Top Historic Sights in Milan, Italy

Explore the historic highlights of Milan

Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) is the third largest church in the world and it took nearly six centuries to complete. History Saint Ambrose built a new basilica on this site at the beginning of the 5th century, with an adjoining basilica added in 836. When fire damaged both buildings in 1075, they were rebuilt as the Duomo. In 1386, Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo began construction of the cathedral. In 1389, a ...
Founded: 1386 | Location: Milan, Italy

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Italy"s oldest active shopping mall and a major landmark of Milan. Housed within a four-story double arcade in the center of town, the Galleria is named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was designed in 1861 and built by architect Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877. The structure consists of two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting ...
Founded: 1865-1877 | Location: Milan, Italy

Royal Palace of Milan

The Royal Palace of Milan (Palazzo Reale di Milano) was the seat of government of the city for centuries. Today it serves as a cultural centre and home to expositions and exhibitions. Originally designed with a structure of two courtyards, the palace was then partially demolished to make room for the Duomo. The palace is located to the right of the facade of the cathedral opposite the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. T ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Milan, Italy

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Extensively rebuilt by Luca Beltrami in 1891–1905, it now houses several of the city"s museums and art collections. History The original construction was ordered by local lord ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Milan, Italy

Gallerie di Piazza Scala

The Gallerie di Piazza Scala is a modern and contemporary museum in Milan. Located in Piazza della Scala in the Palazzo Brentani and the Palazzo Anguissola, it hosts 195 artworks from the collections of Fondazione Cariplo with a strong representation of nineteenth century Lombard painters and sculptors, including Antonio Canova and Umberto Boccioni. A new section was opened in the Palazzo della Banca Commerci ...
Founded: 2011 | Location: Milan, Italy

La Scala

La Scala (official name Teatro alla Scala) in Milan is one of the most famous opera houses in the world. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778. Most of Italy"s greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world, have appeared at La Scala. The theatre is regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and is home to the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala T ...
Founded: 1778 | Location: Milan, Italy

San Carlo al Corso

San Carlo al Corso is a neo-classic church in the center of Milan. The church is managed by the Servite Order. The church facade was designed in 1844 by Carlo Amati and was finished in 1847. It then served as a model for the Chiesa Rotonda in San Bernardino, Switzerland, 1867. The complex was built to replace Convent of the Servite founded as early as 1290 and later was suppressed in 1799. The new church was buil ...
Founded: 1844 | Location: Milan, Italy

Pinacoteca di Brera

The Pinacoteca di Brera is the main public gallery for paintings in Milan. It contains one of the foremost collections of Italian paintings. The convent on the site passed to the Jesuits (1572), then underwent a radical rebuilding by Francesco Maria Richini (1627–28). When the Jesuits were disbanded in 1773, the palazzo remained the seat of the astronomical Observatory and the Braidense National Library foun ...
Founded: 1776 | Location: Milan, Italy

Basilica of San Lorenzo

The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore was originally built in Roman times and is one of the oldest churches in Milan. The basilica was built between the late fourth and early fifth centuries. The exact date is uncertain, as are the name of who commissioned it and the circumstances of its foundation. What is certain is that at the time of its construction the basilica was the largest, centrally planned building in the Wes ...
Founded: c. 364 AD | Location: Milan, Italy

Colonne di San Lorenzo

The Colonne di San Lorenzo or Columns of San Lorenzo is a group of ancient Roman ruins, located in front of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in central Milan. The colonnade, consisting mainly of 16 tall Corinthian columns in a row, now fronts an open square. In the 4th century, the columns were moved here, after removal from a likely 2nd century pagan temple or public bath house structure. South of the columns, on ...
Founded: 300-400 AD | Location: Milan, Italy

Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio

One of the most ancient churches in Milan, Basilica of Sant"Ambrogio was built by St. Ambrose in 379–386, in an area where numerous martyrs of the Roman persecutions had been buried. The first name of the church was in fact Basilica Martyrum. In the centuries after its construction, the edifice underwent several restorations and partial reconstructions, assuming the current appearance in the 12th Century, when ...
Founded: c. 1080 AD | Location: Milan, Italy

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Santa Maria delle grazie ('Holy Mary of Grace') is a church and Dominican convent in Milan, included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list. The church contains the mural of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, which is in the refectory of the convent. The refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan forms an integral part of this architectural complex, begun in 1463 and reworke ...
Founded: 1463 | Location: Milan, Italy

Porta Sempione

Porta Sempione is a city gate of Milan. The gate is marked by a landmark triumphal arch called Arco della Pace ('Arch of Peace'), dating back to the 19th century, although its origins can be traced back to a gate of the Roman walls of Milan. A gate that roughly corresponds to modern Porta Sempione was already part of Roman walls of Milan. At the time, the gate was meant to control an important road lea ...
Founded: 1807-1838 | Location: Milan, Italy

Biblioteca Ambrosiana

The Biblioteca Ambrosiana is a historic library in Milan, also housing the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the Ambrosian art gallery. Named after Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, it was founded in 1609 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, whose agents scoured Western Europe and even Greece and Syria for books and manuscripts. Some major acquisitions of complete libraries were the manuscripts of the Benedictine monastery ...
Founded: 1609 | Location: Milan, Italy

Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio

The Basilica of Sant"Eustorgio was for centuries an important stop for pilgrims on their journey to Rome or to the Holy Land, because it was said to contain the tomb of the Biblical Magi or Three Kings. Probably founded in the 4th century, its name refers to Eustorgius I, the bishop of Milan to whom is attributed the translation of the supposed relics of the Magi to the city from Constantinople in 34 ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Milan, Italy

San Vittore al Corpo

The church and monastery of San Vittore al Corpo was built by the Olivetan order in the early 16th century. The site once had a 4th-century basilica and mausoleum that once held the burials of the emperors Gratian and Valentinian III. The basilica was enlarged in the 8th century to house the relics of the saints Vittore and Satiro. A Benedictine monastery soon was attached to the church. In 1507, the monastery was ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Milan, Italy

Emperor's Palace Ruins

The Emperor"s Palace in Milan was founded in about 291 AD by emperor Diocletian. Here Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. Residential and ambassadorial sectors, private baths and the circus, where the Emperor appeared solemnly to his subjects, and victory in chariot races became symbolic of Imperial victories, took up an entire sector of the city. The only visible traces of this vast ...
Founded: c. 291 AD | Location: Milan, Italy

San Marco Church

According to tradition, the church was dedicated to St. Mark, patron of Venice, after the help given by that city in the war against Frederick Barbarossa in the 12th century. However, the first mention of the church dates from 1254 when the Augustinians built a Gothic style edifice with a nave and two aisles re-using pre-existing constructions. The structure was heavily modified in the Baroque style during the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Milan, Italy

Castello Cova

Castello Cova was built between 1910 and 1915 on a design by architect Adolfo Coppedè (brother of the more famous Gino Coppedè), it is an example of Gothic Revival architecture, with guelph-style merlons decorating the external rusticated walls as well as the middle-ages styled tower. The tower of Castello Cova was reportedly an inspiration for the architects of the Velasca Tower, a landmark skyscraper in the cent ...
Founded: 1910-1915 | Location: Milan, Italy

Cimitero Monumentale di Milano

The Cimitero Monumentale is one of the two largest cemeteries in Milan, the other one being the Cimitero Maggiore. It is noted for the abundance of artistic tombs and monuments. Designed by the architect Carlo Maciachini (1818–1899), it was planned to consolidate a number of small cemeteries that used to be scattered around the city into a single location. Officially opened in 1866, it has since then been filled ...
Founded: 1866 | Location: Milan, Italy

Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore

Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore was established in the 5th century. Originally dedicated to both Saint Zechariah and Saint Stephen, it was later dedicated to Saint Stephen only. Throughout its history, has undergone several reconstructions, expansion and restoration. The original church building was built around the year 417 on the initiative of the future bishop Martinianus. It was destroyed by fire in 1070 and i ...
Founded: 1075 | Location: Milan, Italy

Santa Maria della Passione

Santa Maria della Passione was initially built in 1496 for the Order of Canons Lateran. The church plan as we see today was based on initial designs of Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, but realized as a centralized greek cross design by Giovanni Battagio. The architect Cristoforo Lombardo designed the large dome to replace the prior crumbling structure. By the late 16th century, under the design of Martino Bassi, the nave ...
Founded: 1496 | Location: Milan, Italy

San Nazaro in Brolo

San Nazaro in Brolo church was built by St. Ambrose starting from 382 on the road that connected Milan (then Mediolanum) to Rome. It was originally dedicated to the Apostles, and thus known as Basilica Apostolorum. As explained by an inscription in the church written by Ambrose himself, the church"s plan was on the Greek Cross with apses on the arms, a feature present only in the Church of the Holy Apostles i ...
Founded: 382 AD | Location: Milan, Italy

Basilica di San Calimero

The Basilica di San Calimero is a church in Milan, northern Italy. Its name refers to Saint Calimerius (died 190 AD), an early bishop of the city. It dates from the 5th century but was almost completely rebuilt in 1882 by the architect Angelo Colla in an attempt to restore it to the 'original' medieval structure. What remains of the ancient church include: the 16th century crypt, with a noble frescoed ...
Founded: 1882 | Location: Milan, Italy

Basilica of San Simpliciano

The Basilica of San Simpliciano is the second oldest church in the form of a Latin cross, first erected by Saint Ambrose. It is dedicated to Saint Simplician, bishop of Milan. The site of the present church was occupied in the 3rd century AD by a pagan cemetery. There St. Ambrose began the construction of the Basilica Virginum ('Basilica of the Virgins'), which was finished by his successor Simplicianus ...
Founded: 3th century AD | Location: Milan, Italy

Milan amphitheatre

The Milan amphitheatre was built near the Porta Ticinese in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD when Mediolanum grew as economical and political importance while Rome declined. It remained in use until the city was one of the capitals of the Western Roman Empire (4th or 5th centuries). Later it was abandoned after Christianity imposed an end to arena games, but also as, in the wake of the imperial crisis, animals to be used in the ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Milan, Italy

Sant'Angelo

Sant"Angelo was constructed in the mid-16th century by the Spanish general and Governor Milan Ferrante Gonzaga, over an edifice already existing in 1418, in replacement of the eponymous one, which had been destroyed to build the new walls. The design was by Domenico Giunti. The small bell tower was added in 1607, while the façade was finished only in 1630, in late-Mannerist or early-Baroque style. The church is ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Milan, Italy

Garegnano Charterhouse

Garegnano Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery located on the outskirts of Milan. It now houses a community of Capuchin Friars. The monastery, dedicated to Saint Ambrose but also known as Our Lady of the Lamb of God, was founded in 1349 by Giovanni Visconti, bishop and lord of Milan. It was then located some 4 kilometers from the walls of Milan. In the 14th century it housed, among others, the poet Petr ...
Founded: 1349 | Location: Milan, Italy

San Vincenzo in Prato

San Vincenzo in Prato is the only church in Milan which has entirely maintained its original Palaeo-Christian appearance. The first church was founded by the Lombard king Desiderius in 770, who dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. Later it was entitled to St. Vincent, when the latter"s relics were found in an urn in the crypt, together with those of St. Quirinus and St. Nicomedes (859) and St. Abundius. The ...
Founded: 770 AD | Location: Milan, Italy

Mirasole Abbey

Mirasole Abbey was founded as a monastery of the Humiliati in the first half of the 13th century. Its economy was based on the working of wool and the production of woollen cloth. The Humiliati were abolished in 1571, and the abbey became the property of the Collegio Elvetico in Milan, which was taken over for the use of the Austrian administration in 1786 (the building is now the Palazzo del Senato); its spiritual lif ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Milan, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kerameikos

Kerameikos was the potters" quarter of the city, from which the English word 'ceramic' is derived, and was also the site of an important cemetery and numerous funerary sculptures erected along the road out of the city towards Eleusis.

The earliest tombs at the Kerameikos date from the Early Bronze Age (2700-2000 BC), and the cemetery appears to have continuously expanded from the sub-Mycenaean period (1100-1000 BC). In the Geometric (1000-700 BC) and Archaic periods (700-480 BC) the number of tombs increased; they were arranged inside tumuli or marked by funerary monuments. The cemetery was used incessantly from the Hellenistic period until the Early Christian period (338 BC until approximately the sixth century AD).

The most important Athenian vases come from the tombs of the Kerameikos. Among them is the famous “Dipylon Oinochoe”, which bears the earliest inscription written in the Greek alphabet (second half of the eighth century BC). The site"s small museum houses the finds from the Kerameikos excavations.