Milan is a city in northern Italy, it is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe and fashion capital of the world. There are many amazing things to do in Milan, the city is home to several historical monuments, beautiful churches, and important museums. We did Milan on a road trip to Italy from Geneva, Switzerland. We also visited Venice, Pisa, and Florence on the same trip. Milan can also be visited on easy day trips from Florence. But Milan Cathedral was the highlight of the trip. One of the top places to visit in Italy the magnificent Milan Cathedral draws visitors from all over the world.
Best Things to do in Milan
Milan Cathedral or Duomo di Milano is the cathedral dedicated to the Nativity of St Mary. Milan Cathedral is one of the largest church in the world and the largest in Italy.
The stunning cathedral built in Gothic style took nearly six centuries to complete. The Cathedral’s roof is a spectacle with thousands of pinnacles and spires topped with sculptures. We were super amazed by the St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City but this is awe-inspiring. The roof is said to be adorned with over 3000 statues.
The interior of the cathedral is equally impressive with sculpted marble columns and remarkable artworks. The cathedral interior is said to hold up to 40,000 people at a time that is almost double than the Cologne Cathedral which is one of the top places to visit in Cologne, Germany.
Visitors can climb the cathedral roof terrace and enjoy the beautiful panoramic views of the city of Milan and also have a close look at the elaborate pinnacles and sculptures on the rooftop. To get to the top you can climb the stairs or use the elevator.
Sforza Castle is a 15th-century castle built on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification. The castle features many towers and courtyards. The castle today houses museums and art collections.
You can find some remarkable frescoes and sculptures in the Museum of Ancient Art. The Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco holds a collection of artworks dating from the 13th to 18th centuries. The Museum of Musical Instruments, the Egyptian Museum with antique artifacts, Archaeological Museum of Milan and Applied Arts Collection are also part of the castle. The Antique Furniture and Wooden Sculpture Museum display antiques dating from several periods between 15th and the 20th centuries.
The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio
The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio is one of the oldest churches in Milan. The church dates back to 387. Back then it was known as the Basilica Martyrum due to the location of the church where the martyrs of the Roman persecutions were buried. Not much remains of the Basilica Martyrum as the Basilica was reconstructed in Romanesque style in the 11th century.
The church is a brick structure with a gabled facade dominated by two towers. Two loggias run on either side of the facade from the main entrance to the church entrance. In the interior, the Basilica houses the Stilicho’s Sepulchre, a 4th-century sarcophagus and remains of saints in the Basilica’s crypt.
Piazza Mercanti which translates as Merchants Square is one of the major squares in the city of Milan. It is located between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Cordusio. The square is surrounded by some of the important historical buildings.
The 13th century Palazzo della Ragione serves as the administrative headquarters of the city, the 15th-century Gothic Panigarola House, the 17th century Baroque Palatine Schools and the 16th century Palazzo Dei Giureconsulti are some of the buildings surrounding the square.
The square is also home to numerous monuments. There are reliefs representing Oldrado from Tresseno, dedicated to Ausonius, Augustine of Hippo and Ambrose. There is also a 16th-century pit, surmounted by two 18th century columns at the center of the square.
Pinacoteca di Brere
Pinacoteca di Brere is one of the top art galleries in Milan as well as Italy. Housed in a 16th-century palazzo, the collections consist of Renaissance art with over 500 artworks with works from famous Italian painters.
The palazzo was formerly a church and monastery and has also served as a Jesuit college until Austrian Archduchess Maria Theresa opened the Accademia di Belle Arti in the 1700s. More details here.
Pinacoteca di Brere is less than 10 minutes walk from the Sforza Castle so you can always plan to visit them together.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the major landmarks of the city of Milan. The Galleria is one of the oldest and popular shopping mall in the city of Milan and Italy as well.
The amazing architecture features two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in an octagon topped by a glass dome and a cast iron roof with arched glass. The design is said to be very popular during the 19th-century arcades. It does remind us of the Burlington Arcade in London or the Saint-Hubert Gallery in Brussels.
The Galleria contains several high-end boutiques, shops, restaurants, and Cafes.
The Naviglio Grande is the oldest canal in Milan dating back to the 12th century. During medieval times, it was used to transport materials required for construction of the city’s buildings. It is about 50 kilometers long and is dotted with galleries, cafes, flea markets, shops, and restaurants. Most of the shops occupy the ancient houses of craftsmen and artisans. One can also take a boat ride on the canal and explore the important landmark and attractions along the canal for a unique experience.
Parco Sempione or Simplon Park is a large park in Milan located in the historic center. The park with abundant greenery and flower beds is a great place to relax after some sightseeing. The park offers panoramic views of Sforza Castle and the Arch of Peace, the two major landmarks of Milan.
There are numerous sculptures and important buildings located in the park. The Arena Civica, the aquarium, X Triennial Pavilion, and the Torre Branca tower are all located in the park.
Arco Della Pace
Arco della Pace or the Arch of Peace is a remarkable monument located in the Parco Sempione. The gate marks the place where the road connecting Milan to Paris enters Milan. The original gate dated back to the Roman times and was part of Roman walls of Milan. The Arch of Peace was built in the early 19th century to commemorate Napolean’s victories. The neoclassical triumphal arch features bas-reliefs, statues, and Corinthian columns.
Santa Maria Delle Grazie
Santa Maria Delle Grazie is a church and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The church was completed in the 15th century and was built on the site of the previous chapel. One of the top highlights of the church is the mural of The Last Supper located in the refectory of the Convent of Church.
The Last Supper is a late 15th-century mural painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is one of the famous and most recognized paintings in the world.
The important copies of The Last Supper are known to exist in the Royal Academy of Arts of London, other in the Church of St. Ambrogio in Ponte Capriasca, Switzerland. A third copy is displayed in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Belgium.
Cimitero Monumentale di Milano
The Cimitero Monumentale is one of the two largest cemeteries in Milan. The cemetery has numerous monumental tombs adorned with contemporary and classical Italian sculptures.
One can also find Greek temples and elaborate obelisks in the cemetery. The tombs in the cemetery belong to industrialists, renowned personalities and honored citizens.
Basilica of San Lorenzo
The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore is another ancient church in Milan. The church originally dates back to the Roman times built around the late 4th century but was rebuilt several times. The church features a central dome, Corinthian columns and remarkable mosaics in the interior of the church.
Milan Attractions Map
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