THE BRERA PALACE AND THE DISTRICT
Personalized visits for small groups
The Palace itself is exceptional; it was constructed from 1591 as a Jesuit theology college, and greatly extended by the architect Richini from 1651. Under the rule of Maria Teresa of Austria, in the 18th century the Jesuit order was suppressed, and the building became the seat for various schools of learning. It now houses several cultural institutions such as Art Academy, Art Gallery, Botanic Garden, the Astronomical Observatory and the important National Braidense Library. In the first courtyard, a statue of Napoleon by Antonio Canova depicts the emperor naked, with a Winged Victory in his right hand.
The Brera Palace hosts one of the finest galleries for Medieval and Renaissance Italian art. It was greatly extended between 1805 and 1811, when the new French rulers of the city confiscated works from churches and monasteries, and installed them here, building an extension to house them. Famous works include Raphael’s “Marriage of the Virgin”, Piero della Francesca’s altarpiece, and Mantegna’s Dead Christ in dramatic foreshortening. There is a Last Supper by Rubens, in which the eyes of Judas seem to follow you as you move through the room, and the ultra-romantic “Kiss” is by Francesco Hayez, who was so celebrated in Milan during his time (the 19th-century) that he is commemorated with a statue in Piazzetta Brera.
The National Braidense Library
In 1770, Maria Theresa of Austria, considering that Milan needed “an open library for the common use of anyone who wants to cultivate his mind, and acquire new knowledge“, decided to assign the library of Pertusati to the public use and open it in 1786. The tour includes the beautiful Maria Theresa Hall with its remarkable bookshelves which were designed by the architect Giuseppe Piermarini. They are made of walnut and are composed by two distinct orders with a continuous balcony. A portrait of the Empress painted by Agostino Comerio hangs at the entrance.
The Botanic Garden
As desired by Maria Teresa of Austria, it was instituted two and a half centuries ago behind the Palace, with the intention of having a dedicated space for gardening, horticulture, cultivation of medicinal plants, meditation and contemplation.
The Astronomical Observatory
The most ancient scientific institution in Milan, founded in 1764 by Luigi La Grange and Giuseppe Ruggiero Boscovich actually is a museum. A second site, located at Villa San Rocco in Merate, Brianza, became operational in 1923, and now is one of the top level research institutes in the world.
Further recommended itinerary
The Palace is located in the Brera District, which was once the turf of artists. There is still a number of private galleries and arts supply stores in Via Brera, Via del Carmine, Piazza San Simpliciano, and Via Solferino. In addition, Brera Design Discrict is now an international famous brand, and during the Milan Design Week it offers hundreds of exhibitions and fashionable events.
The basilica of San Simpliciano is a must-see. Founded by Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, in the 4th century, the basilica was at that time outside the city walls, at a location notorious for prostitution. For this reason, Ambrose dedicated the church to virgins, and named it Basilica Virginum. After Ambrose’s death, it was finished by his successor Simplicianus, who is buried here.
See link: Basilica of San Simpliciano
The cost includes: the tour description by an expert.
- Duration of this additional itinerary = 2 hours approx
- Cost for a total of 4 hours of visit: € 460 up to 5 people; 500 € for 6 to 10 people + tickets entrance ( 12€ per person )
- a tour description by an expert
What’s not included
- tickets entrance ( 12€ per person )
- Transport to reach the meeting point.
- Foods and beverages unless otherwise specified.
- Tips (optional).
- Personal extras
Meeting 15 minutes before the entrance time to Brera Palace, in Piazzetta Brera - to the right of the entrance to the Museum, near the Francesco Hayez statue