BASILICA OF SAN SIMPLICIANO AND GRANDE CHIOSTRO
Personalized visits for small groups
Saint Ambrose, bishop of Milan in the 4th century, founded this Basilica of San Simpliciano outside the city walls, at a location notorious for prostitution. For this reason, Ambrose dedicated the church to virgins, and named it Basilica Virginum. The enormous ashlars’ blocks in the lower parts of the walls are original late 4th century, when, after Ambrose’s death, the construction was finished by his successor Saint Simplician, who is buried here. During the following times, the Basilica and its monastery had several expansions and restorations. Some roof tiles bearing the mark of Lombard king Agilulf show that repairs were made in the years 590-615 A.D. In the 9th century the Cluniac Benedictines took possession of the nearby monastery. Much of the actual brickwork (not all) can be dated to rebuilding in the 12th century, in the Romanesque style, when the original walls were preserved to a height of 22 meters. In 1508, behind the altar, a fine fresco of the Coronation of the Virgin was painted by the Renaissance artist Bergognone. The facade is influenced by a restoration of the 1800s. The three portals are divided by semi-columns which had to support a large atrium which doesn’t exist anymore.
In 1517, the monastery was entrusted to the Benedictines of Montecassino and they started great innovations. In particular, in 1560, they projected the must-see Grande Chiostro (Great Cloister, today the seat of the Theological Faculty) (Prenotazioni per visite allo 02863181) formed by a series of coupled columns of the Doric order with a fake upper loggia. The monks remained here until 1798, when the convent was secularized and for a some years turned into barracks.
The Basilica is remarkable above all for the wonderful atmosphere of peace produced by an interior that has remained much the same for 1700 years or so. There are two lovely organs with frescoed decorations, often played for baroque music concerts.
Further recommended itinerary
The Brera Palace and the District
Strolling along typical Milanese streets, it is possible to discover the Brera District and pay a visit to the Brera Palace, which hosts one of the finest galleries for Medieval and Renaissance Italian art. On show, extraordinary paintings by Raffaello, Piero della Francesca, Mantegna, Rubens, Hayez. Inside the same palace The National Braidense Library, The Botanic Garden, The Astronomical Observatory are all worth a visit.
- Duration of this additional itinerary = 3 hours approx
- Cost for a total of 4 hours of visit: € 460 up to 5 people; 500 € for 6 to 10 people
- a tour description by an expert
What’s not included
- tickets entrance
- Transport to reach the meeting point.
- Foods and beverages unless otherwise specified.
- Tips (optional).
- Personal extras
Departurepiazza san simpliciano
Meeting 15 minutes before the entrance time to San Simpliciano , in Piazza San Simpliciano near the left entrance door