The Basilica of San Nazaro in Brolo or San Nazaro Maggiore is one of the four basilicas founded by Sant’Ambrogio in the 4th century and is the oldest church in the West to have a Latin cross plan, thus inaugurating a new architectural typology that will have a very wide success.
The Ambrosian dedication recalls it as Basilica Apostolorum and in fact inside it are kept, in addition to the relics of Saint Nazaro, also those of the apostles Andrea, Giovanni and Tommaso.
From the early Christian period, in addition to the general structure of the building, some inscriptions and parts of the floor remain, while other remains are collected in the small but splendid museum of the basilica. In 1075 a fire devastated the building, which was promptly rebuilt and embellished with new decorative cycles; from the medieval period there are still traces of fresco in the small basilica of San Lino, inside the perimeter of San Nazaro, some fourteenth-century bas-reliefs, one of which can be attributed to Bonino da Campione and other frescoes dating back to the 13th-15th century.
In 1513 work began on the unique Trivulzio Chapel, located at the entrance to the basilica, in place of the ancient four-sided portico in front of the entrance: it was erected as Mausoleum of Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, leader on behalf of Louis XII of France, occupier of Milan after the fall of the Sforza and realized by Bartolomeo Suardi known as Bramantino, of which it is the only known architectural realization. The interior of the chapel, within which an equestrian monument of Leonardo da Vinci should never have been placed, is arranged on three levels and is enriched with mullioned windows, sarcophaguses and remains of fresco that give it a strong monumental impact.
In 1571 Carlo Borromeo almost completely rearranged the interior of the basilica to adapt it to the new directives of the Counter-Reformation and radically changed its appearance. This period dates back to some decorative interventions, some by Luini. Strongly modified in the Baroque and Neoclassical period, the basilica today is at the same time a cross-section of the past centuries and testimony of excellence in ancient Milan.
- Entrance to the church and museum
- Booking practices
- 90-minute guided tour conducted by a guide with regular professional licence.
What’s not included
- Transportation to reach the meeting point
- Food and drink unless otherwise specified
- Tips (optional)
- Personal extras
DepartureLargo Francesco Richini, 7 - Milano
Meeting 15 minutes before the start of the guided tour