What it is and where it is
The Basilica of Superga, extraordinary Baroque architecture by Sicilian abbot Filippo Juvarra (1678-1736), is striking in its imposing size. With its 75-meter-high dome, and built on the hill of the same name at 660 meters above sea level, it is a building undoubtedly designed to be visible from afar, symbolizing the wealth and strength of the ruling family, the Savoy family. The church was built at the behest of Victor Amadeus II of Savoy and dedicated to the Virgin Mary in thanksgiving for the victory over the French and the liberation of Turin from the siege of 1706.
Why it is special
Juvarra in this early work created a majestic religious building with rich interior and exterior decoration, without forgetting the references to the classical Greco-Roman tradition. The church's isolation, its placing itself at the center of the gaze, gives it a unique and unquestionable charm. The underground crypt, then, houses the Royal Tombs of the House of Savoy. But the main reason that prompts Turinese to climb the hill of Superga at any hour of the day or night is certainly the extraordinary view from the churchyard over the city. And, for those who want to climb even higher, there is a spiral staircase with 131 steps, which leads to the outer balcony of the dome.
Not to be missed
The most fun and original way to climb the hill of Superga, where the basilica of the same name is located, is certainly the use of the Sassi-Superga cogwheel tramway, more simply known as the "Cremagliera." The small trains consist of engines made in 1934 and original carriages from 1884. A real dip into the past. Between the Sassi departure station, at the foot of the hill, and the Superga arrival station, there is a difference in height of 425 meters, for a distance of about 3 km that can be covered in 20 minutes.
A bit of history
The basilica of Superga was the scene of a dramatic event that dates back to May 4, 1949. That day Turin was unusually shrouded in a thick blanket of fog and the small aircraft that brought the Torino football team back to Italy ended up crashing into the wall of the rear embankment of the basilica. In the tragic impact 31died. The whole team, the staff and the pilots. Those were the years of the Grande Torino, winner of five consecutive championships, with almost all the players called up for the national team. That year Torino won the championship by forfeit In the four remaning games at the end of the championship, all the other teams lined up their youth teams.
The Basilica of Superga was the Piedmontese debut work of Filippo Juvarra, who was then active for many years in Turin as architect to the House of Savoy, with a style that mixed late Baroque and Neoclassical tastes. He changed the face of the city: think of the facades of the twin churches in Piazza San Carlo, the Villa della Regina, the neighborhoods to the west of the city literally rebuilt, and the facade of Palazzo Madama.
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