Turin, or Torino, is a city of fantastic museums. Imagine, the Museo Egizio is the second largest Egyptian museum of antiquities after the one in Cairo! The first museum in Collegio dei Nobili was opened to the public in 1832 to display the antiquities in the Drovetti collection, purchased by King Carlo Felice. If you are interested in ancient cultures, you’ll want to visit the current and much larger museum at least once.
The museum’s big remodel for the 2006 Olympics has the visitor descend into the underworld to the ticket office, then sped upon moving staircases to the top of the museum, where the journey into the Egyptian past begins.
Museo Egizio: What Might Astound You
You might expect to see Sphinxes and the tombs of the wealthy and powerful. Museums are full of that sort of thing, and the Museo Egizio does not disappoint.
But what of the working folks, the bread makers and such? And how did those responsible for getting these humongous statues across continents? Well, that’s all here as well.
Let’s start with the very tall statue of Sethy II you’ll see in the museum. Unlike the Romans, who made huge columns from “drums” made to be assembled on site, Egyptian statues are monolithic, meaning that each one is carved from a single block of stone. Sethy II, portrayed on the right, is a mere 6 tons of rock. Here’s what the annotation says about the thing in English.
“Discovered by Jean Rifaud, sculptor in the service of Mr Drovetti at Thebes, 1818. Brought from Egypt to Leghorn by the ship Trondheim, Cap. Richelieu”
At the stone quarries, statues were probably only rough-hewn. They were then transported to the Nile to be shipped, sometimes after having crossed remarkable distances in the desert. The Egyptians dragged these colossi on rolling logs or sleds, wetting the ground ahead of them. According to surviving documents, they did not use draught animals for the purpose, only human muscle. The statues then traveled by ship. They were probably finished on the spot once they had reached their final destination, as transportation could have damaged a finished sculpture. Even in modern times, the transportation of these giants required the organization of expensive missions. In 1819, a whole ship was required just to bring the colossal statue of Sethy II from Alexandria in Egypt to Leghorn. It waited there for five years, before being finally shipped to Genoa. From there, it was carried to Turin through the Apennine mountain range on an artillery carriage drawn by sixteen horses, since nothing else could have borne such a weight.
As far as the “little” people go, the workers who make it all happen behind the scenes, Here is a representation of how bread was make in ancient Egypt:
And, of course, there’s the grand finale. The last floor you’ll visit before the exit is quite the spectacle. I won’t spoil it for you. Just go.
Where to Stay When Visiting the Egyptian Museum of Turin
If you want to be right in the center of the area that’s loaded with palaces and museums, you’d pick a place between the main train station, Stazione Porta Nuova and the Egyptian museum. We stayed exactly there, in a highly rated vacation rental called La Casa Degli Angeli run by a couple of hosts who actually care that you have a good time in Turin and in their apartment.
Museo Egizio Tickets & Tours
In mid October, we walked up and bought our tickets on site. There was no line. If you wish to get tickets in advance, you can do it easily (and in English) on the Museo Egizio web site. You can combine your ticket with a tour on the site as well. Your ticket is good for a certain date and time.
On the site you’ll also discover that the Museum is also open every day: “The Museo Egizio is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. On Monday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.”
There is a small discount for folks “of a certain age” or over. That age is 70.
Turin in General
Here are a couple of things you might need for more exploration of Turin, Italy.