Unlike the church of San'Eustorgio, the museum is open all through the day. It's the only way to visit the Portinari chapel and you will pay 6 euro for entrance (2011).
The museum is partially housed in what was once the Dominican monastery associated with the church.
Just after the entrance desk, on the left, you'll see some steps...do go down them, for they lead to an excavated area of ancient Christian tombs. As well as showing tombs of various different types this little area is particularly interesting for the various grave inscriptions (translated into English) displayed on its walls. Such things help one to get in touch with real people who really lived in the past.....
Then on through the Medieval monastery Chapter House with its rather lovely stone statue of St Eugenio, dating from the 1200s and still wit some of its original colouring. On through the Sacristy, full of silver relic containers and church artefacts before reaching 3 chapels: the St Paul's/Annunciation/Saachi chapel (frescoes from 1620), the Chapel of St Francis (with a 13th-century fresco) and the Portinarui chapel itself.
Built between 1462 and 1468 for the Florentine banker Pigello Portinari, it has lovely frescoes by Vincenzo Foppa showing scenes from the lives of St Peter and the Virgin Mary. The tomb within, beautifully sculpted by di Balduccio in 1388, houses the remains of St Peter the Martyr.
It's a pretty place, and one worth visiting (although if you are not interested in the ancient Christian excavation as well then perhaps 6 euro is a bit steep? ) I especially liked the multi-coloured 'scales' painted within the dome of the Portinari Chapel.
Sant'Eustorgio is another originally 4th-century church, supposedly housing the bones of the Magi (the 'Wide Men' of the Nativity story) which St Ambrose brought to Milan.
The church was rebuilt in the 1000s, and then almost destroyed in the 1100s by Barbarossa, who stole the bones and took them to cologne. Some were later returned, and are kept in a truly enormous stone sarcophagus inside the church (see photos).
It's a pleasant church, and the sarcophagus is amazing, but to see the Portinari Chapel (and other things) you have to go next door to a separate entrance and pay 6 euro to enter the Basilica museum. See tip below....
Leonardo da Vinci thought this church to be the most beautiful in Mialn. i'm not sure I agree, but it is very lovely.
St Ambrose founded 4 churches in the city during the 300s, and this is one of them. It was partially constructed using the remnants of Roman masonry throughout the city...including the rather random row of Roman columns which stand outside the church and give it its name. They've been there since the 300s...imagine!
The building you can visit now is a 16th-century reconstruction of the 11th-century version. It's octagonal inside, and really rather lovely. See if you can spot the inverted roman column, its capital now serving as its base...a deliberate symbol of the power Christianity held over earthly authorities.
But the highlight for me was the Cappella di San Aquilino, to the side of the main church interior. You have to pay to visit (2 euro) but it is most definitely worthwhile. Probably originally built as an Imperial mausoleum its niches and arches contain the remains of beautiful 4th-century mosaics. Such things are not commonplace, so pay your 2 euro and visit them.
And whilst you are visiting the Cappella do go down the steps behind the relics of San Aquilino to see the original Roman foundations.
To the rear of San Lorenzo is the Piazza del Vetra, where public executions occurred until the 1500s. From there you can clearly see the mish-mash of building styles and sections which make up San Lorenzo.
Highly recommended...but be aware that, like many in Milan, the church will probably be closed during the early afternoon (roughly 12-3).
Founded in the 4th century, San Lorenzo Maggiore Church was at the time one of the largest buildings in the west. The foundations were made of enormous blocks taken from other Roman sites and the interior was decorated with marble along the lower half and mosaics up higher.
The church was rebuilt in the 11th century and heavily renovated in the 16th century. The church was restored in the 1930s.
I learned this from our tour guide during our Grande Bus Tour of Milan. But we have seen this church while exploring Milan on foot as most of the tourist spots are within walking distance from our hotel!
Outside the church you could see massive columns as well! They seem to form part of the church perimeter.
This place was teeming with locals when we arrived after our first cruise from Venice! We had to stay for 3 days before our second cruise and we spent a lot of time passing her and even sitting at the square soaking the local atmosphere! Milanians are very relaxed and modern compared to the Venetians. We prefer them actually as they are also friendlier and less conscious unlike their counterparts in Venice!
The square is defined by the statue of San Lorenzo Maggiore.
Opposite Basilica San Lorenzo are 16 Corinthian columns standing in a row. They date from the 2nd or 3rd century and were part of a hedonic temple built by the Romans. They have been moved and were places in their present location already in the 4th century. The columns are 8,5 metres high.
San Lorenzo dates from the 4th century and stones from a nearby Roman amphitheatre were used in the construction. It has been rebuilt after fires, but a large part of the walls and three of the chapels are from the 4th century. The dome, which is the largest in Milan, was rebuilt in 1573, after it had collapsed. Attached to the main building are other buildings from different periods.
I didn’t visit Cappella de Sant’ Aquilino and now I regret it as it contains some very fine mosaics, and I love mosaics. Admission to the chapel was 2 Euro (February 2009) and it was closed as I arrived, but soon a man came and asked if I wanted to see the chapel. Then I said no and continued my tour of the church.
The church is open between 8.30 - 12.30 and 14.30 - 18.30.
San Lorenzo alle Colonne is one of the oldest central-plan churches of western christianity. Built in the 4th century, it went through numerous renovations and today has a sixteenth century style in features such as the dome. However, it still has its original plan, the main walls and three chapels.
Sixteen ancient Roman columns that line the front of this sanctuary belonged to some unidentified temple and were moved here in the 4th century.
San Lorenzo Basilica was built between the end of 4th century and the beginning of the 5th century using materials from the close by Roman theater.
It is said that the project of the church has its origins in Byzantium and the features of the oriental art can be seen inside.
One of the most beautiful chapel of the church is Sant’Aquilino Chapel with its mosaic presenting the Christ surrounded by the Apostles, one of the finest examples of the paleochristian art from northern Italy.
A pure example of the Renaissance style, Cappella Portinari (Portinari Chapel) was commissioned by Pigello Portinari in 1462 and finished in the year of his death 1468.
Vincenzo Foppa's wonderful frescoes high up on the walls, were discovered in 1878 and restored at the beginning 20th century.
In the center of the chapel, stands the famous tomb of St. Peter Martyr, built by Giovanni di Balduccio, a follower of the great Pisan Innovator, Giovanni Pisano, between 1336 and 1339.
The tomb, which in 1734 was moved from the left nave of the Basilica to the Portinari Chapel, is made of a white marble urn supported by eight statues of Virtues resting on them.
The bas-relief decorations present scenes from life of St. Peter Martyr.
From the first moment I saw it, Sant'Eustorgio became one of my favorite sites in Milan.
Commissioned by Bishop Eustorgio II in 515 the church was almost completely damaged in 1164 by Frederik Barbarossa. He was also the one who took the Roman sarcophagus supposed to contain the relics of three Magi to Cologne.
The reconstruction works started in 1190 and last several centuries.
The typical Lombard bell tower was built between 1297 and 1309 and in the 15th century was added the beautiful Renaissance style Portinari Chapel.
Beaside this other beautiful chapels can be found in the church: Brivio with the tombs of Giacomo Stefano Brivio, Torelli Chapel with the Gothic arc on twisted columns used as Pietro Torelli's sepulcher or Visconti Chapel with the tomb of Stefano Visconti, a gothic masterpiece by Giovanni di Balduccio.
The beautiful marble altar, although unfinished, is decorated with scenes of Passion of Christ.
The columns which can be found today in front of San Lorenzo church are dating from 2nd-3rd centuries and are remains of a pagan temple which once stood on that site.
The columns are 8.5 m high and are of Corinthian style.
On both sides the columns row are finished by an arch, out of which the southern one is contemporary.
The sixteen columns of the 2nd century AD still standing in front of the basilica of San Lorenzo are the most important Roman remains in Milan.
They were part of a temple (or perhaps even a public baths complex), and were transported here in the 4th century AD to form the front side of a four-sided portico.
Sant'Eustorgio was commissioned in 515 by Bishop Eustorgio II who had it built over the site of an even older 4th century building put up during the time of Bishop Eustorgio I.
At the end of the 11th century the church was rebuilt in the plain Romanesque style and thus it remained until Frederick Barbarossa caused its almost complete destruction in 1164.
In 1190 reconstruction was undertaken, which would last several centuries. The 15th century brought the southside chapels and a gem of Renaissance architecture, the Portinari Chapel.
The church contains so many art treasures it might well be called a museum: the Brivio Chapel by the brothers Francesco and Tommaso Cazzaniga, the Briosco and the Torelli Chapel with the Gothic arch on twisted columns are two noteworthy examples, the Visconti Chapel is a Gothic masterpiece by Giovanni di Balduccio, the frescoes decorating the chapel bear Tuscan influence, namely that of Giotto, and finally the Portinari Chapel which is a blend of the finest Tuscan architecture with the painting of Vincenzo Foppa.
Porta Ticinese is definetely one of the most unusual remains of the circle of walls put up in 1171 following Barbarossa's destruction of the city and then rebuilt by Azzone Visconti after 1329, although its present appearance is due to a 19th century restoration project.
The gate is formed by a great central arch with towers on either side, which in 1861 were opened by two pointed arches. Like every other Milanese gate, Porta Ticinese has been eyewitness to history; after having been assigned to Pavia by Barbarossa in 1162, the gate was scene of the murky events and sly plotting of the Visconti family.