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 17th century, when it became the largest church in the city after the Duomo di Milano.
In early 1770, the young Mozart resided in the monastery of San Marco for three months and, on May 22, 1874, the first anniversary of the death of the Milanese poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni was commemorated in the church by the first performance of Verdi's Requiem, written in his honour.
The façade dates from an 1871 restoration by Carlo Maciachini, who kept the marble portal with tympanum, a gallery of small arches, the rose window and three statues of saints attributed to Giovanni di Balduccio or the Master of Viboldone. In the lunette is a mosaic representing the Madonna between Saints, a copy of the original by Angelo Inganni.
The campanile dates from the 14th century. It was restored and completed in 1885. The interior, in the Baroque style, has a nave and two aisles.
In the first chapel on the right are frescoes by Gian Paolo Lomazzo. In the right transept is a fresco by the Fiammenghini with Alexander IV Instituting the Order of the Augustinians, under which a 14th-century Crucifixion was discovered in 1956. The author of the latter has been identified by Anovelo da Imbonate. The right arms of the transept houses also several sarcophagi from the mid-14th century, including the tomb of Lanfranco Settalo, counsellor of Archbishop Giovanni Visconti, by Giovanni di Balduccio.
Near the rear exit is a 16th-century tombstone portraying the Angel of the Resurrection, another fresco by the Fiammenghini (under which is a 14th-century fresco). On the side walls of the presbytery are the Dispute of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine by Camillo Procaccini and the Baptism of St. Augustine by Giovanni Battista Crespi.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.