Milan (Italian: Milano [miˈlaːno]) is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza (created in 2004 splitting the northern part from the province of Milan itself), is one of Europe's largest with an estimated population of over 4 million spread over 1,980 km2 (764.48 sq mi), with a consequent population density of more than 2,000 inhabitants/km². The growth of many suburbs and satellite settlements around the city proper following the great economic boom of the 1950s–60s and massive commuting flows suggest that socioeconomic linkages have expanded well beyond the boundaries of the city proper and its agglomeration, creating a metropolitan area of 7.4 million population expanded all over the central section of Lombardy region. It has been suggested that the Milan metropolitan area is part of the so-called Blue Banana, the area of Europe with the highest population and industrial density.
Ruins of the Emperor's palace in Milan. Here Constantine I and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan.
The city was founded by the Insubres, a Celtic people. Milan was later captured by the Romans in 222 BC, and later was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 286 until 402 AD. Milan became one of the most prosperous Italian cities during the High Middle Ages, playing a primary role in the Lombard League. Later Milan became the capital city of the Duchy of Milan, being ruled by the Visconti, the Sforza, the Spanish and the Austrians. In 1796, Milan was conquered by the French troops of Napoleon I, who made it the capital of the puppet state of the Kingdom of Italy in 1805. Later Milan became the capital city of the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, which was part of the Austrian Empire. In 1859 the city was unified with the Kingdom of Sardinia, which later became the Kingdom of Italy. During the Romantic period, Milan was a major cultural centre in Europe, attracting several artists, composers and important literary figures. Later, during World War II, the city was badly affected by Allied bombings, and after German occupation in 1943, Milan became the main hub of the Italian resistance. Despite this, Milan saw a post-war economic growth, attracting thousands of immigrants from Southern Italy and abroad.
The Biscione: the coat of arms of the House of Visconti, from the Archbishops' palace in Piazza Duomo
Over the years, Milan has had an increase in the number of international inhabitants, and 15.2% of Milan's population is foreign born. The city remains one of Europe's main transportation and industrial hubs, and Milan is the EU's 10th most important centre for business and finance (2009) with its economy being the world's 26th richest by purchasing power. Milan ranks highly in both national and international rankings in terms of GDP per capita, average income rates, cost of living, and quality of life. Its economic environment has made it, according to several studies, the world's 20th and Europe's 10th top business and financial centre, having been highly successful in terms of city branding.
Milan City Hall.
Milan is recognised as a world fashion and design capital, and it has thus been ranked by GaWC as an Alpha world city in 2010, as well as the 42nd most important global city. An important centre of the international arts and musical scene, the city holds several renowned institutions, theatres and museums, as well as important monuments, including a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Santa Maria delle Grazie); the metropolis also hosts several important events and fairs, including Milan Fashion Week and the Milan Furniture Fair, the largest of its kind in the world, and will host the 2015 Universal Exposition. The city is also home to two renowned football teams, A.C. Milan and F.C. Internazionale Milano. Euromonitor International ranked Milan as the world's 63rd most visited city in 2009, with 1.894 million arrivals.
Inhabitants of Milan are referred to as "Milanese" (Italian: Milanesi or informally Meneghini or Ambrosiani). Milan, for its pivotal economic role and its fervent political and cultural activity that often anticipates national trends, it is often nicknamed as the "moral capital of Italy".
A view of the Piazza del Duomo, the city's main and most central square, surrounded by several palaces and important buildings, such as Milan Cathedral, the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery and the Royal Palace of Milan.
Milan has a Humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), continental, - although with some continental characteristics - similar to much of Northern Italy's inland plains, where hot, humid and very sultry summers and cold, wet winters prevail.
The Gothic façade of the Milan Cathedral
Average temperatures in city center are 3 °C (37 °F) in January with −2 °C (28 °F) for the minimum and 25 °C (77 °F) in July with average maximum of 30 °C (86 °F). Snowfalls are relatively common during winter but with few days with snow. The historic average of Milan's area is of 21 centimetres (8 in) during the period between 1950 and 2007, with a record of 70 centimetres (28 in) during the snowfall of January 1985. Humidity is quite high during the whole year and annual precipitation averages about 1,000 millimetres (39 in). The ventilation is poor throughout the year and this increases the rate of pollution.
The Castello Sforzesco, ancient residence of the House of Sforza.
In the stereotypical image, the city is often shrouded in the heavy fog characteristic of cold seasons in the Po Basin, although the removal of rice paddies from the southern neighborhoods, the urban heat island effect and the reduction of pollution from factories have reduced this phenomenon in recent years, at least in the city centre, although pollution is still very high. Wind is generally absent. In spring, though, gale-force windstorms can happen, generated either by Tramontana blowing from the Alps or by Bora-like winds from northeast.
Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
There are few remains of the ancient Roman colony that later became a capital of the Western Roman Empire. During the second half of the 4th century, Saint Ambrose, as bishop of Milan, had a strong influence on the layout of the city, redesigning the centre (although the cathedral and baptistery built at this time are now lost) and building the great basilicas at the city gates: Sant'Ambrogio, San Nazaro in Brolo, San Simpliciano and Sant'Eustorgio, which still stand, refurbished over the centuries, as some of the finest and most important churches in Milan. The largest and most important example of Gothic architecture in Italy, the Milan Cathedral, is the fourth largest cathedral in the world after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Cathedral of Seville and a new cathedral in the Ivory Coast. Built between 1386 and 1577, it hosts the world's largest collection of marble statues with the widely visible golden Madonna statue on top of the spire, nicknamed by the people of Milan as Madunina (the little Madonna), that became one of the symbols of the city.
The Chiaravalle Abbey, founded in 1135
In the second half of the fifteenth century, when the Sforza ruled the city, the old Visconti fortress was enlarged and embellished to became the Castello Sforzesco: the seat of an elegant Renaissance court surrounded by a walled hunting park stocked with game captured around the Seprio and Lake Como. Notable architects involved in the project included the Florentine Filarete, who was commissioned to build the high central entrance tower, and the military specialist Bartolomeo Gadio. The political alliance between Francesco Sforza and the Florence of Cosimo de' Medici bore architectural fruit, as Milanese building came under the influence of Brunelleschian models of Renaissance architecture. The first notable buildings to show this Tuscan influence were a palazzo built to house the Medici Bank (of which only the main entrance survives) and the centrally planned Portinari Chapel, attached to Sant’Eustorgio and built for the first manager of the bank's Milan branch. Filarete, while in Milan, was responsible for the great public hospital known as the Ospedale Maggiore, and also for an influential Treatise on Architecture, which included a plan for a star-shaped ideal city called Sforzinda in honour of Francesco Sforza and passionately argued for the centrally planned form.
The Peace Arch, erected in 1807 by Napoleon in Neoclassical style.
Leonardo da Vinci, who was in Milan from around 1482 until the fall of the city to the French in 1499, was commissioned in 1487 to design a tiburio, or crossing tower for the cathedral, although he was not chosen to build it. However, the enthusiasm he shared with Filarete for the centrally-planned building gave rise in this period to numerous architectural drawings [pictured], which were influential in the work of Donato Bramante and others. Bramante's work in the city, which included Santa Maria presso San Satiro (a reconstruction of a small 9th-century church), the beautiful luminous tribune of Santa Maria delle Grazie and three cloisters for Sant'Ambrogio, drew also on his studies of the Early Christian architecture of Milan such as the Basilica of San Lorenzo.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: interior view
The Counter-Reformation was also the period of Spanish domination and was marked by two powerful figures: Saint Charles Borromeo and his cousin, Cardinal Federico Borromeo. Not only did they impose themselves as moral guides to the people of Milan, but they also gave a great impulse to culture, with the creation of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, in a building designed by Francesco Maria Ricchino, and the nearby Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. Many notable churches and Baroque mansions were built in the city during this period by the architects, Pellegrino Tibaldi, Galeazzo Alessi and Ricchino himself.
The iconic Velasca Tower, built in 1958
Empress Maria Theresa of Austria was responsible for the significant renovations carried out in Milan during the 18th century. She instigated profound social and civil reforms, as well as the construction of many of the buildings that still today constitute the pride of the city, like the Teatro alla Scala, inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and today one of the world's most famous opera houses. The annexed Museo Teatrale alla Scala contains a collection of paintings, drafts, statues, costumes, and other documents regarding opera and La Scala's history. La Scala also hosts the Ballet School of the Teatro alla Scala. The Austrian sovereign also promoted culture in Milan through projects such as converting the ancient Jesuit College, in the district of Brera, into a scientific and cultural centre with a Library, an astronomic observatory and the botanical gardens, in which the Art Gallery and the Academy of Fine Arts are today placed side by side. Milan was also widely affected by the Neoclassical movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, transforming its architectural style.
Milano Centrale railway station.
Napoleon Bonaparte's rule of the city in the early 19th century produced several fine Neoclassical edifices and palaces. Many of these are located in the Corso Venezia district, including the Villa Reale, or often called the Villa del Belgiojoso (not related to the Palazzo Begiojoso). It is situated on Via Palestro and near to the Giardini Pubblici and it was constructed by Leopoldo Pollak in 1790. It housed the Bonaparte family, mainly Josephine Bonaparte, but also several others, such as Count Joseph Radetzky von Radetz and Eugène de Beauharnais. It is often regarded as one of the best types of Neoclassical architecture in Milan and Lombardy and is surrounded by an English landscape garden. Today, it hosts the Galleria d'Arte Contemporanea (English: Gallery of Contemporary Art) and it is lavishly decorated inside with ornate classical columns, vast halls, marble statues and crystal chandeliers. The Palazzo Belgiojoso was also a grand Napoleonic residence and one of the finest examples of Milanese Neoclassical architecture.
The Parco delle Basiliche, near the Basilica of San Lorenzo. Opened in 1934, it is one of the city's major parks, and it has an area of 40,700 square metres
Another major example of Neoclassical architecture in the city includes the Palazzo Tarsis, built by Luigi Clerichetti for the Count Paolo Tarsis in 1834, which has an ornate façade. There are also several other important Neoclassical monuments in the city include the Arco della Pace or the Arch of Peace, sometimes called the Arco Sempione (Sempione Arch) and is situated in Piazza Sempione right at the end of the Parco Sempione. It is often compared to a miniature version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The work on the arch began in 1806 under Napoleon I and it was designed by Luigi Cagnola. Just like with the Arc de Triomphe, Napoleon's 1826 defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, halted the construction of the monumental arch, but Emperor Franz Josef (Francis Joseph) I of Austria ordered it to be completed, also as an honour to the Vienna Congress and peace treaty of 1815. It was completed by Francesco Peverelli on 10 September 1838. Another noted Neoclassical building in the city is the Palazzo del Governo, constructed in 1817 by Piero Gilardoni.
Milan Stock Exchange, Italy's main.
In the second half of the 19th century, Milan assumed the status of main industrial city of the peninsula and drew inspiration from other European capitals, center of those technological innovations that constituted the symbol of the second industrial revolution and, consequently, of the great social change that had been put in motion. The great Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a covered passage that connects Piazza del Duomo, Milan to the square opposite of La Scala, was built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877 to celebrate Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of united Italy. The passage is covered over by an arching glass and cast iron roof, a popular design for 19th-century arcades, such as the Burlington Arcade, London, which was the prototype for larger glazed shopping arcades, beginning with the Saint-Hubert Gallery in Brussels and the Passazh in St Petersburg. Another late 19th century eclectic monument in the city is the Cimitero Monumentale (literally, "Monumental Cemetery or graveyard"), which is found in the Stazione district of the city and was built in a Neo-Romanesque style by several architects from 1863 to 1866.
Armour of Sigismondo Malatesta, ca. 1460-65.
The tumultuous period of the 20th century also brought several innovations in architecture. Art Nouveau, also known as Liberty in Italy, started to develop in the city during the early part of the century; alongside other major Italian cities, most notably Palermo and Turin, the style became highly popular at the start of the century, and it produced several notable buildings in the city. Art Nouveau developed its own, individual style known as "Liberty Milanese" (Milanese Art Nouveau), which, in many aspects, was similar to the style of the Vienna Secession. Possibly one of the most notable Art Nouveau edfices in Milan is the Palazzo Castiglioni in Corso Venezia, which was built by architect Giuseppe Sommaruga between 1901 and 1904. Other noted Art Nouveau-style buildings in the city include the Hotel Corso or the Berri-Meregalli house, the latter which was built in a traditional Milanese Art Nouveau style combined with elements of neo-Romanesque and Gothic revial architecture, and is regarded as one of the last types of Art Nouveau architecture in the city. In 1906, with the Universal Exposition, which was held in Milan, the city was able to exhibit its Art Nouveau works, and it was considered the official style of the exposition. Nonetheless, as the century progressed, other styles started to be explored, including neo-Romanesque, eclectic and Gothic revival architecture, and Art Nouveau started falling out of fashion by c. 1913, when the official season was closed by Sommaragua. A new, more eclectic, form of architecture can be seen in buildings such as the Castello Cova, built the 1910s in a distinctly neo-medieval style, evoking the architectural trends of the past. A later form of Art Nouveau, as well as Art Deco, started to arise, especially as one can see in the city's Central Station (Stazione Centrale), which blended such styles with Fascist architecture. The post–World War II period of reconstruction saw rapid economic growth that was accompanied by an increase in the population and the founding of new districts, but also for the strong drive for architectural renewal, has produced some of the milestones in the city's architectural history including Gio Ponti's Pirelli Tower (1956–60), the Velasca Tower (1956–58), the creation of new residential districts and, in recent years, the construction of the new exhibition centre in Rho and the urban renewal of once industrial areas, that have been transformed into modern residential districts and services.
Monument to Alessandro Manzoni in Milan.
Parks and gardens
Despite the fact that Milan has a very small amount of green space in comparison to other cities of the same size, the city does boast a wide variety of parks and gardens. The first public parks were established 1857 and 1862, and were designed by Giuseppe Balzaretto. They were situated in a "green park district", found in the areas of Piazzale Oberdan (Porta Venezia), Corso Venezia, Via Palestro and Via Manin. Most of them were landscaped in a Neoclassical style and represented traditional English gardens, often full of botanic richness. Since 1990 Milan is surrounded by the regional Parco Agricolo Sud Milano that wraps the southern half of the city, connecting Ticino Park in the west and Adda Park in the east. The Park was instituted in order to safeguard and enhance the old agricultural landscape and activities, woodlands and natural reserves, with an overall size of 47,000 hectares.
The St. Ambrose Basilica, one of the city's most important and oldest churches.
The most important parks in Milan are the set of adjacent parks in the western area of the city forming Parco Agricolo Sud Milano (Parco delle Cave, 131 hectares; Boscoincittà, 110 hectares; and Trenno Park, 59 hectares, whose total area amounts to about 300 hectares), Sempione Park, Parco Forlanini, Giardini Pubblici, Giardino della Villa Comunale, Giardini della Guastalla and Lambro Park. Sempione Park is a large public park, situated between the Castello Sforzesco and the Peace Arch, near Piazza Sempione. It was built by Emilio Alemagna, and contains a Napoleonic Arena, the Milan City Aquarium, a tower, an art exhibition centre, some ponds and a library. Then there is Parco Forlani, which, with a size of 235 hectares is the largest park in Milan, and contains a hill and a pond. Giardini Pubblici is among Milan's oldest remaining public parks, founded on 29 November 1783, and completed around 1790. It is landscaped in English style, containing a pond, a Natural History Museum of Milan and the Neoclassical Villa Reale. Giardini della Guastalla is also one of the oldest gardens in Milan, and consists mainly of a decorated fish pond.
The Politecnico di Milano main building
Milan also hosts three important botanical gardens: the Milan University Experimental Botanical Garden (a small botanical garden operated by the Istituto di Scienze Botaniche), the Brera Botanical Garden (another botanical garden, founded in 1774 by Fulgenzio Witman, an abbot under the orders of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, and restored in 1998 after several years of abandonment) and the Cascina Rosa Botanical Garden. On January 23, 2003, a Garden of the Righteous was established in Monte Stella to commemorate those who opposed genocides and crimes against humankind. It hosts trees dedicated to Moshe Bejski, Andrei Sakharov, the founders of the Gardens of the Righteous in Yerevan and Pietro Kuciukian, and others. The decision to commemorate a "Righteous" person in this Garden is made every year by a commission of high-profile characters.
The central building of University of Milan, built in the Renaissance as the city hospital: the Ospedale Maggiore.
Milan is one of Italy's most important railway hubs for local, national and international routes. Five major railway stations in Milan, among which the Milan Central station, are among Italy's busiest. Since the end of 2009, two High speed train lines link Milan to Rome, Naples and Turin considerably shortening travel times with other major cities in Italy. The Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM) operates within the metropolitan area, managing a public transport network consisting of an underground rapid transit network and tram, trolley-bus and bus lines. Overall the network covers nearly 1,400 km (870 mi) reaching 86 municipalities. Besides public transport, ATM manages the interchange parking lots and other transportation services including bike sharing and car sharing systems.
The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart courtyard.
Milan Metro is the rapid transit system serving the city, with 3 lines and a total length of more than 80 km (50 mi). Two additional lines are currently under construction. The Suburban Railway Service Lines comprises 10 lines and connects the metropolitan area with the city centre through the Milan Passerby underground railway. The city tram network consists of approximately 160 kilometres (99 mi) of track and 17 lines. Bus lines cover over 1,070 km (665 mi). Milan is also served taxi service operated by private companies and licensed by the City council of Milan. The city is also a key node for the national road network, being served by all the major highways of Northern Italy.
The internal court of Brera Academy.
Milan is served by three international airports. The Malpensa International Airport, the second busiest in Italy (about 19 million passengers in 2010), is 45 km (28 mi) from central Milan and connected to the city by the "Malpensa Express" railway service. The Linate Airport, which lies within the city limits, is mainly used for domestic and short-haul international flights, and served over 9 million passengers in 2010. The airport of Orio al Serio, near the city of Bergamo, serves the low-cost traffic of Milan (8 million passengers in 2010).
Milan Malpensa international airport.