Colonne di San Lorenzo

Milan, Italy

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, one of the medieval gates still has some Roman marble decoration in place. In the 16th century, in preparations for a celebratory entrance into Milan of the monarch King Phillip II of Spain, it was proposed to raze the colonnade to widen the route; Ferrante Gonzaga declined the suggestion.

Up until 1935, the space between the church and columns was entirely occupied by old houses abutting onto the façade of the church itself. Indeed, the church complex was fully surrounded by old houses. Despite the plans to conserve this ancient urban fabric, the renovations led to the demolition of the old houses and the isolation of the monument on the front side. Following bombing during World War II, the church complex became isolated also on the rear side, where the fenced Basilicas Park now stands, allowing popular views of the Basilica.

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Details

Founded: 300-400 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Merlin Ranee (23 days ago)
Easy walked through the busy street while window shopped along the way. Stumbled upon a churros stall perfect for a quick bite for some loose change. Nice spot for photos
Leonardo Barzi (27 days ago)
If you are in Milan to have fun with your friends, for a stag/hen do and you like drinking on the cheap (not in chic bars where you can sit on nice chairs, around a nice table, ...), then that's the place for you. At the Squallido bar (inside the arch), you can have Gin Tonics for €4 each and beers from €2.50: that's amazing, especially in the centre of Milan (15m walking from Duomo). Always recommended except in Winter (the weather is too cold for having a drink outside, except if you're Canadian, Russian or Scandinavian :P)
Alexandra Coscovelnita (33 days ago)
Be sure to visit this place at night. You are allowed to drink in the street here. It is usually crowded, especially on summer nights. You can grab a beer from the vendors and enjoy it with your friends.
Dheeraj Divakaran (33 days ago)
The place is quite good in the mornings, but in the evenings become slightly shady. The area has some good bars, but look out for people offering you for things you would not want. A good place to hang out with friends with good connectivity through out the night by trams.
Rick Lemoine (4 months ago)
While visiting Milan l I had a list of sites I wanted to see. This was the last one on my list. I thought I wasn't going to have enough time because I had any early flight. Fortunately, I was able to have more time and get a chance to see it. There were some great areas to shark very nearby as well. Also, there were a few nice restaurants one might have a nice dinner in.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.