4 – Castello Sforzesco
If you take Via Mercanti, than Via Dante from Piazza del Duomo, you will arrive directly at the very impressive main entrance of the Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle), another iconic monument of Milan, with the big fountain, in front of the south entrance. It was built in 1358 by the famous Visconti family to protect and defend the city against its enemy, Venice. Destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, it’s famous for having hosted Leonardo DaVinci workshops during the Renaissance period. Today, the castle hosts several museums, like the Museum of Ancient art, with frescoes of the Sforza family and many sculptures and the prehistoric collections of the Archaeological Museum of Milan. There, you can learn about the story of Lombardy since the Neolithic, museum of Decorative Arts, with the work of stonecutters, weavers and upholsterers, the Egyptian Museum and its collection of sarcophagi and mummies.
The Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, host more than 1500 works of art from the 13th to the 18th century and at the Museum of musical instruments, you’ll find instruments from around the world
with the Antique Furniture and Wooden Sculpture Museum.
The vast inner courtyard of the castle is open to the public for free. It often hosts cultural events.
The exhibition devoted to Leonardo da Vinci is only a tiny part of this gigantic museum. Over several floors, you will discover aviation, rail transport, automobile, naval transport, space, communications and many others.
5 – Santa Maria delle Grazie
Santa Maria delle Grazie is known for housing one of the most beautiful masterpieces ever made, the painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper in the refectory of the monastery, now called “Cenacolo” in reference to the masterpiece. Thousands of tourists come every year to admire this painting representing the last meal of Jesus Christ.
6 – Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio
Named after the patron saint of the city, a first church was built on site in 386. The current basilica, one of the oldest in the city, was completed in 1099. The exterior of the church, with its 2 brick towers of different heights and beautiful atrium is quite unusual. This point of interest isn’t very well known by tourists, but it’s definitely worth a look. A great opportunity to take nice pictures!
Inside, you can see: the sarcophagus of Stilicon and the crypt, where the remains of Saint Ambrose, Saint Gervasus and Saint Protasus are located.
At the main entrance, you can see the graves of the most important citizens of the country. Amongst the most popular, you can find a pyramid, a white tower or a marble four-poster bed shaped tomb. Milan wealthy families have really competed to stand out, as the numerous sculptures of angels or statues can attest.
7 – Pinacoteca di Brera
The Pinacoteca di Brera (“Brera Art Gallery” in English) houses one of the most important art collections in Italy. It’s located in the Palazzo Brera, built on a former monastery. At the time, monks were the first to make it a cultural center with a school, an astronomical observatory and a library. Since then, the collection of the Art Gallery just kept growing. Today, the works are exhibited in about forty rooms and are arranged in chronological order, according to the art technique used. Amongst the most famous masterpieces, you can admire Raphael’s ”The Marriage of the Virgin” or Caravaggio’s ”Last Supper to Emmaus”. Information for the schedule and entrance fee is available on the Pinacoteca di Brera official website.
8 – The Royal Palace of Milan
As the seat of the Milanese government for many years, the Royal Palace of Milan has become an important cultural center of the city. Several exhibitions are organized every year, whether of modern or contemporary art, fashion or design.
The Royal Palace is over 7,000 square meters, and is home to many paintings lent by some of the most prestigious museums in the world.
You can also visit the museum of the palace. It presents its own history as well as the city and population of Milan history. Divided into 4 parts, the museum allows you to explore the Neoclassical, Napoleonic, and Restoration periods, ending with the unification of Italy, a very important period in the history of Milan.
09. Navigli canals
Another place you shouldn’t miss in Milan is the Navigli district, crossed by canals. It’s the most picturesque side of Milan! Originally, this system of canals connected the Po river to the lakes of the region. They were used to transport goods and supply Milan with water. The system of dam and locks used was invented by Leonardo da Vinci. Even the materials used for the construction of the Milan Cathedral, was transported by these canals. Today, you can go to the Navigli district, starting from “darsena” walk quietly along the canals and enjoy a drink or a meal on one of the clubs. The best is to go there at the end of the day, with the light of the setting sun. It’s a very romantic neighborhood, especially in the evening with the lights reflecting in the canals and the local life starting in the numerous bars and restaurants.