Best Top 10 Milan things to do

Top 10 Milan things to do – Milan is a large city very oriented in the business world, but every year it attracts many visitors who particularly appreciate its monuments and fashion streets. What to see in Milan? What are the best things to do in this city? What is the history of its monuments?

Milan things to do

Here is our list of things to do in Milan.

  1. Castello Sforzesco (Milan castle sforzesco)
  2. Terraces of the Cathedral on the Duomo rooftop https://ticket.duomomilano.it/en/
  3. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  4. Teatro la Scala https://www.museoscala.org/en/visit/
  5. Monastery of Santa Maria Delle Grazie, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which houses the iconic ‘Last Supper’ by Leonardo Da Vinci.
  6. Palazzo Reale
  7. Villa Reale
  8. I Navigli
  9. Museum of science and technology
  10. Branca Tower

Other things to visit

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  • Sempione Park
  • ‘900 Museum
  • Aquarium
  • La rinascente

Let’s go to deepen together some of these things to see in Milan.

Sforza Castle: The Castle of Milan

The Castello Sforzesco has inside important museums, collections, and cultural institutes.

What is the history of the Castle of Milan?

The origins of the Castle of Milan, also known as the Castle of Porta Giovia (Jupiter Gate), is linked with the time of the Visconti rule. In fact, the Lord of Milan Galeazzo II Visconti, in 1368, commissioned a fortified structure to be built beside the city walls.

His successors, Sian Galeazzo (1385-1402) and Filippo Maria Visconti (1412-1447) reinforced and enlarged the castle and established their residence here. Unfortunately, the castle was later partially destroyed during the years of the Ambrosian Republic.

The Castle was later rebuilt by Francesco Sforza: the skilled military leader and Duke of Milan from 1450-1466. Francesco Sforza not only rebuilt the castle but also decided to rebuild it on a more grandiose and majestic scale. To do that, entrusted the project to famous engineers and architects such as Giovanni da Milano, Jacopo da Cortona, Bartolomeo Gadio, and Antonio di Pietro Averulino, also known as “il Filarete”.

The Castle, enriched and enlarged, could provide an elegant setting for the Renaissance court of Milan. The protagonist of this period were Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1466-1476) and Ludovico Maria Sforza “il Moro”, who was deposed by the French in 1499. The artists employed at the Sforza court included Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci.

From 16th to 19th century, the Castle was used by foreign forces as a barracks, stables and storage space. It underwent profound transformations during the long period of Spanish domination (1535-1706) when the sumptuous royal residence was turned into a star fort.

It remained a fortress until the arrival of Napoleonic forces in 1796. In 1800, Napoleon began the demolition of the fortified walls to make way for an area to be used in a grandiose project, the Bonaparte Forum.

Later, the unification of Italy sparked a fierce debate as to whether the Castle was to be saved or demolished, and only at the end of the 19th century did the desire to restore the monument prevail.

The work was entrusted to the architect Luca Beltrami who, between 1893 and 1911, rebuilt, among other things, the main tower, known as the “Tower of Filarete”, which had collapsed following an explosion in 1521.

Beltrami created the necessary spaces inside the tower to transform the entire building into a receptacle of the city’s historical memory.

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The Porta Giova

This name was the name belonging to the city walls of the communal era (12th century behind which Galeazzo II Visconti, in 1368, built the first nucleus of the Castle, the Castrum Portae Jovis, between the rural territory and the inhabited area.

Galeazzo II Visconti had defined the canons of Visconti’s military architecture with the construction of the Pavia Castle, which had already begun a few years earlier.

We can know what the north-western access to Milan was like, which opened between the Porta Vercellina and the Pusterla Delle Azze, thanks to a fourteenth-century plan of the city. This plan is taken from a codex containing works by the Milanese chronicler Galvano Fiamma and describes it as a small door with a single turreted and crenelated arch.

Gian Galeazzo Visconti succeeded his father in 1385 and added a “citadel” towards the countryside to the first fortified nucleus. In this way, the ancient urban wall was incorporated into the building and its relative moat lost all defensive functions, thus becoming a “dead moat”.

After 1412 Filippo Maria Visconti joined the two parts of the Castle with the demolition of the wall.

At the point where the ancient Pusterla Giovia presumably stood today, there remains a passage in the shape of a square enclosure equipped with two doors: one towards the Cortile Delle Armi protected by a drawbridge and one towards the Ducal Court.

The Duomo Cathedral

Milan Cathedral is the symbol of the city. We, therefore, want to know something more about this monument.

  • The Milan Cathedral Milan Things to do

Who ordered the construction of the Milan Cathedral?

The construction of the Milan Cathedral began in 1386 by the will of the then lord of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti.

When did the construction of the Milan Cathedral begin, and when was it completed?

The construction and completion of the Milan Cathedral took centuries. Here are the main historical stages of its construction:

  • 1386: Construction of the Cathedral begins
  • 1387: The Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano is officially established
  • 15th and 16th centuries: The apse, the first spire, the transepts, the Tiburio, and the Amedeo spire are completed.
  • 17th and 18th centuries: The main spire is completed.
  • 1774: The Madonna is hoisted on the Spire Maggiore.
  • 19th (19th) century: Most of the statues and spiers are made.
  • 1965 The construction of the Milan Cathedral is completed with the inauguration of the last door.

The majesty of the Duomo

As soon as you see the Duomo of Milan, you are captured and fascinated by the grandeur of this building. This grandeur and magnificence are also evident from the following data:

  • 3400 statues
  • 200 bas-reliefs
  • over 3600 characters
  • 55 stained glass windows for a total area of ​​4250 square meters
  • 135 spiers
  • 150 gargoyles
  • 158 in external length
  • 93 meters external width
  • 11,700 square meters of internal surface
  • 96 giants
  • 108.5m high from the ground.

What is placed at the highest point of the Milan Cathedral?

On the highest point of the Milan Cathedral is the Madonnina. The Madonnina of the Milan Cathedral was placed on top of the Spire Maggiore, 108.5 meters above the ground, at the end of December 1774.

The statue is 4.16 meters high, it is supported by a stainless steel frame, it is empty inside and it is covered outside with embossed and gilded copper plates.

The statue of the Madonna was made from the wooden model by Giuseppe Perego. The blacksmith who made the original internal iron support was Giovanni Battista Varino, now kept in the Duomo Museum.

Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, whose construction occurred between 1865 and 1877, is a mesty-covered passage connecting Piazza Duomo to Piazza della Scala. Since its inauguration, it has been considered the “living room of Milan” due to the presence of luxurious clubs and shops.

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Terraces of the Cathedral on the Duomo rooftops

The visit to the terraces of the cathedral allows you to climb on the roof of the Milan Cathedral to appreciate its architecture more but also to enjoy unique views of the Piazza del Duomo and the skyline of Milan.

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To go up to the Cathedral’s Terraces, you have to buy an entrance ticket and the best way to do it is online on the official website: https://ticket.duomomilano.it

By purchasing tickets online, you can then go directly to the cathedral, to the relative access points for the ascent to the terraces.

You can choose whether to take the lift or walk via the stairs when purchasing your ticket. Depending on the choice made and the ticket purchased, you must go to the access point dedicated to the ascent by stairs or lift.

However, the descent from the terraces of the cathedral is always via stairs, even if you have chosen and purchased the ticket for the lift.

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace of Milan is located in Piazza Duomo and was for many centuries the seat of the government of the city of Milan, of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Veneto and then the royal residence until 1919. Today this splendid building has become the seat of exhibitions and exhibitions.

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Those who visit the exhibitions at the Royal Palace appreciate the works on display and the palace’s beauty with its large rooms and chandeliers of rare beauty.

The Navigli

The Navigli was a precious system of navigable canals that allowed Milan also to be connected by water to Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, and the Po ‘which in turn has its outlet in the Adriatic Sea.

We can therefore imagine the importance that these channels have had in the past for the transport of goods. The canals were also a precious water resource for the city and the hinterland. Leonardo da Vinci also contributed to this system of canals.

The heavy marble used for the construction of the Milan Cathedral was made to pass along these canals.

Today, unfortunately, little remains of this network of canals which is still a fundamental part of the city but for a different reason.

The Naviglio Grande area is the beating heart of Milanese nightlife. Here you can find excellent restaurants and places to spend a nice evening. In many places in this area, there is happy hour: with the purchase of the drink (only one drink), which is sometimes at a fixed price and sometimes you pay according to what is ordered, you can also eat from a buffet.

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This is a great solution if you don’t want to spend much on dinner but still want a nice evening in Milan.

The Milan Aquarium

The Milan aquarium is located inside a historic Viennese Art Nouveau building. It was designed by the architect Sebastiano Locati as a pavilion for the 1906 Milan International Exposition.

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The Milan aquarium has nothing to do with large aquariums like the one in Genoa: the path of the tanks is short and the tanks are compared to other small aquariums.

The interesting thing about this aquarium, however, is that the itinerary aims to make known the fish present in the waters of the local area. In fact, it follows the path of the water from the alpine springs up to 30 meters of sea depth, following the river Adda.

The visit to this aquarium is not surprising in terms of the fish present but it is still useful in order to enrich one’s personal culture with respect to one’s own territory or, in any case, to the territory one is visiting.

Museum of the twentieth century

The Museo del Novecento is located in Piazza Duomo and houses works from the twentieth century.

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Sempione Park

Parco Sempione is a green area of ​​the completely enclosed area of ​​Milan and is located near the Sforzesco Castle.

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Rinascente Store

One of the best-known stores in Milan. Here you can go shopping but you also find other things inside. For example, there is also a bar.

Milan things to do Rinascente Store
Milan things to do Rinascente Store

Where to eat without spending a lot?

Here are some places where you can eat well without breaking the bank.

Near Piazza Duomo

If you want to eat something good during your visit to Piazza Duomo without spending too much, you can go to the Panzerotteria Il Prisco.

Milan Metro Map

Italy Milan metro map
Italy Milan metro map

Day trips from Milan by Train

Here are some places that you can comfortably reach by train from Milan for a day trip.

Lake Maggiore

  • Stresa: even with direct trains without changes.
  • Laveno: even with direct trains without changes.

Lake Como

  • Varenna: even with direct trains without changes. From Varenna, you can also go to Bellagio by boat.

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Milan things to do – Related posts:

Lake Maggiore Italy

Verbania

Stresa

Lake Garda Italy

Malcesine

Lake Como

Frequent questions

What are the top attractions to visit in Milan?

The Milan Cathedral Milan Things to do

Here is our list of things to do in Milan: Castello Sforzesco (Milan castle Sforzesco), Terraces of the Cathedral on the Duomo rooftop, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Teatro la Scala, Monastery of Santa Maria Delle Grazie, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which houses the iconic ‘Last Supper’ by Leonardo Da Vinci, Palazzo Reale, Villa Reale, I Navigli, Museum of science and technology, Branca Tower.

What are the most popular things to do in Milan with kids?

Milan things to do Aquarium 10

“Museo delle illusion” or Museum of illusions, Museum of science and technology, aquarium.

What are some fun things to do in Milan?

One idea is to visit the “Museo delle illusion” or Museum of illusions. It’s a museum for families dedicated to optical illusions, with exhibits of holograms and mirrors.

What are the best free things to do in Milan?

Sforza Castle Milan things to do 5

You can go to the Castello Sforzesco (Milan castle Sforzesco) and visit it from the outside. You can also enter the courtyard. Then you can go to Piazza del Duomo so you can see the amazing Duomo from the outside. You can also walk in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. For the evening, a beautiful walk along the Navigli is a great idea. The Naviglio Grande area is the beating heart of Milanese nightlife.

What are the top things to do in Milan?

Things to do in Milan Terraces of the Cathedral on the Duomo rooftops Piazza Duomo Square 4

Here is our list of things to do in Milan: Castello Sforzesco (Milan castle Sforzesco), Terraces of the Cathedral on the Duomo rooftop, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Teatro la Scala, Monastery of Santa Maria Delle Grazie, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which houses the iconic ‘Last Supper’ by Leonardo Da Vinci, Palazzo Reale, Villa Reale, I Navigli, Museum of science and technology, Branca Tower.

What are the top things to do near Milan?

Lake Maggiore Borromean Islands Italy

Day Trips From Milan to Lake Maggiore.
From Milan to Stresa
Stresa is a gorgeous town on lake Maggiore. It has beautiful gardens, luxury hotels, and a beautiful view of the Borromean Islands
From Milan to Laveno Mombello
Laveno is a very nice town on lake Maggiore and you can arrive here from Milan by train in about one and a half or 2 hours. Laveno Mombello isn’t as rich as Stresa but it has a “very Italian style” and you can do very interesting tours from here.
Day Trips From Milan to Lake Como
One of the cutest towns in Lake Como is Bellagio. It takes about one hour and a half from Milan to get here.

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