The Taurini were an ancient Celto-Ligurian Alpine people, who occupied the upper valley of the Po River, in the center of modern Piedmont.
In 218 BC, they were attacked by Hannibal as he was allied with their long-standing enemies, the Insubres. The Taurini chief town (Taurasia) was captured by Hannibal's forces after a three-day siege. As a people they are rarely mentioned in history. It is believed that a Roman colony was established in 27 BC under the name of Castra Taurinorum and afterwards Julia Augusta Taurinorum (modern Turin). Both Livy and Strabo mention the Taurini's country as including one of the passes of the Alps, which points to a wider use of the name in earlier times.
In the 1st century BC (probably 28 BC), the Romans created a military camp (Castra Taurinorum), later dedicated to Augustus (Augusta Taurinorum). The typical Roman street grid can still be seen in the modern city, especially in the neighborhood known as the Quadrilatero Romano (Roman Quadrilateral). Via Garibaldi traces the exact path of the Roman city's decumanus which began at the Porta Decumani, later incorporated into the Castello or Palazzo Madama. The Porta Palatina, on the north side of the current city centre, is still preserved in a park near the Cathedral. Remains of the Roman-period theater are preserved in the area of the Manica Nuova. Turin reached about 5,000 inhabitants at the time, all living inside the high city walls.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the town was conquered by the Heruli and the Ostrogoths, recaptured by the Romans, but then conquered again by the Lombards and then the Franks of Charlemagne (773). The Contea di Torino (countship) was founded in the 940s and was held by the Arduinic dynasty until 1050. After the marriage of Adelaide of Susa with Humbert Biancamano's son Otto, the family of the Counts of Savoy gained control. While the title of count was held by the Bishop as count of Turin (1092–1130 and 1136–1191) it was ruled as a prince-bishopric by the Bishops. In 1230–1235 it was a lordship under the Marquess of Montferrat, styled Lord of Turin. At the end of the 13th century, when it was annexed to the Duchy of Savoy, the city already had 20,000 inhabitants. Many of the gardens and palaces were built in the 15th century when the city was redesigned. The University of Turin was also founded during this period.
Turin in the 17th century.
Emmanuel Philibert, also known under the nickname of Iron Head (Testa 'd Fer), made Turin the capital of the Duchy of Savoy in 1563. Piazza Reale (named Piazza San Carlo today) and Via Nuova (current Via Roma) were added along with the first enlargement of the walls, in the first half of the 17th century; in the same period the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace of Turin) was also built. In the second half of that century, a second enlargement of the walls was planned and executed, with the building of the arcaded Via Po, connecting Piazza Castello with the bridge on the Po through the regular street grid.
In 1706, during the Battle of Turin, the French besieged the city for 117 days without conquering it. By the Treaty of Utrecht the Duke of Savoy acquired Sicily, soon traded for Sardinia, and part of the former Duchy of Milan, and was elevated to king; thus Turin became the capital of a European kingdom. The architect Filippo Juvarra began a major redesign of the city; Turin had about 90,000 inhabitants at the time.
Late modern and contemporary
A view of Turin in the late 19th century. In the background, the Mole Antonelliana
Turin, like the rest of Piedmont, was annexed by the French Empire in 1802. The city thus became the seat of the prefecture of Pô department until the fall of Napoleon in 1814, when the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was restored with Turin as its capital. In the following decades, the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia led the struggle towards the unification of Italy. In 1861, Turin became the capital of the newly proclaimed united Kingdom of Italy until 1865, when the capital was moved to Florence, and then to Rome after the 1870 conquest of the Papal States. The 1871 opening of the Fréjus Tunnel made Turin an important communication node between Italy and France. The city in that period had 250,000 inhabitants. Some of the most iconic landmarks of the city, like the Mole Antonelliana, the Egyptian Museum, the Gran Madre di Dio church and Piazza Vittorio Veneto were built in this period. The late 19th century was also a period of rapid industrialization, especially in the automotive sector: in 1899 Fiat was established in the city, followed by Lancia in 1906. The Universal Exposition held in Turin in 1902 is often regarded as the pinnacle of Art Nouveau design, and the city hosted the same event in 1911. By this time, Turin had grown to 430,000 inhabitants.
After World War I, harsh conditions brought a wave of strikes and workers' protests. In 1920 the Lingotto Fiat factory was occupied. The Fascist regime put an end to the social unrest, banning trade unions and jailing socialist leaders, notably Antonio Gramsci. On the other hand, Benito Mussolini largely subsidized the automotive industry, to provide vehicles to the army. Turin was then a target of Allied strategic bombing during World War II, being heavily damaged in its industrial areas by the air raids. The Allied's campaign in Italy started off from the South and slowly moved northwards in the following two years, leaving the northern regions occupied by Germans and collaborationist forces for several years.
Turin was not captured by the Allies until the end of Spring Offensive of 1945. By the time the vanguard of the armoured reconnaissance units of Brazilian Expeditionary Force reached the city, it was already freed by the Italian Partisans, that had begun revolting against the Germans on 25 April 1945. Days later, troops from the US Army's 1st Armored and 92nd Infantry Divisions came to substitute the Brazilians.
In the postwar years, Turin was rapidly rebuilt. The city's automotive industry played a pivotal role in the Italian economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s, attracting hundred of thousands of immigrants to the city, particularly from the rural southern regions of Italy. The number of immigrants was so big that Turin was said to be "the third southern Italian city after Naples and Palermo". The population soon reached 1 million in 1960 and peaked at almost 1.2 million in 1971. The exceptional growth gains of the city gained it the nickname of the Automobile Capital of Italy and the Detroit of Italy (Turin has been "twinned" with Detroit since 1998). In the 1970s and 1980s, the oil and automotive industry crisis severely hit the city, and its population began to sharply decline, losing more than one-fourth of its total in 30 years. The long population decline of the city has begun to reverse itself only in recent years, as the population grew from 865,000 to slightly over 900,000 by the end of the century. In 2006, Turin hosted the Winter Olympic Games.