Arguably the world capital in design and fashion, Milan is often considered to be Italy’s most modern city. A cultural powerhouse, the city is rich in historical and contemporary culture, boasting some of the country’s finest museums, galleries and historical buildings… not an easy feat!
Pinacoteca di Brera
Milan’s most iconic art gallery, the Pinacoteca di Brera is one of Italy’s most prestigious museums, containing one of the world’s richest collections of Italian art. Opened towards the end of the 18th Century in 1776, the museum mainly specialises in Italian Old Masters, featuring works from icons such as Raphael, Titian and Carravaggio. The museum also contains works from a number of celebrated foreign painters such as Van Duck and Rubens. Without a doubt one of the world’s finest galleries, especially in regards to Italian art.
Italy’s largest church and the third-largest in the world, the Milan Cathedral is an incredibly impressive building and arguably the most iconic in the city. Initially built in the late 14th Century, the building underwent construction for several centuries, finally being completed in the mid-20th Century. Due to the long period of its construction, the cathedral boasts a number of different architectural styles. The vast cathedral holds a number of important artworks, artefacts and monuments including a famous statue of Saint Bartholomew designed by Marco d’Agrate. The building has drawn a polarised response from critics but is certainly worth visiting to appreciate the sheer scale of it.
One of the city’s most iconic sites, Sforza Castle was built in the 15th Century under the orders of the eponymous Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan. An impressive fortification, the castle was one of Europe’s most impressive and large citadels for many centuries. Following a drastic overhaul at the turn of the twentieth century, the Castle has since been converted into a major cultural centre. Housing a vast complex of museums, the Castle is both a well-preserved slice of the city’s history and a rich source of culture. Museums include the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, specialising in Italian old masters, the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Ancient Art, amongst many others.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
A beautiful church dating back to the 15th Century, the Santa Maria Delle Grazie is most famous for the iconic at work which it houses-Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Aside from visiting to glimpse one of the most significant paintings in existence, the church itself is an incredibly impressive piece of Gothic architecture. Without a doubt one of the most essential and unmissable buildings in Milan.
A library and art gallery dating back to the early 17th Century, the Biblioteca Ambrosiana is a major cultural institution in Milan. Established by Cardinal Federico Borromeo and named for the patron saint of Milan-Ambrose-the library contains a number of hugely significant historical manuscripts from throughout the world. The collection is estimated to exceed 30,000 across a number of different languages. In addition, the library houses a number of artworks, including many from Leonardo Da Vinci.
main image: courtesy of Mike Beales, Flickr Creative Commons