BASILICA OF SUPERGA
Turin 1706. The city is invaded by the Franco-Spanish army of Louis XIV and the Piedmontese militias, together with the Austrian allied troops, are in difficulty. Duke Vittorio Amedeo II and Prince Eugene of Savoy-Soisson, who lead the local army, climb the Superga hill to observe the battlefield from above.
In a small church on the hill, in front of the statue of the Madonna delle Grazie, the Duke makes a vow: if he had won, he would have had a large church built in that same place in honor of the Virgin. After a hard battle, the enemy army is defeated and the city freed. Vittorio Amedeo II is faithful to his commitment, entrusting the construction of the Sanctuary to the court architect, Filippo Juvarra. To build the complex, the pre-existing church will be demolished and the hill lowered by forty meters.
The first stone of the Sanctuary was laid in 1717, while the inauguration took place fourteen years later, in 1731.
The baroque complex is 75 meters high, 51 meters long and is 672 meters above sea level. Its interior is enriched by six chapels and four altars, in addition to the High Altar, with statues and monuments in Carrara marble. Of particular interest are the numerous altar paintings and the dome, inspired by the Roman works of Francesco Borromini. In the Chapel of the Vow, inside the Basilica, there is the wooden statue of the Madonna delle Grazie from the seventeenth century, the same one that Vittorio Amedeo II turned to to win the battle.
From 1965 to 2021 the cult of the Basilica was managed by the Order of the Servants of Mary. From 2 August 2021 the management of the Basilica has been entrusted to the SERMIG Fraternity of Hope, which takes care of the celebrations and lives in the complex.
THE ROYAL TOMBS
The crypt, containing the Royal Tombs of the House of Savoy, was built in the basement of the Basilica of Superga at the behest of King Vittorio Amedeo III, but the desire to have a mausoleum for the deceased of the Savoy was already in the mind of his grandfather, Vittorio Amedeo II. The project, entrusted to the architect Francesco Martinez in 1774, grandson of Filippo Juvarra, was completed in 1778.
The plan of the Crypt has an elongated Latin cross and houses 62 tombs of the House of Savoy.
THE CLOISTER and THE HALL OF THE POPES
Designed by Juvarra with a double sequence of arches, the Cloister is characterized by an Italian garden, decorated with box hedges that create a maze pattern. At the center of the garden is the well, enriched by a canopy in the shape of a Chinese pagoda.
Having become an art gallery in 1876, the Sala dei Papi was originally the summer refectory for the 12 Fathers of the Royal Congregation of Superga, established by Vittorio Amedeo II. The Fathers were responsible for the idea of collecting the images of the Popes, an idea inspired by the mosaic collection in the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura in Rome. The room is made up of 265 paintings portraying the canonically elected Popes: on the main wall, in the lower center, is the portrait of the current Pope, Francis.
The route continues with a visit to the Royal Tombs. A marble staircase leads to the corridor of the mausoleum.
At the end of the staircase, as a guardian in defense of the tombs, is the Carrara marble sculpture of the Archangel Michael in the act of defeating the devil.
After the staircase, along the short corridor, you enter the Crypt.
THE REAL APARTMENT
The Royal Apartment was part of the original project commissioned by Vittorio Amedeo II, who wanted a real place to retire in the last years of his life. The project involved the construction of an entire three-storey building, next to the existing convent.
The sovereign decides to commission the works to Filippo Juvarra, who, however, will not be able to complete them.
Set aside the project for another residence, some rooms on the first floor of the Convent are then used for the Royals as a support residence, to house them during their short visits to Superga.
The King's Hall, located on the lower floor and intended for ceremonies, was also part of the royal rooms.
CLIMB TO THE DOME
The entrance to the Salita alla Cupola is located inside the Basilica of Superga.
A spiral staircase of 131 steps will take you to the external balcony of the dome, from where you can look out and admire the panorama of the city with its valleys and mountains. In particular, on clear days, you will notice some of the main mountains of the Alps, such as Monviso, the Orsiera Group, Rocciamelone, Gran Paradiso, the Apostles Group, the Lavina Tower, and Monte Rosa with the tip Doufour.
Historic Rack Tramway Sassi-Superga: the route runs for 3,100 meters between the Sassi station (located in Turin in Piazza Modena 6 at 225 meters above sea level) and the Superga station (at 650 meters above sea level).
The historic Rack Tramway of the Sassi-Superga Station allows an unusual and fascinating route, which takes the visitor to reach the Basilica of Superga in 20 minutes, from the departure station located at the foot of the hill. Once you arrive at Superga station, a suggestive panoramic point (La Vedetta Panoramica) allows you to enjoy a breathtaking landscape from above and in a 5-minute walk you can reach the Basilica of Superga immersed in the green of the hill.
Speaking of football: on May 4, 1949, behind the Convent of the Basilica of Superga, the plane crashed with the footballers of the Grande Torino team on board.
In memory of them, a commemorative plaque was placed in the rear part of the complex, still today a destination for fans and enthusiasts.