Among the most striking buildings on Turin’s Piazza Castello, Palazzo Madama is half fortified medieval castle and half sumptuous baroque palace. The building now houses the city’s Civic Museum of Ancient Art (Museo Civico di Arte Antica), with a sprawling collection spanning from the Roman era to the 18th century.
A stop at the palazzo is a highlight of private or small-group Turin walking tours and one of the attractions included in the Royal Card pass, along with the Royal Palace and Royal Church of San Lorenzo. From castle to palace to the first seat of the Italian parliament, Palazzo Madama is home to one of the city’s most important museums.
The Civic Museum of Ancient Art has a small Roman collection, continuing through medieval stonework to Renaissance art in the ornate baroque galleries. Explore one of Italy's largest collections of decorative arts, with examples of precious Meissen porcelain, Delftware, and fine embroidered textiles. The highlight of the collection is Antonello da Messina’s glorious 1475 Portrait of a Man. Palazzo Madama also includes a Roman gate and foundations, medieval towers, and a series of Renaissance courtyards and apartments.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Civic Museum of Ancient Art offers lockers to store large bags and backpacks that cannot be brought inside.
- Architecture enthusiasts will be fascinated by the various styles represented in the vast palace, while art aficionados will appreciate the vast and eclectic collection of artworks.
- Photography is allowed inside the museum.
- The palace and museum are fully accessible to wheelchairs.
How to Get There
Palazzo Madama is located on Piazza Castello in the heart of historic Turin, a short walk from the Porta Nuova train station and many of the city’s most famous attractions.
When to Get There
Open every day except Tuesdays, the Civic Museum of Ancient Art offers a break from the summer heat or winter cold at any hour. Palazzo Madama often holds special exhibitions, so check the schedule before visiting.
The History and Architecture of Palazzo Madama
Palazzo Madama has the appearance of two buildings uneasily glued together. It was originally built as a fortified castle by the ruling house of Savoy in the 14th century with a medieval facade looking eastward. The later, ornate baroque addition faces west and was added by architect Filippo Juvarra in the early 18th century at the request of Marie Jeanne of Savoy, for whom the palace is named. Juvarra was appointed court architect by the Savoy dynasty and went on to design many of Turin’s glamorous arcades.