San Lorenzo Church

Turin, Italy

San Lorenzo, also known as the Royal Church of Saint Lawrence, is a Baroque-style church in Turin, adjacent to the Royal Palace of Turin. The present church was designed and built by Guarino Guarini during 1668-1687.

Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, was one of the leaders of the Habsburg armies of his cousin Philip II of Spain; they decisively defeated the French armies in the Battle of Saint-Quentin in Northern France on 10 August 1557, the Feast of St. Lawrence (San Lorenzo), which affected the outcome of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis; in which, the Savoy, including Turin, was returned to the rule of the mercenary duke. That the Battle occurred on the Saint's feast instigated Phillip's denomination and design of the palace of El Escorial. Emmanuel Philibert, on his return to Turin in 1562, renovated the old ducal chapel of Santa Maria ad Presepae, which is still present near the entrance, and erected this church dedicated to St. Lawrence. Construction of the contemporary church began in 1634.

The architect Guarino Guarini was a great innovator in Baroque principles first developed by the great Roman Baroque architect Francesco Borromini, in particular the play with optical effects and organic 'deconstruction' of the classical orders and principles of column and entablature. However, in San Lorenzo Guarini took these further. The ground plan is a kind of square which becomes an octagon at the level of the entablatures above the columns only to change again to become a Greek cross at the level of the pendentives of the vaults. Again, the base of the dome is circular in plan yet the lantern above it octagonal. The dome itself is supported by eight ribs forming a lattice similar to those found in mosques and Romanesque churches in Spain. To this superposition of - by the standards of convention - contradictory central plans is added an elliptical choir. The high altar, separated from the nave by a convex and concave archway receives natural light from a hidden dome, devices drawn from the other key Roman Baroque architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

The dome

Eight intersecting arches support the dome forming an eight-pointed star that resembles characteristics of mosques, with smaller windows adorning the areas between the arches. On the top, the lantern is surrounded by an octagonal shape.

The combination of these geometrical features and the reflection of light creates shapes that resemble faces, with the bottom window as the mouth, the smaller opening above comprising the nose, and the two upper windows as the eyes. Due to the position and shape of the eyes and mouth, these features have been called the “face of the devil” (faccia del diavolo).

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Details

Founded: 1668-1687
Category: Religious sites in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nzyoki Mulovi (10 months ago)
One of the most awe inspiring buildings I have been to. So much history is worked into the architecture and exquisite decor. The design allows natural light into the building all day and the acoustics are simply heavenly.
Ivan Muracciole (Maind Framend) (3 years ago)
San Lorenzo, also known as the Royal Church of Saint Lawrence (Italian: Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo), is a Baroque-style church in Turin, adjacent to the Royal Palace of Turin. The present church was designed and built by Guarino Guarini during 1668–1687. Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, was one of the leaders of the Habsburg armies of his cousin Philip II of Spain; they decisively defeated the French armies in the Battle of Saint-Quentin in Northern France on 10 August 1557, the Feast of St. Lawrence (San Lorenzo), which affected the outcome of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis; in which, the Savoy, including Turin, was returned to the rule of the mercenary duke. That the Battle occurred on the Saint's feast instigated Phillip's denomination and design of the palace of El Escorial. Emmanuel Philibert, on his return to Turin in 1562, renovated the old ducal chapel of Santa Maria ad Presepae, which is still present near the entrance, and erected this church dedicated to St. Lawrence. Construction of the contemporary church began in 1634.[1] The architect Guarino Guarini was a great innovator in Baroque principles first developed by the great Roman Baroque architect Francesco Borromini, in particular the play with optical effects and organic "deconstruction" of the classical orders and principles of column and entablature. However, in San Lorenzo Guarini took these further.[2] The ground plan is a kind of square which becomes an octagon at the level of the entablatures above the columns only to change again to become a Greek cross at the level of the pendentives of the vaults. Again, the base of the dome is circular in plan yet the lantern above it octagonal. The dome itself is supported by eight ribs forming a lattice similar to those found in mosques and Romanesque churches in Spain. To this superposition of - by the standards of convention - contradictory central plans is added an elliptical choir. The high altar, separated from the nave by a convex and concave archway receives natural light from a hidden dome, devices drawn from the other key Roman Baroque architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini.[1]
DAVID SNYDER (4 years ago)
Extraordinarily beautiful architecture (the dome in particular) with some exquisite works of art on the altars inside this church.
Chang-Hoon Nam (4 years ago)
I felt a perfect peace there that I did not usually have. The natural light that exists in the octagonal structure with perfect symmetry gives the impression that I couldn't taste anywhere else. I recommend you to visit this place if you visit Turin.
Hamish Pringle (4 years ago)
We only found this hidden gem because our bike tour guide pointed out the small blue door in the corner of the square. Apparently the original entrance would have upstaged the palace so the Emperor stopped it from being built. Judging from the interior he was right! We visited several churches during our visit and this was the prettiest. Small in scale and with a stunning ceiling. Our guide said that once a year on the summer equinox light penetrates alcoves to reveal frescoes - you’d need to research this as I haven’t!
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