Did you know that there are numerous remains of the past of Milan underground? Some of them can now be visited thanks to small museums or simply to the construction of infrastructures such as the metro stations, when they were found while digging.
Our itinerary takes you to discover some of the great masterpieces of the Milanese art and architecture, giving you the chance to jump back in time.
We leave from the church of St. Lawrence (San Lorenzo alle Colonne), a rare example of a central church, whose perimeter walls still show traces of the early Christian building. In front of its façade there are 16 Roman columns of unknown origin, that allow us to speak of the history of Mediolanum, i.e. the ancient capital of the Western Roman Empire. We enter the church and after noticing its complex architecture, we head to the Chapel of Sant’Aquilino, dating back to the fifth century AD. Here we admire not only its architecture – still original – but also the remains of mosaics with gold and colored stones, as well as some frescoes that let us imagine the opulence and grandeur of the ancient building. Going underground, we find a small room, with stones, capitels and other rests used to build the foundations of the chapel itself. Then we go around the perimeter of the church, where the stratification of the various building stages emerges.
We continue our itinerary heading to the Missori Square, first we admire the remains that came to light during the construction of the Yellow Underground Line of Milan, as well as a short section of the Decumanus Maximus, a sign of the importance of the neighborhood here, and a reconstructed section of sewer pipes dating back to the Roman times.
Crossing the square we find the remains of an apse, i.e. that of the church of San Giovanni in Conca, the only remaining portion of it. Many Milanese still do not know that it hides one of the best preserved crypts in Lombardy, as well as a small museum with remains of ancient statues and decorations, a treasure to be discovered.
Finally we reach the Duomo Square. First of all, we enter the Cathedral to visit the underground museum, where we find the remains of the Baptistery of St. John ad Fontes, wanted by Ambrose, bishop and future patron of the city, at the end of the IV century. It was a magnificent, octagonal building, completely decorated with mosaics, today we can only admire its basic layout, with the baptismal font and the rests of some ancient decoration. Furthermore we find the remains of the apse of the ancient Basilica of Santa Tecla, also dating back to the 4th century, an important 5-nave early-Christian building, as well as tombs, rests of frescoes and other decorations that show the complicated architectural stratification of the area around the Duomo Cathedral.
Last but not least, we reach the Duomo Underground Station to admire some of the vestiges found during its construction, including part of an interesting mosaic floor belonging to the Basilica of Santa Tecla.
Do you like the history and would you like to jump back in time? Book our tour “Underground Milan”, and you will be fascinated by the treasures that are still hidden under Milan, the World Capital City of Fashion and Design.