Milan was the first place of Italy I visited during the Christmas trip. Before I came here, the impression of the city lies in the abundance of luxury brands shops and fiery Milan Derby in San Siro. Until my arrival, I realized that it was also a gorgeous city combined with classical and artistic elements. It was the old capital of the Western Roman Empire, also collects larges amounts of works of Leonardo da Vinci.
I arrived at the city at Christmas night. The Piazza del Duomo was aswarm with frantical people celebrating Christmas. This is the main visiting point of Milan. Tonight, the focus of attention was the large Christmas tree with splendid colors. The large square was illuminated by the eye-dazzling lustre like daytime.
This is the stature of Victor Emmanuel II in the center of the square. He became the first king of a united Italy and was repected as the father of the country.
On the square, even quite far away, I could also see the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is the Italy’s oldest shopping mall with a four-story double arcade. The Galleria is named after Victor Emmanuel II. It was designed in 1861 and built by architect Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877. The façade of the gallery is the magnificent triumphal arch, decorated with the colonnades.
In the glamorous gallery, the tall and fully decorated Christmas tree was silhouetted against the scintillating glass dome that highlights the ardent ambience of festival these days. The gallery had the large spans of the vaults and the ethereal effect of the entire glass canopy. It displayed numerous luxury brands shops of haute couture and jewelry in the arcades, showcase of the luxurious and glorious history of the city. Italians are the born talents of paintings and sculptures. Even on the wall of the shopping mall, I could still discover many reliefs of eagle shape and scuplture of Santa Maria.
Milan is an ancient city with long history. There are many old gates scattering in the different areas. Porta Venezia is one of the historical gates of the city. Its origins can be traced back to the medieval period but now it just stands tranquilly among the sparkling glims of the modern city, with the testimony of the vicissitude of life.
On the way back to hotel, I could see many streets with the luxury brands shops. Although it was the christmas night, those stores were still open. Shadows of pendent lamps flicked on the windows of the shops. The gaudy ornaments and garments displayed inside are telling us that it is indeed the capital of fashion.
After one night’s rest, I came here again to take the picture of this magnificant church, the famous Milan Cathedral. The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the largest Gothic church in the world with the construction starting from 1386. It is the symbol of Milan, also the fourth largest church in the world.
The roof of the cathedral is renowned for the forest of openwork pinnacles and spires. In 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte, about to be crowned King of Italy, ordered the finish. Finally, after it was finished, a statue of Napoleon was placed at the top of one of the spires. The decoration is so fantastic that it is hard to describe it with simple words. When I was staring it at the bottom of its wall, I was just amazed at its imposing grandiosity and the tininess of myself.
Near the square opposite to the Vittorio Emanuele II gallery, the Royal Palace of Milan could be found. It was the seat of government in the middle ages but now served as a cultural center and it is home to international art exhibitions. Compared with the luxuirious palace in France, it was really too ‘plain’.
On the north entrance of the gallary of Vittorio Emanuele II. There is another museum displaying the art works of Filippino Lippi. It is the Palazzo Marino, a 16th-century palace located in Piazza della Scala. It has been Milan’s city hall since 9 September 1861. The palace was built for, and is named after, the Genoan trader and banker Tommaso Marino. The famous opera house Scala is also around the square.
There is another building attracting my attention due to its eight obvious outruding figures. Casa degli Omenoni is the name of the historic palace which was designed by sculptor Leone Leoni. He lived and worked there. It owes its name to the eight atlantes decorating its facade, termed “omenoni” (“big men” in Milanese). Actually I have no ideas of the meaning of these atlantes with different postures.
There are not only luxury shops but many old churches in Milan as well. The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore church was originally built in Roman times and subsequently rebuilt several times over a number of centuries. It is one of the oldest churches in Milan. The statue in front of the church seems to be the emperor Auguste.
This is the side view of the church from the Basilicas park. It has the old towers and brick walls eroded by times.
The Colonne di San Lorenzo is a group of ancient Roman ruins, located in front of the Basilica of San Lorenzo. In the 4th century, the columns were moved here, after removal from a likely 2nd century pagan temple or public bath house structure. These columns are similar with the ones in the temple of Rome.
Another church with very long history is the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, built by St. Ambrose from 379 to 386. Numerous martyrs of the Roman persecutions had been buried here. The first name of the church was in fact Basilica Martyrum. I have no knowledge about architecture but I found this building is different with other church. It has two bell towers and its entrance is an arched arcade. The main color style of the building is red instead of white.
Next one is the super famous Santa Maria delle Grazie which is a church and Dominican convent. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to the mural of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, which is in the refectory of the convent. This church is free to visit but the visit of the Last Supper is charged and needs to be appointed in advance. Because of this reason I could not see the painting in person. What a pity!
The mural painting is the one of the most well-known paintings in the world. It was finished by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1490 with dimensions of 700 cm × 880 cm. It was the scene of the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles. The painting depicted vividly the consternation that occurred among the twelve apostles when Jesus announced that one of them would betray him.
Parrocchia di Santa Maria Segreta is a small catholic church. There is nothing special about it. I just took the picture because of several beautiful sculptures in the niche on the facade. All these churches actually are not far from each others. 1 hour walk is enough to visit all of them.
Arco della Pace is the triumphal arch at the entrance of Sforza Castle. It is at the gate of Sempione which origins could be traced back to a gate of the Roman walls. It’s a neoclassical triumphal arch, 25 m high and 24 m wide. There are some bronze sculptures of roman cavalries on the top of the arch.
Another symbol of Milan is the Sforza Castle that was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Rebuilt by Luca Beltrami from 1891 to 1905, it became city’s museums with many art collections.
In 1450, Francesco Sforza began reconstruction of the castle to turn it into his princely residence. In 1452 he hired architect Filarete to design and decorate the central tower, which was known as Torre del Filarete. After Francesco’s death, the construction was continued by his son Galeazzo Maria, under architect Benedetto Ferrini.
This castle has been used as the military fortress so now some of its defense systems are still kept.
This sculpture at the gate of the castle memorizes the great general Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi. He contributed greatly to the Italian unification and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy. He is considered one of the greatest generals of modern times and one of Italy’s “fathers of the fatherland” along with Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, Victor Emmanuel II and Giuseppe Mazzini.
This is the street view that was randomly taken before I left. There are many old styles of trams in Milan so the electric cables are everywhere in the street.
I only stayed in Milan for 1 day so there are many places that I didn’t have chance to visit. There are so many museums in Italy that it is difficult to visit them one by one. This last photo is the Milan central station that looks quite beautiful, like a museum. I would take high speed trains from here to Firenze. Hopefully I could have chance to come here again and see The Last Supper next time.