Milan – city for business and leisure

Milan is famous for its busy business life. But millions of tourists come every year to visit Milan for its culture and rich history as well – you will find magnificent monuments, churches and cathedrals there.

This article will convince you why Milan is a must-see city for art and history lovers. 

Duomo  

Duomo is without doubt the most representative building of the capital of Lombardy, a bit like the Eiffel Tower is for Paris. It is located in the square of Duomo, 11,700 square meters, two steps away from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Its majesty has allowed Duomo to get in the top-five list of the most impressive basilicas in Europe.

Duomo is listed fourth, after the church of San Pietro in Vatican, Saint Paul in London and the Cathedral of Seville. The first works for the construction of this veritable jewel in terms of religious architecture, started at the end of XIV century. The basic structure has the typical features of gothic architecture, even though, when we talk about Duomo of Milan, it is difficult to determine only one architectural style there. The external appearance is made of white marble, there are many spires and pinnacles that dominate the sky of Milan as there are about 3400 statues built on the outside walls and within this basilica dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente. 

Duomo is under continuous and long restorations, as it is true that it is very difficult to see the Basilica without at least one facade in reconstruction.

A walk around the cathedral allows you to appreciate the infinite number of sculptures, gargoyles, spires and arcs. On the highest point of the Cathedral rises the Madonnina – the Golden symbol of Milan and so beloved by the Milanese. According to tradition, the Madonnina must always be on the highest point of the city. A long time ago, the Cathedral with its 108.5 meters complied with this rule, but in 1960 with the construction of Pirelli skyscraper, the rule was violated. That is why a miniature of Madonnina was positioned on the roof of the skyscraper. In 2010 a second miniature was placed on the roof of the second headquarter in the Region of Lombardy, the Pirellone-Bis, with 35 floors and 161 meters high. By tradition the statue must dominate the sky of Milan. 

The Museum of Duomo, with its twenty rooms, traces the history of this extraordinary and magnificient cathedral of Milan. The materials give you information about the phases of its construction, the projects, the sculptures, the stained glass and the sacred furnishings.

The Museum of the Cathedral was inaugurated in 1953, but the idea of its construction had already been born at the end of 19th century, trying not to loose the material describing the construction and the history of the Cathédral. The idea was also incited by the desire that the Duomo of Milan had its own museum as other large cathedrals.

The Museum exhibited about two hundred pieces, including works of statues, tapestries, jetties, graphic material, paintings, wooden models, stained glass, and a section dedicated to the historical and musical archives, accessible only to scientists.

Because of the degradation of many works of art caused by air pollution and the availability of other material, the Museum was later expanded with the addition of ten more rooms, some of which have great architectural prestige. The Museum was completely redesigned and reorganized in strictly chronological historical order. 

Castle Sforzesco and Park Sempione 

Located in Piazza Castello, in the heart of Milan, Sforzesco Castle with its park is the green lung of the city center. Its name is connected to the Sforza family, the duchy of Milan in XV century. The middle tower bears the name of the sculptor who in 1452 undertook the construction of the tower itself. Over the years the castle has been repeatedly targeted and demolished in the wars between French, Milanese and Germanic troops. However, the backbone of the castle has never been damaged and the various renovations have allowed to keep it in excellent condition. Inside, you can visit various museums or get lost admiring its large gardens. Outside of the castle the view of the square is completed by a beautiful fountain, always functioning. 

The Park Sempione extends throughout its whole length on the back of the Castle – a perfect meeting point in the summer for young people and ideal for afternoons walks. 

The Arc of Peace 

Continuing along the Sempione Park you encounter the Arch of Peace, located in piazza Sempione. Its construction was commissioned by the Municipality of Milan and by Napoleon in 1807 as a symbol of the continuing victories. The Arc was completed in 1838. As a result of the fall of Napoleon the Arc began to symbolize peace in Europe. 

The monument is made of marble from Creole and reaches a height of 25 meters and a width of 24 meters. The Arc, neoclassical in style, with corinthian columns and structures in bronze, symbolizes peace thanks to the bronze statue that overlooks it, with six horses leading a wagon driven by Peace. The structure reminds of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. 

Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele 

The gallerie is one of the luxury shopping centers for the inhabitants of Milan. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is a covered walkway that joins the Duomo to La Scala in a style typical for the architecture of the second half of nineteenth century. Within this gallery, a true gem at architectural level, there are many shops and famous cafes, in addition to the octagon, the real center of the attraction. This is the central octagon of the gallery – the coats of arms of four cities that over the years have been the capital of the Kingdom of Italy (Milan, Turin, Florence and Rome) are made on its floor. All of them convey with the coat of arms of the House of Savoy. Depictions of the allegories of the four continents arise at the sides.

The Gallery is currently rich in shops, where, while shopping, you can stop for a cup of good coffee in one of the bars. 

La Scala theater  

The Opera House in Milan is a temple of the opera lyric, as well as one of the most famous theaters at international level. Located a few steps from Duomo (with which it is connected, thanks to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele) it is one of the places of art and culture par excellence in Milan, because it hosts the most prestigious opera, ballet and classical music concerts.

 

Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and “The Last Supper” 

A few steps from the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio is this other jewel of the religious architecture – the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, situated in the square with the same name. The magnificient church is a must-see point in your tour. “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci, the work most ambiguous and most studied in the art history is located in the refectory of the Dominican convent. The church and “The last supper” were considered assets protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

During the Second World War, the church and the convent were hit by bombs. The refectory was razed to the ground. Few walls remained miraculously untouched, among which the one with the Last Supper. Despite the terrible devastation, thanks to the initiative and the spirit of Milanese, the church was able to return to its former splendour offering to the world  the precious works of art kept there. 

Pinacoteca of Brera

It is the most important art gallery in Milan and it is therefore essential in your tour. The gallery of Brera today houses treasures of art, such as the works of artists of the caliber of Caravaggio, Raphael, Bramante, Modigliani, Picasso, Tiziano, just to name a few. In addition to the exibition, a visit to the gardens located inside the palace is highly recommended. 

Pirellone (Pirelli)

The first headquarter in the Lombardy region is also one of the first skyscrapers in Milan. The building rises for over 120 meters and its top is a great place to admire the city from. It is located just accross the Central Station. 

Central Station 

Another building that is worth a visit is Milano Centrale railway station. It is an impressive structure with sections in art nouveau style, and others in Art-Deco. It was recently restored. Its majesty leaves amazed travelers going through for the first time. 

Basilica Santa Maria of Passion 

The sixteenth century Basilica of Santa Maria of the Passion is one of the most beautiful and greatest churches in Milan and it is the second building in size after Duomo.

The interior of the church is an authentic art gallery and is one of the churches most renowned for its rare paintings, which are kept there. The central octagon, surmounted by the sixteenth century dome of Lombardino, is the heart of the basilica. Since 1500 a center of intense musical activity, between the XVI and XVII century here two organs were built – one in front of the other. The Basilica is the only church in Lombardy to have two  connected instruments.

The devotion to the music of this beautiful basilica (with various concerts that take place here) you will notice as soon as you enter. A sweet and beautiful background music accompanies you throughout the duration of your visit. 

Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio 

The basilica is one of the oldest churches in Milan and the second in importance after Duomo. The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio was built by the Bishop of Milan in the area in which the Christians were killed during the roman persecution. Its origin dates back to the 379-386 and since then the church has remained almost unchanged. One of the main things to see inside of the church is the golden altar and the wooden door, existing since its building. The Basilica of St. Ambrogio is located in the square, a few steps from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. 

We can’t talk about Milan without mentioning fashion. Milan has always been synonymous of fashion. A visit to Milan should always include a tour of one of the high fashion boutiques, or the stylish shops on the center streets of the city. Without doubt renowned are the main streets of luxury, via Montenapoleone and via della Spiga that host the most famous italian and international brands.

The most important fashion shows on international level are held in Milan each year. It is not unusual to see models shopping or simply enjoying walking on the streets of Milan. Montenapoleone street is the heart of fashion and it is considered one of the fifteen most luxurious and expensive streets in the world. 

Full with much more art galleries, palaces, basilicas and churches Milan is a magic combination between past and modern time. It is definitely worth including it in your tour.


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