The Castle of Moncalieri, also known as the "Royal Castle", is one of the Savoia residences in Piedmont inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997, in what is known as the "Crown of Delights", intended for leisure and hunting. The castle is therefore part of a unique cultural, historical, architectural and environmental circuit that can be visited and is of exceptional universal value.
The royal castle, located in the upper part of the town of Moncalieri, is a historical testimony and document of the various construction phases that have changed its appearance over the years.
Its construction dates back to a period of defensive necessity due to its dominant position on the hill.
In fact, since medieval times, there was a stronghold where the people of Testona found refuge when their homes were devastated due to the struggles between Asti and Chieri. Year after year, the building was supplemented by various elements thanks to the numerous successors who lived there. This transition is already evident from the façade, which rises imperiously between the two quadrangular Baroque towers at the centre of which are two round medieval towers.
At first, Tommaso III of Savoia, known as Tommasino, had a tower and an embattled gate built. A few centuries later, Jolanda of Valois ordered the construction of four round towers, which were then incorporated in subsequent reconstructions. However, due to stormy periods such as the struggles between Charles V of Spain and François I of France, the castle suffered a lot of damage.
For this reason, it was only after the peace of Cateau Cambresis in 1559, with the accession of the first Madame Royal, that the old fortress took on the form of a royal residence, whose park was enriched with hundreds of trees.
Thanks to its new appearance and sumptuously furnished rooms, the castle became the venue for sumptuous celebrations. Since then the embellishment work has been continuous and the castle has been embellished with masterpieces of art and precious furniture.
Prominent figures such as the architects Castellamonte, Benedetto Alfieri and Francesco Martinez determined the expansion of the surrounding residential structure with prestigious buildings that were adapted over the years to the needs of the moment; so much so that, during the French domination in 1798, the castle spaces were used as a hospital and prison.
Thanks to the start of extensive renovations, the castle once again became a nerve centre for the nobility and was thus returned to Savoia ownership. In modern times, a number of hierarchical and Nazi representatives chose the building as their headquarters.
In Fascist times it became the seat of hierarchical representatives and then of the Nazis; it was finally used as a refuge for homeless people.
Following the major world wars, and in particular from 1948 onwards, the castle was used as the headquarters of the 1st Battalion "Piemonte" of the Carabinieri, which is still there today, alongside the permanent exhibition in homage to the Principality. The exhibition, "Life at the Castle. Defence, leisure, politics and garrison", in which a large part of the furnishings of the period are on display, aims to raise interest in Moncalieri Castle as a royal residence and UNESCO heritage site.
Moreover, in 1991, the royal flats were restored and opened to the public.
However, a new round of restoration marked the castle in 2008, when a fire made the structure unfit for use and forced it to close. Once the restoration of the rooms was completed, it has been possible to visit the Savoia residence again since 2017.
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