POLO REALE, ROYAL ARMORY

Audio File length: 2.48
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

As you can imagine, tradition dictated that royal families collected arms as a way to emphasize their strength and power. But for the Savoys who were brave warriors and expert hunters, weapons were a passion. For this reason, together with the Armory of Madrid and the Imperial Armory of Vienna, the Royal Armory in Turin is one of the richest in the world.

The Armory was inaugurated in 1837 by Charles Albert shortly after the creation of the Sabauda Gallery; it began with a nucleus of weapons from the Museum of Antiquities and the arsenals of Turin and Genoa. It was then enlarged with new purchases that came from both personal collections of the kings of Italy and acquisitions and donations.

The Armory is currently an integral part of the Polo Reale and is located in the gallery that connects the Royal Palace with the State Secretariats, where a Prefecture is today located. Its atmosphere is fascinating. After you go up the eighteenth-century staircase, you'll enter a room that was once the court theater and was then transformed into the Rotunda Hall in the 1800s. From here you can walk to the beautiful Beaumont Gallery, a vast eighteenth-century hall designed by the great architect Filippo Juvarra (the same as the Scala della Forbice) and decorated with colorful and lively scenes connected to the legendary figure of Aeneas.

The collection is immense: it passes from side arms, some even dating back to the Neolithic period, to armor from various centuries up to the 19th century, and of course firearms. I'd especially like to point out the thirteenth-century sword of Saint Maurice, the refined Renaissance pieces from the Milan-based armorer Pompeo della Chiesa, the gigantic armor of Diego Felipe de Guzmán (over two meters tall), and the set of hunting weapons made in Germany in the 1600s. The row of Italian and German armor from the 1500s is really impressive, don't you think?

You'll also see oriental and exotic weapons, memorabilia from the Napoleonic age including a sword that belonged to Bonaparte himself, and of course the arms of the Savoy kings.

Another part of the Royal Armory is the so-called Medagliere: a room designed by the court architect to preserve Charles Albert's collection of coins, medals, and seals.

 

FUN FACT: some of the collection's most original pieces are the wooden horses covered with real horse skin: the most famous is Favorito, which was Charles Albert's favorite. The king was so fond of it that when he had to go into exile in Portugal in the mid-1800s, he wanted the horse to be transferred with him.

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