Milan is a city in Italy that is the capital of the Lombardia region. The city sits on just over seventy square miles and has a population of over one and a half million people. This gives the city a population density of eighteen thousand people per square mile. Milan is a city that is considered to be the world capital of fashion and design. It is also a city that has a lot of historical landmarks and cultural diversity.
The area that Milan is now situated on was first occupied by the Celtic Insubres around 400 B.C. It remained in their hands until it was conquered by the Roman Empire in 222 B.C. Upon the defeat of the Celts the Romans named the city Mediolanum. The city was under Roman control for over fifty years before it was declared the capital of the Western Roman Empire by Emperor Diocletian. Over the centuries this city found itself under constant attack by barbarian tribes and as a result didn’t expand very much during that period of time. This changed during the twelveth century as it became an important center of trade. Today, Milan is the home of world class restaurants and hotels and offers visitors everything from skyscrapers to spacious plazas.
One of the most popular attractions in Milan is the Duomo. This is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and construction began on it in the fourteenth century. Over the course of the next four hundred years work was sporadic, but it was finally completed in 1809. This church is capable of seating over forty thousand worshippers and is adorned with over thirty-four hundred statues, ninety-six gargoyles and one hundred and thirty-five spires. Located in this cathedral are the tombs of Giacomo de Medici and St Charles Borromeo. On the other side of the piazza is the Palazzo Reales which contains the Museo del Duomo. The Museo del Duomo is where all the prized treasures of the cathedral are on display. Also in the Palazzo Reales is the Museo d’Arte Contomporanea. This museum displays a sizable collection of Italian art. Another popular attraction is a four story arcade that contains a large glass dome and extends from the Piazza della Scala to the plaza in front of the Duomo. Its filled with many of Milan’s trendy shops and locals will often hang out and socialize at this location.
Resting on the site as the Church of Santa Maria alla Scala is the world reknowned opera house called the Theatre Museum at La Scala. This museum is dedicated to the famous composers and performers of Milan and contains many artifacts related to them. Another important Milan museum is the Museo Poldi-Pezzoli. This museum contains the private collection of Poldi Pezzoli, which he donated to the city in 1879. This museum is filled with various masterpieces such as the Bellini’s Ecco Homo and Guardi’s Gray Lagoon. Other notable museums in the city of Milan include the Museum of Historic Art of the Sforzesco Castle, Leonardo da Vinci National Science & Technology Museum, The Gallery of Modern Art and Pinacoteca di Brera.
One of the oldest churches in Milan is the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio. This church was built in 386 by Bishop Ambrose. It is located on the area where many of the Roman persecuted martyrs are buried. The main features of this church are the two bell towers and a spectacular mosaic from the thirteenth century. Also located here is the tomb of Emperor Louis II, who died in Lombardy around 875 AD.
The Pinacoteca di Brera has what is considered to be one of the finest collections of Renaissance and Medieval art in all of Italy. This gallery was built in the seventeenth century and contains such esteemed works as Andrea Mantegna’s Dead Christ, Raphael’s Betrothal of the Virgin, and Piero della Francesca’s Madonna with Saints. It also contains many works of art from Napoleons private collections. Located behind the Pinacoteca di Brera is the Orto Botanico di Brera. This botanical garden was founded in 1774 by Maria Theresa of Austria. The main features of this garden include flowerbeds and ponds from the eighteenth century and greenhouses from the nineteenth century. Contained in the garden is one of the oldest Ginkgo Biloba trees in all of Europe.
One of the largest aquariums in Italy is the Milan Aquarium. This aquarium has thirty six pools which are filled with over one hundred different species of fish. The pools are recreations of the actual environments of the fish, so visitors can see different environments from the Amazon to the Mediterranean. The different fish represented here include fish that are native to Italy, as well as fish from the Amazon, which includes piranhas.
Milan is also a city that has a wide range of restaurants that serve a large variety of different cuisines from not only Italy but all over the world. Some of the more popular restaurants include Da Giacomo, Da Claudio, Ponte Rosso, Il Verdi and Premiata Pizzeria. There are also many spots in Milan that are dedicated to its vibrant nightlife. This is especially true in areas such as the Brera gallery, Navigli area and Centri Sociali. Milan is a city that has a rich culture and is therefore very popular. Be sure to book you hotel room well in advance to make sure you get the room that you want.