A military arsenal built over since 1983 into a Peace Arsenal by SerMiG (Youth Missionary Service), founded by Ernesto Olivero in 1964: an example of peace, hospitability and solidarity.
The military works in Borgo Dora, dating back to the 16th century, underwent a number of changes and enlargements in the course of time, thus coming to occupy a very wide area.
On April 25th 1945, during the last climax deed of the Liberation fight, the building was occupied by its workers and by partisan squads who kept the Mosca bridge, a crucial passageway, within range of two machine-guns placed on the factory roof.
In the war aftermath, the plant resumed work at an ever shrinking rate until it came to a complete stop. Following negotiations with the Ministry of Defense, its buildings were signed over to the Torino municipality, which in turn assigned them to Sermig – Hope Brotherhood, which settled down there and, through voluntary work by youths and grown-ups alike and public and private donations, began building it over into a Peace Arsenal: a meeting place and a shelter for youths and people needing aid at large.
After going through several interventions, the Arsenal features several buildings spaced out by green areas in between; among them shows up the Dialogue University in the Ovens Pavilion, facing the Peoples’ Square, a place for contemplation and prayer also staging several cultural events of the city. The former test shop has become a guesthouse. The former Saddleries are now a restoration school-shop, a kindergarten and lodgings. The compound offers night lodging to homeless people and a surgery for foreigners having no health card.
The Arsenal overlooks Borgo Dora Square staging the traditional Balôn, a second-hand market, on Saturday mornings, a byplace of the Porta Palazzo (Palace Gate) daily market in nearby Piazza della Repubblica, the largest outdoor marketplace in Europe. Unstably poised between ticklish closenesses and a pied medley of cultures, having grown into the city’s main multi-ethnical melting-pot, Porta Palazzo boasts a really special charm. A multi-color lit-up display by artist M. Pistoletto on the clock market hall shows in several languages its message ‘Loving differences’, as a part of the standing works within the annual contemporary art event Luci d’Artista (Artists’ lights).