Gran Madre di Dio

Turin, Italy

The church of Gran Madre di Dio is a Neoclassic-style church located on the western bank of the Po River, facing the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I leading into Piazza Vittorio Veneto.

The church was conceived in 1814, after the defeat of Napoleon, to celebrate the return to the throne of King Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia from the Savoia family, after a 16 years long exile. The municipality immediately suggests to celebrate this return with the building of a monument. The necessity to plan out the spaces, which were recently employed by the fortification and the idea to build a votive temple, have to be seen as a unitary project. Actually, the church has to be the ending to the lengthy vista, which links the Castello Square to the hill. Together with the planning of this Church, a square for the latter also needs to be implanted in the project, which would be a sort of lengthening of the already existing Vittorio Square on the other side of the river. The architect was Ferdinando Bonsignore, whose project was chosen following a competition. Construction began in 1818, only to pause for nearly a decade, and restart in 1827, under the rule of Charles Felix of Sardinia. The church was inaugurated in 1831 under Charles Albert of Sardinia.

Others who contributed to the construction were Giuseppe Formento and the engineer Virginio Bordino. The latter helped raise the columns on the façade. The architect Luigi Canina was consulted during construction. Flanking the entrance staircase, atop two high plinths, are two statues representing Faith (with calyx) and Religion by Carlo Chelli. The tympanum of the church states: ORDO POPVLVSQVE TAVRINVS OB ADVENTVM REGIS, which can be translated as: The Nobility and the Population of Turin for the Return of the King. The church architecture recalls the Pantheon in Rome.The link between the political event with the religious one comes through thanks to the classical metaphors to talk about the religious episodes with a back and forth between religious and political personalities. In front of the church is a statue of a King Vittorio Emanuele I, walking forward, holding a staff in his right arm, the base reads Vittorio Emanuele I/ Re di Sardegna/ Restituito a su Pepolo/il XX Maggio MDCCCXIV/ Ne Coronara/ la Fedeltà secolare.



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Founded: 1814
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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User Reviews

Antonio T. (14 months ago)
By foot during the night walking till the building give you the best view of Turin.
Anouar Razzouk (2 years ago)
From the outside, la gran madre overlooks piazza Vittorio, behind the hills climb up to villa della regina. On the left of the gran madre façade -viewer there is la Monte dei cappuccini. The whole ensemble is wonderful, and one of the best sights that Turin offers. The church architecture's is unique. It's like a pagan temple, or Rome's pantheon. When you get inside it's smaller than what you think, and much auster in comparison with lavish leitmotifs and barocco style Turin's catholique churches outthrow at the visitor.
Ted Oatway (2 years ago)
The the interior is not why you would visit this church but the view from the top of the stairs is wonderful.
Georges Younes (2 years ago)
Chiesa Parrocchiale della Gran Madre di Dio might not break many architectural conventions - it tries hard to look like the Pantheon in Rome - but it occupies a privileged position on the right bank of the Po river. From its elevated platform, it has great perspectives on parts of the historical center of Turin.
E Chueog (2 years ago)
Very beautiful and interesting Church. We didn't find the sanitizing gel at the entrance, even if it was needed when having to put some coins as offers for "lighting up" a plastic candle with the button. There was even kind of a well but you couldn't see what's inside or reach it underneath. There was a lift with the lateral entrance, helpful for wheelchairs, and there also some posters with information about the Church.
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