The second largest city in Italy is Milan, which is the capital of Lombardy. Its urban area is the largest in Italy and ranked fifth in Europe. Milan founders were the Insubres which were Celtic people, later on the city became the capital of the Western Europe Empire when it was conquered by the Romans.
These last few decades the number of international immigrants in Milan grew which led to a great increase of foreign born inhabitants. Milan is considered a leading global city and in Italy it is the main financial, commercial and even industrial centre. The business district in Milan the Italian Stock Exchange is hosted and the city is known to be the base of the largest companies and national banks. The city is also said to be the capital of fashion and design.
Milan is home to some important landmarks, theatres and museums, that which attracts a lot of tourists all year long. One important and hard to miss landmark is the Milan Cathedral. The cathedral is the fourth largest in the world. There is also the Santa Maria della Grazie which is a church and Dominican convent is adorned with paintings of Leonardo da Vinci and which is officially recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church contains the mural of Leonardo da Vinci called The Last Supper.
Milan hosts several events and fairs at an international level such as the Milan Furniture Fair and the Milan Fashion Week. The town is also home to two major football teams namely F.C. Internazionale Milano and A. C. Milan.
From the ancient Roman colony there are a few vestiges still left such as the Colonne di San Lorenzo. There are also the great basilicas at the city gates, which are Sant’ Eustorgio, San Simpliciano, Sant’ Nazaro in Brolo and Sant’ Ambrogio. These still stand tall and are regarded as some of the finest and significant churches in the city.
The famous Milan’s Cathedral is the best and most important example of Gothic style architecture and it was built in the years 1386 to 1577. The statue of the Virgin Mary which is gilded with bronze was placed, back in 1774, on the pinnacle at the highest point of the Duomo. Even today the statue is one of the most lasting symbols of the city.
In Milan you will also be able to see the Castello Sforzesco, transformed in the 15th century from an old Viscontean fortress with the purpose of becoming the seat of a Renaissance court. Many well-known architects were commissioned to participate in this projects, including Florentine Filarette who buit the high central tower and Bartolomeo Gadio who was a military specialist.
Influenced by the alliance that formed between Florence’s Cosmino de’ Medici and Francesco Sforza, Tuscan models of Renaissance architecture made their presence known. That can be clearly seen in buildings such as the Ospedale Maggiore, Santa Maria della Grazzie tribune, the three cloisters for Sant’ Ambrogio and Santa Maria presso San Satiro.
Saint Charles Borromeo and Cardinal Federico Borromeo were cousins and an important part of the Counter-Reformation in the 16th century and which lasted until the 17th century. These too had a great influence to the people and to the culture alike, leading to creations such as the Biblioteca Ambrosiana and the Pinoteca Ambrosiana that was just nearby. During this same period, architects such as Francesco Maria Richinno, Pellegrino Tibaldi and Galeazzo Alessi, built many important Baroque mansions and churches.
Later on, during the 18th century, extensive renovations took place in Milan by the request of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. These renovations included the Royal Palace and the Teatro alla Scala which today is the most famous opera house in the world.
Regarded as the best examples of neoclassical architecture in Lombardy, there are the Royal Villa of Milan and the Palazzo Belgioioso. The Royal Villa of Milan was later on the official residence of Austria vice-roys.
While under Napoleon, Milan was named the capital of a satellite Kingdom of Italy and started to be reshaped and new squares and larger boulevards were constructed, as well as cultural institutions, such as the Art Galery and the Academy of Fine arts and the squares named Porta Ticinese and Foro Bonaparte.
Another breathtaking and massive construction that took place was the Arch of Peace which was located at the bottom of Corso Sempione. There is also the Galleria Vitorrio Emanuele II that was designed by Giuseppe Mengoni and that was built as a celebration to Vittorio Emanuele II. The building was inspired by the Bulnighton Arcade in London and has a cast iron roof adorned with glass.
In these last few years, Milan has had an urban decay and renewal of former industrial areas which are now modern residential and financial districs such as Fiera Milano and Porta Nova. According to some, the old exhibition area is to be reshaped to feature residential areas, skyscrapers, museums, and an urban park.
The largest park in the centre of Milan is the Sempiore Park in the northwest and Montanelli Garden in the northeast. The Sempiore Park adopted the English style and has in its premises the Milan City Aquarium and the Napoleonic Arena, as well as a Japanese garden and a public library. There is also a steel lattice panoramic tower and an exhibition centre for those who are interested.
There are various places to visit when in Milan, lots of places to shop and party and it is a city that can offer anything you would ever want or need. It is one of the most recommended places you can move to for a better and more exciting life. Don’t be afraid to live your life, we can help!
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Photographer: Jakub Hałun