Turin was founded by the pre-Roman Taurini. The most important Roman town of the W Po valley, Turin was later a Lombard duchy and then a Frankish county. In spite of the claims of the house of Savoy, it remained a free commune in the 12th and 13th cent. It passed c.1280 to the house of Savoy (see Savoy, house of). Occupied (1536–62) by the French, it was restored to the dukes of Savoy and became their capital. From 1720 to 1861 it was the capital of the kingdom of Sardinia. During the War of the Spanish Succession it suffered a long siege, which ended with the victory of Eugene of Savoy over the French. In 1798, Charles Emmanuel IV of Savoy was obliged by the French to abdicate and to abandon Turin, but Victor Emmanuel I returned in 1814, and the city became the center of Italian national aspirations. From 1861 to 1865 it was the capital of the new Italian kingdom.
Because of its industrial importance, Turin suffered heavy damage in World War II; most of the important buildings that remain date from the 17th–19th cent. Of note are the Palace of the Marquesses of Caraglio e Senantes (17th cent.); the Palazzo Madama (begun late 13th cent.); the baroque Venaria Reale, a restored (2008) 17th-century royal summer palace, which houses a fine collection of arms and armor; the Academy of Science, which contains the rich Egyptian Museum; and the Car Museum.
The Cathedral of San Giovanni (late 15th cent.) has a casket that contains the famous
Shroud of Turin, in which some believe Jesus was wrapped after death. Carbon-14 dating (1988) suggested that it is a medieval forgery, but the testing may have been done on a sample from a repaired area. Analysis of pollen grains and plant images on the shroud (1999) indicated a date prior to the 8th cent., and other tests have suggested the shroud is pre-Medieval. Research published in 2009, comparing a shroud known to date from Jerusalem in the early 1st cent. AD, noted that the Turin shroud had a more complex weave and consisted of a single piece of cloth instead of separate pieces for the head and body.
On a hill overlooking the city is the basilica of Superga (1717–31), containing the tombs of many of the dukes of Savoy and kings of Sardinia. Turin has a university and a well-known polytechnic institute (1859).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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