Majestic and fairytale-like, the Reggia di Venaria is the must-see attraction if you are visiting Turin. Here are some tips to enjoy it
If Turin is your next destination, get ready to experience royalty! Baroque palaces, stained-glass galleries and endless arcades, all the result of the Savoy family's plan to turn a small village into a city worthy of a king.
In fact, between the 16th and 18th centuries, Turin became the capital of the Kingdom of Savoy and the royals began to build their residences inside and outside the city walls to show off their magnificence. Of these residences, the most sumptuous is certainly the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale, and we at Visit Italy have collected useful information and tips to make your visit unique.
The Royal Palace of Venaria Reale: the Savoy masterpiece on the doorstep of Turin
As we have said, the regal atmosphere that envelops the city of Turin goes beyond its borders: at the behest of the House of Savoy, which moved its court to the Piedmontese capital in the 16th century, numerous palaces were built that still surround the city today and form what is known as the 'Crown of Delights'. The system of the Savoy Residences, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997, has the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale as its jewel.
The palace is part of a unique complex of Baroque architecture, the Venaria Reale, built from 1658 onwards to house the court for hunting: this includes the Old Town built around the main palace, entirely pedestrianised, the royal palace, the gardens and the estate forest, where the royals practised their hunting activities. Let's discover together this jewel on the outskirts of Turin.
Taking a step back in time to the Turin of the Savoy dynasty is easy with the Torino + Piemonte Card: in addition to free access to the Venaria Reale complex, the Card allows you to visit the other marvellous palaces in the historic centre and all the city's main museums.
The palace: construction, decay and restoration
Built in the mid-17th century, the Reggia di Venaria complex was transformed from a hunting lodge to a true royal palace, and became the main theatre of the political power and artistic magnificence of the House of Savoy. Thanks to visionary architects such as Filippo Juvarra, the palace was enriched with spaces that gave the complex a refined royalty: construction began on the immense Scuderia Grande, which could house up to two hundred horses, the Citroniera, destined for the preservation of fruit plants during the winter months, and the Royal Court Chapel (later called St Hubert's).
But Juvarra achieved his masterpiece with the majestic Galleria Grande, in which light is the absolute protagonist; in its 80-metre length, it filters through the windows on both sides and the open oculi on the impost of the vault and animates the stucco decorations in a beautiful play of light and shadow.
Its vast spaces were converted into military barracks in the 19th century, only to be gradually abandoned to decay and stripped of its furnishings. After the UNESCO nomination at the end of the 1990s, massive and pioneering restoration work began, which returned the Reggia to the public in 2007.
Painting, sculpture and the Baroque spirit now intersect in an articulated tour between ancient and contemporary art, enriched every year by important international exhibitions of ancient and modern art.
Gardens of the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale
A masterpiece of architecture and landscape, the gardens took shape along with the construction of the buildings, becoming a large 'French-style' park of about 125 hectares with embroidered parterres, avenues, ponds, groves, pergolas and a large labyrinth.
Visitable on foot, by carriage or with the little train La Freccia di Diana, the gardens of the royal palace now form a close union between ancient and modern, between archaeological settlements and contemporary works. They consist of the Lower Park with the Garden of Fluid Sculptures by Giuseppe Penone and the Potager Royal, and the Upper Park with the Flower Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Grand Parterre Juvarriano.
The Old Town
The Old Town center is the result of a complex and impressive urban planning operation carried out in such a way that it would be a unicum together with the royal palace, the gardens and the park, and that would introduce, step by step, the splendour of the residence, the atmosphere and the coup de théâtre.
The three parts of the Venaria Reale complex - civil, natural and royal - are united by the central axis, today Via Andrea Mensa, which runs through the village, enters the Galleria Grande and exits into the central axis of the gardens.
Even for the construction of the old town nothing was left to chance: the design of the plan, in fact, reproduces the Collare dell'Annunziata, the highest honour of the House of Savoy.
Info and opening times to organise your visit to Venaria Reale Royal Palace
The Venaria Reale is open every day except Mondays, with opening hours from 9.30 am to 5 pm on weekdays and until 6.30 pm on the weekend. During holidays, opening hours may be extended, so we recommend you take a look at the website before planning your visit.
Being a complex made up of several attractions, the Venaria Reale offers the opportunity to purchase different tickets: the All in a Palace ticket allows you to visit the Gardens, the Palace and the beautiful exhibitions taking place within its spaces. Admission is free for children under the age of 6 and Torino + Piemonte Card holders, while it is reduced for children under the age of 21 and students under the age of 26 - remember to bring your ID.
How to get to Venaria Reale
Venaria Reale is only a few kilometres from the centre of Turin, and the best way to get there is by public transport.
Taking bus 11 or 72 from the centre of Turin will take you to the Borgo Antico, from which the entrance to the Reggia is a 15-minute walk away, while the Venaria Express shuttle bus will take you directly to the palace entrance.
For a more complete experience, however, we recommend the City Sightseen Hop-on Hop-off Bus, which not only accompanies you with an audio guide during the journey, but also allows you to skip the line to enter the Palace, the Juvarra Stables, and the Gardens. You can also use your ticket to visit Turin and its most important attractions.
The city of the Savoy awaits you!