In Turin’s Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, the faithful and curious from across the globe gather to view the Holy Shroud of Turin (Sacra Sindone), one of most famous and controversial religious relics in Italy. This linen cloth is said to have been laid over Jesus’ body after his crucifixion, though its authenticity remains debated.
The 53-square-foot (5-square-meter) Holy Shroud, displayed in a quiet 17th-century chapel designed by Guarino Guarini, architect of the nearby Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo, bears the faded image of a thin, bearded man who appears to have wounds consistent with Biblical tellings of those suffered by Christ at his execution. Historians and scholars have questioned the antique relic’s authenticity—never officially recognized by the Catholic Church—for years, and the Duomo has gone to great lengths to preserve it. The contentious shroud is one of the highlights of Piedmont’s capital city, and a viewing is included in many Turin small-group walking tours along with the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale), Piazza Castello, and Mole Antonelliana. Because of its age and delicacy, the shroud is stored in a climate-controlled case filled with a special atmospheric mix of argon and oxygen, and is rarely displayed to the public; in its stead, the church shows video footage of the original. The last public showing of the actual Holy Shroud was in 2015.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Showings of the original Holy Shroud are well publicized in advance, and tickets go quickly—book ahead of time.
- The Shroud is particularly fascinating for religious pilgrims or archaeology aficionados.
- The Guarini Chapel is currently closed for restoration, and video footage is being shown in another side chapel of the Cathedral.
- Visitors are allowed to take photographs inside the chapel and Duomo.
How to Get There
The Turin Cathedral, or Duomo di Torino, is located in the Piazza Castello district, a short walk from the train station. It’s easy to arrange a Turin day trip from the nearby city of Milan by taking the high-speed train that runs between these two Italian regional capitals.
When to Get There
The Duomo is most crowded when the original Holy Shroud is being displayed to the public, and tickets to these showings must be booked far in advance. Hours are daily from 7am (Sundays from 8am) to 12:30pm and again from 3pm to 7pm.
The Duomo di Torino
Most visit the Duomo di Torino primarily to view the Holy Shroud, but the church itself is worth a look. Built at the end of the 15th century, the Renaissance Cathedral is attached to the original bell tower from 1469.