always been a city with momentum, capable of surprising and amazing as it
continues to move forwards in the arts and in multiple expressions of culture.
The very places where culture grows and evolves are dynamic places, made not
only to excite visitors, but also to attract talent and knowledge and to arouse
interest and curiosity. Milans galleries, numerous and international, are like
litmus paper, an indication of just how lively the city is in the area of
Here, many exhibitions that cover a range of genres are organised. These venues are not just spaces reserved for expositions, but represent a place of meeting and cultural exchange in the city. Its foundations are institutions at the service of the city, able to function as incubators of ideas, helping them to be born and to be diffused.
The biblioteche or libraries represent an invaluable treasure held in the city. In the Bibiloteca Sormani, there are more than 600 thousand volumes, including books belonging to Stendhal, around 20 thousand consultable Italian and foreign newspapers in the newspaper and periodical section and more than 23 thousand discs, CDs, filmstrips and videocassettes in the audiovisual centre.
The Biblioteca Ambrosiana is one of the top Italian libraries for its vast collections and the number of manuscripts in its possession. There is a sea of pages of history, religion and literature in which to lose oneself. There are also classic texts and rare scrolls to be found here. The libraries offer not only immediate access to books, periodicals, audio-visual materials and all the instruments of knowledge that new technology puts at our disposal, but they also guarantee spaces for personal growth and socialisation in response to the most varied needs of their visitors. Many of these libraries, in particular the larger ones, offer spaces, often quite ample, for the presentation of books, study days, meetings and conferences.
Institutes such as the Circolo Filologico Milanese offer courses in languages from all the countries in the world and even Milanese history and dialect for those that wish to conserve the local culture and traditions.
Places of knowledge in a city where exchange of ideas and cultural development are fundamental elements.
Milan boasts a richness and unique variety of museums. Over the centuries, the long literary, artistic, musical and scientific tradition has made this city into a propeller centre, a crossroads of culture that has left behind numerous traces, now preserved in important museum collections.
Amongst these is the most prestigious, the Pinacoteca di Brera, that preserves artworks of extraordinary artistic value inside its walls, and also the Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle) one of the symbols of Milan. The latter hosts Michelangelos Pietà Rondanini in its museums and offers visitors some of the most varied collections, including musical instruments, the Egyptian Collection, the Prehistory and Protohistory Collections and the Museum of Ancient Art.
Worthy of note are the lovely museum houses, testimony to a long tradition of private collection in Milan. They preserve works of art, furniture, jewellery and objects of yesteryear in striking buildings of great historical value, such as the Poldi Pezzoli, the Bagatti Valsecchi, the Villa Necchi-Campigli and the Boschi di Stefano.
The ample scope of cultural museum collections also covers the naturalistic and scientific fields with the Museo di Storia Naturale (Museum of Natural History), the Acquario Civico (Civic Aquarium), the Planetarium and the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia (Museum of Science and Technology), which is dedicated to the great Leonardo da Vinci and has sections devoted to transport, materials and even the new frontiers of biotechnology and telecommunications. Milans museum network is a sign of cultural vivacity in continuous renewal that involves various subjects, from public, private and ecclesiastical entities to foundations.
The beautiful facade of the cathedral reveals itself in grand spectacle as you ascend the stairs of the exit of the metropolitana (subway). From its 108 metre post, the gilded statue of the Madonnina stands out, along with the pinnacles, the stained glass, the windows and finally the grand doors. The final stair as you exit brings into view the piazza and will leave you breathless. You stop to admire, but not for too long because the real surprise is the decorations along the sides of the cathedral and the coloured stained-glass windows of the apse. Be sure to take a stroll around.
The cathedral of Milan holds over six centuries of history and the entire building is made of pink-hued, white marble that comes from the quarries of Candoglia. Its construction began in 1386 on the area where the basilicas Santa Tecla and Santa Maria Maggiore stood and later became encompassed in the new cathedral. Architects, sculptors, artists and thousands of specialized workers became involved in the Fabbrica del Duomo (the construction of the cathedral) which, it can easily be said, has never stopped operating. Even today, in fact, work still continues on this extraordinary piece that is the symbol and heart of the city.
The immense heritage generated by this work includes hundreds of statues, a myriad of half-bust sculptures and spectacular stained-glass and ornate decorations in its frames and windows. A gigantic work in late Gothic style, it spreads out over a surface of 11,700 square metres and preserves the memories of the city. It is impossible to list exactly all that there is inside, but as you enter, you cant help but notice an intimate atmosphere despite the enormous spaces that are all waiting to be discovered. It is the same for the crypt, which is accessed by a marble staircase. Here you will find the Tesoro del Duomo (Treasure of the Cathedral) in its retro-choir and the Scurolo, a small temple that preserves the remains of Saint Carlo.
Last but not least, allow for a separate
visit to the rooftop where the scenery is altogether different, but at the same
time, breathtaking. The entrance to the lift, or to the stairs for the sporty
types, is located on the side closest to the department store La Rinascente.
Once at the top, silence dominates, almost obliged by the spectacle that
presents itself. All around you is the view of the whole of Milan and the
magnificent pavement of Piazza del Duomo below assumes a whole different
appearance. Then there is the Galleria, Via Mercanti and the arcade (Loggia)
and on the other side, the buildings of the Arengario and Palazzo Reale; all of
this while you stroll amongst the decorated spires and statues, just a few
metres from the Madonnina.
The Duomo of Milan is also the first cathedral in the world to have its windows lit from within. The illumination system, with 68 low environmental impact lamps, allows the sacred images of the Duomo to be admired at night from outside and has been donated by the Municipal Electric Company, in occasion of its centenary (December 8th, 1910 - December 8th, 2010), to the Venerable Fabbrica del Duomo and to the city of Milan. The illuminated windows are visible on weekends and on religious holidays.
Over the centuries, the castle has been a defence fortress, a residence, military barracks and the site of museums and cultural institutions; the transformations of one of the most representative and popular monuments of Milan have been various and complex.
The defensive nature of this conspicuous structure made it a target for many sieges, demolitions and successive reconstructions of some parts during the French, Spanish and Austrian domination.
The events of the castle unfold in the citys wide window of history, beginning with the original nucleus of the castle, named Porta Giovia, that dated back to 1358-1368 in the times of Galeazzo II Visconti. He used the castle as his residence during his stays in Milan, but above all, he used it as a military garrison.
Filippo Maria Visconti made it his fixed residence, continuing with the consolidation and construction of a real fortalice. It was
Francesco Sfora who, after becoming ruler of Milan in 1450, gave particular impetus to the reconstruction of the building that was gravely damaged between 1447 and 1450.
Today the castle is home to the Civic Museums and since 1896 it has hosted one of the vastest artistic collections in the city. Inside, the Museo dArte Antica (Museum of Ancient Art) is custodian to the last masterpiece of Michelangelo, the Pietà Rondanini. It also hosts the Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery), Raccolta di Mobili (Furniture Collection), with pieces from the 15th to the 19th century; the Rocchetta, where one can admire the Museo delle Arti Decorative (Museum of Decorative Arts), with its extremely vast collection of ceramics; the Oreficerie (Goldsmiths); one of the largest collection of musical instruments in Europe; the Arazzi Trivulzio (Trivulzio Tapestries); the Armeria (Armoury); the Museo della Preistoria e Protostoria (the Museum of Prehistory and Protohistory); the Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum) and the Sale Viscontee, exhibition rooms with periodic displays. Finally, many important archives and libraries are located in the castle: Biblioteca dArte (Library of Art), the Archivio Storico (Historic Archive), the Biblioteca Trivulziana (Trivulziana Library), the Biblioteca Archeologica e Numismatica (Archaeological and Numismatics Library), C.A.S.V.A. (Centre for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts), Raccolta delle Stampe Achille Bertarelli (Achille Bertarelli Print Collection), Archivio Fotografico (Photographic Archive) and the Raccolta Vinciana (Vinciana Collection)