Even if you couldn’t pinpoint Turin on a map and aren’t particularly religious, you’ve probably heard of arguably the most famous thing in the city – the Shroud of Turin. This long piece of linen is said to be the cloth which Jesus was buried in, but whether or not you believe that it’s pretty clear when you see pictures of the shroud why others might.
The Turin Shroud, called “La Sindone” (lah SEEN|dohn|eh) in Italian, is a long cloth on which the image of a man can be seen. The Shroud has been revered as a holy object for centuries, and this delicate cloth is actually kept in a climate-controlled container in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin. But if you want to see a replica, you can visit the Museum of the Shroud instead. You can even take pictures and video of the replica on display, as you’ll see in the video at the bottom of this post!
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a believer or not, the history of the Turin Shroud is quite interesting, and the Museum of the Shroud in Turin is well-presented. The cloth’s travels prior to the mid-14th century aren’t known, but from the year 1357 on it’s recorded well. The Shroud has been in Turin since 1578, where it was originally the personal property of the Royal Savoy family. It wasn’t until 1983 that the family gifted the Shroud to the Catholic Church.
Above is the container holding the actual shroud, and below is a photo of the replica in the museum’s chapel
Some of the episodes from the Shroud’s history which are documented in the museum in Turin include the first “negative image” photograph taken in 1898 in which the man’s face and body were even more pronounced, the 1532 fire which damaged the Shroud and the patches applied in an attempt to repair the burned cloth, the carbon dating agreed to by the Vatican in 1988 which seemed to show that the cloth was made more than 1,000 years after Jesus lived, and more recent tests in 2008 which indicate the 1988 tests could be at least 1,000 years off.
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Is the Shroud of Turin an elaborate forgery or is it really the burial cloth of the man we call Jesus? For some people, the answer to this question is incredibly important. For others, the Turin Shroud Museum is simply an interesting attraction when you’re visiting Turin. Either way, the museum will either help you answer the question or simply satisfy your curiosity about a famous piece of cloth.
Visiting the Museum of the Shroud in Turin
Museo della Sindone
via San Domenico 28
Museum of the Shroud official website – note that it’s a bit outdated, as it’s still showing the admission price in Lira!
Museum of the Shroud Open Hours & Admission
Open daily from 08:00-12:00 and 15:00-19:00
Admission €5.50, including an individual audio guide
>> I found the volunteers who run the museum to be unfailingly nice, from the women who sold me my ticket, to the woman who led me through the front building into the chapel to see (and film) the copy of the Shroud, to the man running the explanatory video. I not only chatted with them about their favorite Italian soccer team, I also got a tip on where to go for dessert after visiting the museum. Chat with the locals – it pays off!
As this isn’t the real thing, you’re not only allowed to take photographs (flash, even, if you like) in the museum chapel, you can also take video. Here’s the video I recorded when I visited:
This map shows both the Museum of the Shroud and the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, so you can see where they are in the city.