Top historic sites in 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

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

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

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 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Church of the Savior on Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.

In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.