If I can only use one word to describe Milan, “extravagance” is the most appropriate word. From the exquisite Duomo to the opulent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, extravagance shapes life in this Italy’s metropolis.
Flanked by the Alps and the Po Valley, Milan was founded by Celtic tribes in the 7th century BC. Since then, the area has been continuously inhabited thanks to its flat terrain and close proximity to the lakes. Until the 16th century, Milan was governed by Italian dynasties, including the Torrianis, Visconti, and finally, the Sforzas.
After that, the city fell under Spanish rule in 1525 and Austrian rule in 1713. Today, Milan is Italy’s second-largest city and the economic backbone of the country as it houses various industries and the nation’s stock exchange. It is also a global capital of fashion and design alongside Paris, London, and New York.
1. Milan Cathedral
There is hardly anything in Milan that is more extravagant than the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral). Like a diamond tiara, the Gothic cathedral with all its spires and 3400 statues is the focal point of attraction. Though having a white appearance, the marvelous structure at the heart of Milan is actually made of pink marble from Candoglia and it took nearly 600 years to complete.
In the beginning, the project was considered unfeasible because there was no way to transport vast quantities of marble to the city center. Canals had to be dug and new technologies were invented to perform a never-before-attempted task. Therefore, Milan Duomo presents not only extravagance but also reflects the creativity and ambition of this city.
2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
For any shopaholic, Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II might be equal to St.Peter’s Dome in Rome. Together with the Duomo, it is the city’s icon and an essential part of any trip to Milan. Constructed in the early 19th century, the Galleria is one of the oldest shopping arcades in the world (beginning with the Saint-Hubert Gallery in Brussels, the Passazh in Saint Petersburg, and the Galleria Umberto I in Naples). However, it has surpassed its predecessors in terms of scale and opulence.
Walking into the Galleria is stepping into the world of high fashion. From Milan’s iconic brand Prada to Versace’s latest gem, you will undoubtedly be struck by their extravagant boutiques. The Galleria is also home to several historic stores, cáfe, and restaurants, such as the bookstore Bocca, the Biffi Càffee, and the Savini restaurants.
3. Sforzesco Castle
Though not as extravagant as the aforementioned attractions, the Sforzesco Castle is still a sight to behold. Originally built as a fortification in the 14th century, the castle features massive gates, high walls, and three impressive watchtowers. The main gate leads to an expansive courtyard that is embraced by beautiful loggias.
Throughout its history, the castle underwent several renovations. The first one dates back to the 15th century when the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, transformed it into a magnificent residence. Hence, the name Sforzesco. Years later, under the domination of the Spanish, the castle switched back to its former role as a fortress. The Spanish even enlarged it, turning the structure into one of Europe’s largest citadels at the time. These days, the castle becomes an art museum and a landmark in Milan.
Tips for visiting Milan
- Both Duomo and Galleria are located exactly in the city center. Easily accessible by Metro 1 and 3 – Station: Duomo.
- A visit to the Duomo costs only 2€ (including the admission to the Crypt) but it might take some time as the queue is long. However, the line moves relatively fast.
- The lift to the cathedral’s terrace costs 13€. The ticket office is on the right of Duomo’s main entrance. You can also reach the terrace on foot. Admission price: 9€.
28 thoughts on “Milan: A Glimpse into the City of Extravagance”
Impressive photos! Actually this is the first time I saw the exterior of Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, as the previous images I saw were always taken from inside the gallery. For a second I thought it was a Transformer inside the Duomo, until I noticed the man on top of it. I guess he was cleaning the sculptures?
Correct! He was also replacing the lamp. I can still remember because he broke a bulb 🙂 A free echo test.
Extravagant is definitely the right word. Did you go onto the roof of the Duomo? It’s so intricate and detailed, and presumably back in the day, not that many people would be going up there! Now of course they have concerts and stuff up there, which I wish I could’ve seen the last time I was in Milan!
Unfortunately not 🙁 It was raining during my visit. The sun only came out at the last minute so I could not make it. I have to redo it! 🙂
Definitely next time!
Regardless weather, I will climb the roof next time 🙂
I agree that visiting the roof of the Duomo is one of the best things to do in Milan <3
Thanks for this very nice post! It makes me want to go there. Great photos as usual as well 🙂
Thanks a lot! 🙂
Lovely photos, as usual 😉 I hope that you don’t mind if I make you notice this: it’s Vittorio Emanuele (only one L), that was the name of the king 🙂
Oops, my bad 🙂 Thank you for letting me know
Great post Len.
Thank you, Francesca 🙂
It really is extravagant. And pretty.
It is indeed 🙂
Great report, nice photographs
I wanted to do exactly this when I go… hmm I have been googling Milan and it seems like that’s what everyone does (everyone who only has a limited time to spend there). I love the photos by night…
Thank you, Jolene 🙂 If you have a few more hours to spend, you can check out the opera (just walk through the Galleria and you will find it at the exist) or the Last Supper in a nearby church (forgot the name of it 🙂 )
Um… that’s exactly what I would have done if I had more time. It seems like Milan is pretty predictable 😜
Besides Duomo and the Galleria, are there anything else to see in Milan?
Well, there are Leonardo’s Last Supper in the Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Sforza castle, the Opera house and the vibrant Navigly area 😁
i was here today 😀
Nice! How was it? I hope you had a great summer soltice 🙂
Really extravagance, great work👍🏻
Thank you! 🙂
Beautiful and really impressive photos. Europe is filled with beautiful and grand architecture. I have seen few countries in Europe it gets beautiful with every visit.
Indeed. Thanks for your compliment! 🙂
I have never heard of the Sforzesco Castle before. So fascinating and impressive!