The Santo Volto church and Dora Park, a rehabilitated industrial wasteland

Built on the site of a former Fiat factory, this 19th-century church is well worth a visit. It was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta and inaugurated in 2006. Some of the industrial buildings, including the forge chimney, have been preserved to give them a spiritual function. Its 35-metre-high towers and brick facades are reminiscent of the factories of yesteryear. Inside, the Santo Volto church is lit by skylights coming from its seven towers. Its impressive vaulted ceiling and rounded wooden furnishings create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The organ, integrated into the structure, appears as a multi-layered wall of pipes. Finally, behind the altar, visible as soon as you enter the church, a magnificent brick mosaic depicts the face of Christ on the Holy Shroud.

Holy Face Church

- © Claudio Divizia / Shutterstock

The history of the church of Santo Volto

Located just north of Turin, the Santo Volto church was built on a former industrial estate that had been left to lie fallow. The area was part of a major renovation plan to host the 2006 Winter Olympics. After more than two years of work, involving around a hundred workers, the church was inaugurated in December 2006.

Main facade of the Santo Volto church

- © Claudio Divizia / Shutterstock

Among the industrial structures preserved by the architect is the forge chimney. This tall white tower has been set with a spiky metal spiral to recall the crown of Christ. This ascending spiral creates a link between heaven and earth.

The forge chimney, seen from below

- © Claudio Divizia / Shutterstock

The architect has succeeded in creating a church that is both contemporary and in keeping with the history of the site. The church's seven 35-metre-high towers have a shape and colour reminiscent of the chimneys of the old factories.

Inside the Santo Volto church

- © Claudio Divizia / Shutterstock

When you enter the church, at the far end, behind the altar, is the face of Christ in mosaic. Santo Volto, Italian for "Holy Face", refers to the Holy Shroud of Turin, the sheet on which Christ's face is said to have appeared after the crucifixion. This relic is kept in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin.

Practical info

Find out about the times of religious services

Before planning a visit to the Santo Volto church, it's a good idea to find out when services are held, to make sure it's open to the public. All the information you need can be found on the parish website

Claudio Divizia / Shutterstock The mosaic of Christ behind the altar in the Santo Volto church

- © Claudio Divizia / Shutterstock

Finally, around the church, to revitalise the neighbourhood and create spaces for social interaction, a large park, Parc Dora, has been laid out, incorporating the remains of the metal industrial structures. For example, benches, trees and a skate park sit harmoniously alongside an old cooling chimney.

Old cooling chimney in Dora Park

- © Marco Saracco / Shutterstock

Practical information

🚌 How do I get to the church?

There are several ways to get to the Santo Volto church: take tram 3 or 9 and stop at the Piero della Francesca stop. Bus 22 also takes you there, stopping at the stop of the same name.

📍 Address: Via Val della Torre, 11, 10149 Torino TO, Italy

⭐ Where to stay near the church of Santo Volto?

Among the accommodation located around the Santo Volto church, the Parc Dora View Apartment is very popular for its proximity to the park, of course, but also for its amenities.

The only drawback is that you need to book in advance, especially during the school holidays, as it is particularly popular with couples with children.


Parco Dora View Apartment

Parc Dora View Apartment is very popular for its proximity to the park, of course, but also for its amenities.

Another option, with a slightly higher budget but including breakfast: the Art Hotel Olympic. This hotel, located 500 metres from the Dora Park and the Santo Volto church, is in the former Olympic Village, which was designed to house the press.

Art Olympic Hotel Turin

Art Olympic Hotel

This hotel is 500 metres from Dora Park and the Santo Volto church.
8.1 Very good
£99 / night

🍴 Where to eat near the Santo Volto church?

Weather permitting, we recommend buying a takeaway and having a picnic in Dora Park. A 9-minute walk away, Pasticceria Orsucci, in Via Borgaro 65, offers quality snacks and pastries to take away.

For those prepared to walk a little further, Birreria Manhattan, a 20-minute walk away, serves popular pizzas and, of course, good craft beers, to be drunk in moderation.

Finally, 13 minutes' walk from the Santo Volto church, we recommend you try the ice creams at Gelateria Lucco, ranked among the best in Turin.

by Jude JONES
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