While in Northern Italy a few years ago, I have also visited Milan (Milano in Italian). I have been there before, but this time I was able to see more of the Milan Cathedral.
About Milan – General Info.
Milan, the capital of Italian province Lombardy, is one of the biggest and richest Italian cities and it fact also the second richest city in the European Union, following Paris. The population of Milan is 1,369,000 and including Metropolitan area it is more than 4 millions. This European city is not only famous for its monuments, particularly magnificent Milan Cathedral and The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, but as a center of art, especially opera, and it’s also leading in fashion, commerce, education and tourism attracting about 9 millions visitors per year.
Milan’s climate is humid, subtropical or temperate oceanic and similar to most of the Northern Italy’s inland plains, with hot, humid summers and cold, foggy winters. Despite this fact, it seems there is less rain than in many other European cities because the nearby Alps and Apennines mountains form a natural barrier protecting the city from bad weather coming from the North and the sea. During the winter temperatures can fall below Zero (0 °C -32 °F) and snow is possible.
Sforza Castle ( Castello Sforzesco).
We have started our visit by passing through the gates leading to the Sforza Castle area (in Italian Castello Sforzesco). The castle was build in 15th century by Francesco Sforza, who was a duke of Milan and it stands on the remains of the 14th century fortifications. It was enlarged and renovated in 16th and 17th centuries and at that time it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. It went through further renovations around the end of 19th and at the beginning of 20th century under the direction of and Italian architect Luca Beltrami. Presently the castle hosts several city’s museums and art collections.
La Scala Opera (Teatro alla Scala).
We have continued our tour passing by the famous La Scala Opera (Teatro alla Scala) and visiting adjacent to it La Scala Museum. La Scala is classic style building erected between 1776 and 1778. It was renovated in 1907, with a current layout and the total of almost 2,000 seats. The building was severely damaged during the World War II because of heavy bombing in 1943. Fortunately La Scala was rebuilt and it reopened in May 1946,
Many of the greatest opera artists and other famous singers have performed in this classic style building during the last 200 years. La Scala is not only one of the most famous opera theaters, but also many of the best ballets in the world have appeared there. The building is hosting La Scala Theater Chorus, La Scala Theater Ballet and La Scala Theater Orchestra and attached to it Museo Teatrale alla Scala.
Leonardo da Vinci in Milan.
We were passing by Piazza della Scala admiring a monumental sculpture of Leonardo da Vinci.
As I have mentioned, Leonardo has created in Milan one of his most famous paintings – The Last Supper It was painted between 1495–1496 and commissioned by Leonardo’s patron – Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, for the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie. The painting depicts the last meal of Jesus Christ with his apostles in the moment when he said: “One of you will betray me”. The consternation his words have caused is well visible in the gestures and facial expressions of his companions, as you can see in the image of this painting below.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
While walking towards the Milan Cathedral, we have passed through the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Its glass dome and cast iron roof covers the street connecting Piazza della Scala with Piazza del Duomo, where the Milan Cathedral is located. It is beautifully designed and hosting many elegant stores, bars, restaurants and cafés.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a great architectural achievements of its time. It was one of the first shopping malls and the biggest of the kind when it was build. It was designed in 1861 and constructed under the direction of Italian architect Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877.
Under the top of the dome there are some beautiful large scale paintings. On the ground under the central octagonal dome, there are four mosaics depicting the coat of arms of the three capital cities of the Kingdom of Italy (Turin, Florence and Rome), as well as Milan’s. The mall was pretty crowed when I was there. It is very popular meeting place not only for local people, but also admired by many tourists and a great passage way between two major important Milan’s landmarks.
The Milan Cathedral.
Finally we have arrived at the Piazza del Duomo and were able to see the magnificent Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano).
This Gothic style cathedral is really an amazing work of art with was build over almost 600 years under the direction of various architects. The construction of the church started in 1386 and it was finally considered completed in 1965, when it was officially inaugurated on January 6th. However the work on the cathedral is not really done since even now there are some unfinished details to be completed, and in the meantime the church needs some repairs. When I was there about 4 years ago, I have seen some construction going on the roof.
This cathedral is dedicated to St. Mary of the Nativity (Santa Maria Nascente). It is the largest church in Italy, even larger than the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and it is the fifth largest in the world.
I am very impressed with the design of this cathedral. It is amazing that despite the fact that it was build over almost 6 centuries and under the direction of so many architects and following a variety of designs, the cathedral looks quite uniform and harmonious. I was also amazed to see so many elaborate details, especially those constructed at so great height. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to create so many works of art and other architectural details working on such huge size building. It is great that it is possible to even go onto the roof of this church to admire artistic details and to see a wonderful view of the city.
Finally it was time to leave and I descended from the cathedral to the Piazza del Duomo.
Is Milan Worth Visiting and How to Get There.
Milan is certainly worth visiting and easily reached by a variety of public transportation, or just driving on major highways. It is one of the most important European transport nodes and it has five major railway stations, including Milan Central Station, which is one of the busiest railway stations in Italy. Since 2009 there are also two high speed trains lines between Milan, Rome Naples and Turin, allowing considerably shortening the travel time between these cities.
Milan has 3 international airports, with the main Malpensa International Airport, the second busiest airport in Italy. It’s located 45 km (28 mi) from central Milan, but it connects to the city by the “Malpensa Express” railway service. With the rapid transportation system in Milan consisting of the network of underground trains, buses and streetcars, it is very easy to move around the city by public transportation.
Please allow enough time to visit Milan since there are so many interesting things to see. Just exploring the view of the cathedral will take you at least a few hours, especially if you would like to go onto the roof. You need to buy a ticket and there could be big lineups, especially if you will go there during the summer.
What I wish there would be more of in Milan are benches where one can just sit and relax. I think there should be many of them along the streets and on squares, particularly those with attract so many tourist each year. Right now it seems very hard to find a place one can just comfortably sit down, unless you go inside a church or into some bars or restaurants.
The Copyright Info and Following this Blog.
This article and all photographs in this blog post are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk, unless otherwise noted. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me. I will be adding some of the pictures from this article and many more images from Italy to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and seeing my photographs from this beautiful part of of Italy. I will be posting more articles soon, so please remember to subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.
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