Biblioteca Ambrosiana

Milan, Italy

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 of Bobbio (1606) and the library of the Paduan Vincenzo Pinelli, whose more than 800 manuscripts filled 70 cases when they were sent to Milan and included the famous Iliad, the Ilia Picta.

Among the 30,000 manuscripts, which range from Greek and Latin to Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopian, Turkish and Persian, is the Muratorian fragment, of ca 170 A.D., the earliest example of a Biblical canon and an original copy of De divina proportione by Luca Pacioli. Among Christian and Islamic Arabic manuscripts are treatises on medicine, a unique 11th-century diwan of poets, and the oldest copy of the Kitab Sibawahaihi.

Artwork at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana includes da Vinci's Portrait of a Musician, Caravaggio's Basket of Fruit, and Raphael's cartoon of The School of Athens.



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Piazza Pio XI 2, Milan, Italy
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Founded: 1609


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ashley Bedwell (13 months ago)
The library houses original pages from Leonardo da Vinci's codex and has them on display there. Very neat to see them in person. This portion of the exhibit is in English and Italian. There is also a nice room and exhibit housing the pre-planning sketches for one of Raphael's paintings at the Vatican. A video explains the process involved in using the scaled drawings to create the final painting.
Fernando Medina (15 months ago)
Good museum and beautiful library
Annalisa (16 months ago)
An amazing place both for the architecture of the courtyard and for amazing paintings of Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli etc. and all this only couple of steps from the cathedral. The majority of the art is medieval. This is one of my favorite places in Milan. A real gem. Plan an hour to visit, it’s worth it!
Lee Green (2 years ago)
Really cool museum with a lot of beautiful architecture in addition to great artwork. This is definitely worth a visit if you're in the area, and I thought it was more interesting (also much less crowded) than the Duomo.
Matt Corey (2 years ago)
Loved this place. One of my favorite museums. I really like how they have the lights dimmed and then put little spot lights on the pieces. I think this really brings the works to life. Also to see Raphael's cartoon put together is worth the price of admission alone. The leonardo codices are very interesting as well.
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