Last week’s postcard had a black and white photograph of the Royal Gardens of Turin. This week’s card shows the Turin cityscape with the Mole Antonelliana prominent on the right side. My friend who lives in Italy sent the cards when he was visiting Torino last November.
The photograph on this card, like the one last week, is also attributed to Piero Ottaviano and is a POPCARD publication. It has a small number on the reverse at the lower right corner: ob15.
The Mole Antonelliana takes its name from the architect, Alessandro Antonelli, and is a major landmark in Turin. A “mole” means it is a building of monumental proportions. The building took approximately 26 years to complete, between 1863 and 1889. Antonelli died before completion and did not get to see the finished building. It was originally conceived as a synagogue but now houses the National Museum of Cinema. It was renovated in 1953. Including the dome and spire the structure stands 550 feet or 167.5 meters tall and was once was believed to be the tallest building in the world. It appears on the obverse of the Italian 2 cent euro coin.
Cost overruns due to continuing modifications by Antonelli finally caused a break in 1876 with the Jewish community that had started with an estimate of 280,000 lire and had already spent 692,000 lire and the building was not yet finished. The people of Turin who had watched the building rising to a great height demanded that the city take over the project. An offer of property by the city resulted in a new synagogue quickly being built and the city completing the building.
Originally Antonelli had wanted a five-pointed star on the top of the spire but later changed the design to a winged genie, one of the symbols of the House of Savoy. The genie holds a lance in one hand and a palm branch in the other. On his head is a small five-pointed star. The Mole Antonelliana is the tallest building with no steel girder reinforcements in the world.
The winged genie collapsed during the storm in 1904 and was replaced by a 5-pointed copper star. A smaller three-dimensional, 12-pointed star later replaced the copper star.
During a tornado in 1953 the upper 47 meters or 154 feet of the pinnacle was destroyed. In 1961 a metal replacement structure faced with stone replaced the storm-damaged section.
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