablese and the Chapel of the Holy Shroud.

The residence of the Savoys until 1865, the museums of Palazzo Reale are now owned by the Italian government. The museum tour comprises a 3km route spread over 30,000 sq.m. and 7 hectares of Royal Gardens. In 1563, Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy moved the capital of the duchy from Chambéry to Turin, marking the beginning of a major urban transformation and the enrichment of the dynastic collections, which now include artefacts from the prehistoric era to the present time.

The Galleria del Beaumont, home to the Royal Armoury, can be accessed from Palazzo Reale via the Sala del Medagliere. The Royal Armoury, opened to the public in 1837, host one of the world’s richest collections of ancient arms and armour together with the Royal Armoury of Madrid and the Imperial Armoury of Vienna: more than 5,000 objects ranging from the Prehistoric era to the 20th century, including an unmissable section dedicated to 16th-century arms and armour. The artefacts displayed originate both from the private collection of the King of Italy and acquisitions and donations, often associated with diplomatic activities. A prime example are the oriental and African arms and armour.

The entry ticket to the Royal Museums includes the following itineraries: the Royal Apartment on the first floor of Palazzo Reale, the Armoury, the Savoy Gallery and the Antiques Museum. 

Tip: if you think that the construction of the Palazzo Reale is simple and what you see is what you get, think again! Given the refined nature of the Savoy family and the habits of the aristocracy of the time, it was unacceptable for the staff to be seen going about their ordinary domestic duties, particularly in the presence of guests. For this reason, Palazzo Reale was furnished with stairs, corridors, narrow passages and even rooms that were hidden from the eyes of the court, where the servants could stay out of sight or keep crockery, cutlery and cleaning products. The Royal Savoy residence has so many secret rooms that it could almost be described as “a palace within a palace”.