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
See all sites in Milan


Founded: 1609


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Piers Kreps (10 months ago)
Great collection and friendly staff. Don’t miss this in Milan!
Thomas Ozbun (11 months ago)
Founded during the 17th century this is a famous art gallery hosted in the Ambrosian Library, with many paintings by important artists such as Leonardo, Tiziano, Botticelli, Caravaggio etc. Behind it is the Church of San Sepolcro, originally built in the 11th century it has a Neo-Romanesque façade and a Baroque interior.
Heidi Pyper (12 months ago)
This museum is a gem! Very lovely art, impressive Da Vinci notebook pages, very doable size. Admission for us was part of a Last Supper package, but this is worth doing by itself as well. One of our favorite stops in Italy.
Małgorzata Podolak (13 months ago)
Very nice place with a lot of original paintings. You can find there Carrivagio ‘fruit basket’ and Botticelli. The building is historical and very beautiful. In the center there is a garden.
Victor Wang (18 months ago)
This place cannot be missed. One of the jewels in Milan and an absolutely beautiful museum and library. The building itself has an absolutely stunning architecture and the museum is packed with lots of interesting artifacts. Loved all the detailed information available in English as well as Italian. Enjoyed every moment in here and the library at the end of the tour is a sight to behold.
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