Visiting the Royal Palace of Venaria in Turin
If you have chosen Turin as your next weekend destination, we recommend visiting one of the city’s most beautiful attractions: the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale.
This stunning building is not only one of the largest and most important residences of the Savoy family, but one of the most beautiful in all of Europe. During my stay in Turin I chose to visit the Palace of Venaria Reale before everything else. Driven by curiosity after seeing hundreds of photos online, I wanted to see it with my own eyes.
I woke up early in the beautiful Junior Suites of the DUPARC Contemporary Suites, had a tasty breakfast and off I went to explore one of Italy’s greatest jewels and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
Visiting the Palace of Venaria Reale in Turin: history
The Palace of Venaria Reale was a residence of the Savoy family, one of the most important royal families in Europe. It was commissioned in 1658 by Duke Carlo Emanuele II, a great hunting enthusiast, and its construction was entrusted to the architect Amedeo di Castellamonte, who drew inspiration from the magnificent Palace of Versailles. Initially built for the family’s hunting expeditions in an area rich in woods and game, this residence soon became one of the most important for the royal family.
It boasts a floor surface of 80,000 square meters and 50 hectares of gardens! And that’s not all. Citizens wishing to live close to the royal residence starting building in the surrounding area, leading to the birth of the autonomous municipality of Venaria Reale, which today counts more than 30,000 inhabitants and was declared a city by Vittorio Emanuele III in 1937.
In the 1700s, the palace was extended by the architect Filippo Juvarra, one of the greatest exponents of the Baroque style, at the behest of Vittorio Amedeo II, the Duke's son. Juvarra built one of the residence’s best known symbols: the Great Gallery. But not only that. He also designed the Church of Sant'Uberto and the Scuderie Regie, or Royal Stables, which today host numerous exhibitions. In the 1800s, during Napoleon’s rule, the complex was transformed into barracks and most of the gardens were destroyed to build a military training ground. An almost exclusive military use of the residence gradually led to its decline. Ransacked and abandoned, in 1978 it was sold to the Italian National Trust which handled its restoration. It was reopened to the public in 2007, after being restored to its former glory.
Visiting the Palace of Venaria Reale in Turin: the Great Gallery, one of the residence’s best known symbols builded by Juvarra one of the greatest exponents of the Baroque style.
What to see at the Palace of Venaria Reale: the floors, the Great Gallery and the gardens
Before visiting the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale, just a 30 minute drive away from the DUPARC Contemporary Suites, I suggest taking a stroll in the village and admiring its streets brimming with bars and restaurants. You will arrive in Piazza della Repubblica, where, through the Torre dell'Orologio (Clock Tower), you will enter the Corte d'Onore (Court of Honour) overlooked by the beautiful Church of Sant'Uberto. Here you can admire the Fontana del Cervo (Fountain of the Stag), its extraordinary water jets (sadly, currently suspended) reaching a height of 12 metres. Continue your tour on the ground floor, where you can visit several faithfully renovated rooms brimming with tapestries, works of art and period furniture.
Visiting the Palace of Venaria Reale in Turin: by entering in the Court of Honor you can admire the amazing Fountain of the Stag.
The royal apartments, located on the first floor, are richly decorated with antiques, period furniture and 17th century paintings by great masters of the calibre of Guido Reni and Van Dyck. Everything inside these rooms conveys a sense of beauty and lets you imagine what court life must have been like. Moreover, the windows afford magnificent views of the beautiful gardens. It is here, on the first floor, that you will find the famous Great Gallery of outstanding beauty. Standing 80 metres long, 15 metres high to the centre of the vaulted ceiling, and 12 metres wide, this is a really impressive and richly decorated gallery. The stuccoes, the black and white flooring (the original floor was dismantled under Napoleon and rebuilt to the original plans in 1995), the 44 windows and the 22 openings along the vaulted ceiling, which flood the gallery with natural light, will be sure to leave you open mouthed.
Visiting the Palace of Venaria Reale in Turin: discover the royal apartments decorated with objects, antique furniture and seventeenth-century paintings.
Next, I suggest you take the time to visit the Royal Stables, housing some of the carriages used by the Savoy family in the 1700s and the Bucintoro, a perfectly restored boat once used by the Doges of Venice. Another sight not to be missed at the Royal Palace of Venaria are the stunning Royal Gardens, split into an Upper Park (Parco Alto) and a Lower Park (Parco Basso), both renovated in line with the original plans. Particularly worthy of note are the Boschetti (Small Woods), the Giardino delle Rose (Rose Garden), the remains of the Fontana dell'Ercole (Fountain of Hercules), the remains of the Tempio di Diana (Temple of Diana) and the Peschiera (Fish Pond). Visiting these gardens in spring or summer, with the flowering plants bursting with colour, must be a wonderful experience.
Visiting the Palace of Venaria Reale in Turin: do not miss the Royal Gardens
Buying tickets for the Palace of Venaria Reale
If you are planning to visit the Palace of Venaria Reale, we recommend buying your tickets online from the official website and choosing the date and time of your visit. Tickets include an audio guide in Italian and allow you to skip the queue at the entrance. Alternatively, you can go directly to the ticket office close to the entrance to the Court of Honour (given the pandemic, however, the website recommends booking your tickets in advance). You currently need a Green Pass to access the site.
You can choose between different types of tickets, including cumulative ones that offer you the chance to visit other Royal Residences, like the Castle of La Mandria. The basic ticket costs €14.00 for adults and €10.00 for under 21s, and allows you to visit the Palace, the Stables and the gardens. If time is short, I recommend you buy this ticket given that it takes at least a couple of hours complete the tour.
Opening hours and how to reach the Royal Palace of Venaria
The Palace is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, from 09:30 to 17:00. On Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, it opens from 09:30 to 18:30.
Situated just 10 km from the centre of Turin and 15 km from the Duparc Contemporary Suites, the Palace of Venaria can be reached by car (you can leave your car in one of the two free car parks near the residence) or by bus, taking the dedicated GTT Venaria Express line from Porta Susa Station.
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I hope this article helps you plan and enjoy your visit to this beautiful residence, which is certainly well worth seeing!
WRITTEN BY: Viola, Wonderlustviola