Porta Sempione

Milan, Italy

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 leading to what is now Castelseprio. Very little remains of the original Roman structure; some Roman tombstones that used to be placed by the outer side of the walls have been employed in the construction of later buildings such as the Basilica of Saint Simplician.

In the Middle Ages, part of the Roman walls in the Porta Sempione area were adapted as part of the new walls. The gate itself was moved north, in a place that is now occupied by the Sforza Castle. The Castle itself was completed in the 15th Century, under Duke Filippo Maria Visconti, and the gate itself became part of the Castle.

In 1807, under the Napoleonic rule, the Arch of Peace was built by architect Luigi Cagnola. This new gate marked the place where the new Strada del Sempione entered Milan. This road, which is still in use today, connects Milan to Paris through the Simplon Pass crossing the Alps. At the time, the gate was still called 'Porta Giovia'. When the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy fell and Milan was conquered by the Austrian Empire, the gate was not yet completed, and the construction was abandoned for a while.

The construction of the Arch was resumed, again by Cagnola, in 1826, for Emperor Francis II, who dedicated the monument to the 1815 Congress of Vienna. When Cagnola died in 1833, his project was taken over by Francesco Londonio and Francesco Peverelli, who brought it to completion in 1838.

The gate was the scene of several prominent events in the Milanese history of the 19th century. On 22 March 1848, the Austrian army led by marshal Josef Radetzky escaped from Milan through Porta Giovia after being defeated in the Five Days of Milan rebellion. On 8 June 1859, four days after the Battle of Magenta, Napoleon III and Victor Emmanuel II of Italy triumphally entered Milan through the gate.

Architecture

Porta Sempione is neoclassical triumphal arch, 25 m high and 24 m wide, decorated with a number of bas-reliefs, statues, and corinthian columns. Many of such decorations, especially bas-reliefs, are dedicated to major events in the history of Italy and Europe, such as the Battle of Leipzig, the foundation of the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, the Congress of Vienna. Other decorations have classical mythology subjects such as Mars, Ceres, Minerva, Apollo, and Victoria-Nike. There are also a group of statues that are allegories of major rivers in North Italy such as the Po, the Adigeand the Ticino. At the sides of the Arch of Peace there are two minor rectangular buildings that used to be the customs office.

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Address

Piazza Sempione 31, Milan, Italy
See all sites in Milan

Details

Founded: 1807-1838
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Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Panayiotis Georgiou (6 months ago)
Superb monument Highly photogenic. A large park separates the Arco from the Castello. On a beautiful day, both can be visited within a few hours. Eminently walkable, and safe. Good to see This place can be named as the best entrance of the part. If you took one of the other options to see this area this is the best to see at the end in order to absolutely amazed by it. The atmosphere The vibes The majesty that this place can infuse in your soul, make it one of my favorite spot in Milan
Crusoe Whu (6 months ago)
Very nice and spacious place for leisure time. There is a glorious place to look back at history and meet friends for the future. There are sometimes artists on the square and street-practice their songs and performances. I like it.
Andrea Muiesan (6 months ago)
Pretty cool place during the day. There isn't any sort of museum dedicated to the monument or any sign telling its history. It's very popular during Saturday nights because it's easily accessible by public transportation and offers many bars and a broad area. People and police have reported several robberies during the night, making it unsafe, especially if you're by yourself.
Frank Valenziano (6 months ago)
One of the coolest plazas in Italy. The arch is nice but the real treat is how alive the surroundings are. Great place to relax and have lunch!
Cristian (6 months ago)
The arch is one of my favorite monuments in Milan. During the summer is full of people that just hang out there, have a drink and something to eat. The atmosphere is nice.
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