Dating from the 1100s, on the site of the earlier church where St Ambrose preached and converted St Augustine, it is simply lovely.
You reach the church through a courtyard with columns, their capitals carved with the most wonderful Medieval foliage and creatures both imaginary and real. Its doorway has superb Celtic-type carved decoration on its pillars; the intricacy of the designs underlining the sheer skill of the master masons who carved them.
Inside the church there is a free-standing Byzantine pillar topped with a bronze serpent. i'd not come across one of these before, but the serpent symbolises Aaron's rod.
The pulpit is also fascinating because its base is an enormous and highly-carved marble Roman sarcophagus, dating from around 385AD, which was once in the original church. The pulpit itself.
There are Medieval frescoes, busts dating from the 900s, wonderful mosaics, Roman porphyry columns supporting tympanums dating from the 400s (renewed in the 800s)......not to mention the crypt which holds not only the body of St Ambrose in its glass coffin but also the bodies of two martyrs (Gervasius and Protasius) lying either side of him...this church is full of wonderful historical architecture and artefacts. So much, in fact, that I've had to make a travelogue here
An absolute must-see, imo/
The atrium is what you see first when you enter Sant' Ambrogio, it is a spacious inner courtyard and you walk through it before you enter the building of the church itself. I had never seen such an atrium before (or if I have, not one in this style), and therefore I was fascinated by the architecture and the atmosphere it created. I found it just so interesting and beautiful.
Before Milan's city walls were built, the atrium was a place where the citizens found protection when the city was attacked.
A very interesting feature are the capitals of the pillars. They show scenes from the bible as well as mythical creatures. Most of them are from the 11th century, and the scenes shown symbolize the fight between good and evil.
Sant' Ambrogio was another beautiful church that we visited in Milan. I was really fascinated by this church and its many interesting features.
The church was constructed from 379 to 386A.D., at a place where an early Christian tomb had been. The bishop responsible for the project was Bishop Ambrosio, hence the name. He was also buried here, and thus the church was named after him. Over the centuries, the church was fundamentally changed: Benedictine monks enlarged it substantially in the 8th century, the atrium was added about a hundred years later and renovated in the 12th century. Further changes were done by the Sforza family in the end of the 15th century.
When you arrive at Sant' Ambrogio, you first walk through the atrium, an enclosed courtyard which is very beautiful (see next tip). You then enter the church itself, which is very spacious and has a very special atmosphere. I enjoyed it very much. I also found the building very interesting because I had never seen a church like this before - so different to churches in Central Europe, the UK or Australia! There were not a lot o tourists here, and it felt very calm and spiritual. Nobody spoke loudly, people just walked around quietly and admired the building. After a strenuous day of sightseeing, it was wonderful to just sit in the church, enjoy the coolness and the quiet, and reflect on our trip and this beautiful building.
As I described in my first tip about Sant' Ambrogio, the church is a very nice place to be, it is beautiful and has a wonderful atmosphere. However, there are also some special features that are worth having a closer look!
Pictures 1, 3 & 4: This is the sarcophagus of Stilicho, said to keep the mortal remains of the Roman General Stilicho. It was created in the 4th century and I found it to be incredibly fascinating - such a beautiful work, and so many fascinating figures and scenes shown! And to think that it is so old!
Picture 2: A fresco of Sant' Ambrogio, the bishop himself
Picture 5: The golden mosaic of the apsis is from the 12th century. I thought that somehow, the gold does not really fit to the overall interior of the church.
Apart from these, there are many more interesting things to see: The altar paneling is the only one left from the Karolingians in the world, there are two pillars with a snake and a cross on top, probably dating back to around 1000A.D., and the chapel San Vittore featuring mosaics.
Take your time when visiting this church, wander around and have a look - it's worth it :-)
Built in a typical Lombard medieval style in 379 and consecrated by St. Ambrose in 386, Sant'Ambrogio is one of the oldest churches in Milan.
During the years, different parts of the complex have been added: in 739 the monastery of the Benedictine Monks, in the 9th century the simple right bell-tower, in the 10th century the apse and the presbytery and in the 12th century the aisles, the drum, the entrance and the left bell-tower, known as bell-tower of the canons.
The last part completed was the three-arched loggia finished in 1889.
The facade is flanked on either side by the two bell-towers and is composed of two super-imposed loggias.
Basilica Sant’ Ambrogio was founded by bishop Ambrogio (Ambrosius) between 379 - 386. Ambrogio is the patron saint of Milan and his remains are in the church. Through the years the church has been added to and reconstructed and has got a Romanesque architecture. In 1943 it was badly damaged by bombs.
There are two bell towers, one from the 9th century and the other from the 12th century. It is not common for churches to have two towers, but Sant Ambrogio was used both worldly canons and Benedictine monks.
Inside the church there are three naves and excellent work of art.
There is a museum in the church.
Near Leonardo Da Vinci museum and not far from Castello Sforzesco, this not-so-well-known church is worth a visit. Its early Christian architecture and, most of all, its amazing apse make it a must when visiting MIlan. It was the first time I could see a real Pantocrator, and I admit I was moved. There is also a crypt... but this is matter for another tip.
Cerca del Museo Leonardo Da Vinci y no muy lejos del Castello Sforzesco, esta no tan conocida iglesia bien merece una visita. Su arquitectura paleocristiana y sobre todo, su alucinante ábside la convierten en visita obligada en Milan. Fue la primera vez en mi vida que vi un Pantocrator y debo admitir que me conmovió. También hay una cripta, pero eso es materia para otro consejo
St. Ambrogio is the masterpiece of Romanesque architecture in Lombardy, and indeed the prototype of all Romanesque architecture in Italy. The church and a basilica was dedicated to St. Ambrose, the bishop-protector of the city whose mortal remains were buried inside.
The basilica was built on the site of the palace where in 313 the Emperor Constantine issued his famous Edict granting the early Christians the right to freely practice their religion. It was Ambrose himself who desired that the basilica be built over the site of the Cristian burial ground and martyres. The plan of the church consecrated by Ambrose on January 13, 386 had single aisles, no transepts, and a single apse, just as it appears today.
In 789 Archbishop Pietro added a monastery for Benedictine monks along-side the church. Starting from the 9th century, the church went through a slow transformation, first when the apse was lengthened and then when the first belltower (Monks' Tower) was put up. Later on, in the 10th century the second belltower called the Rectors' Tower went up on the left side. By this time the church had taken on the pure Romanesque look it has retained up to this very day, despite Bramante's Renaissance touches in the rectory and cloister.
This is another very old, very interesting chiesa that does an unusually good job of providing some signage (in English!) to tell you what you’re looking at. Basilica Martyrum (Church of the Martyrs) was one of several religious houses established by St. Ambrose in the 4th century. Patron saint of Milan, he’s entombed in this church that was later rededicated in his name. It shares some characteristics of San Lorenzo Maggiore in that it was constructed outside the city walls during the same era, was near the burial place of some notable early Christian martyrs, and has been extensively rebuilt but roughly follows the original plan. Similarly, it also incorporates a 4th-century funerary chapel which would once have been a separate structure.
But that’s where any resemblances end as St. Ambrose’s three-aisled footprint is of completely different shape, and the rebuilt structure is 11th-century Romanesque design. It’s just packed with goodies inside: a very interesting 4th-century sarcophagus; a gold and silver altar dating from 835; 9th-century mosaics; medieval frescoes… all sorts of stuff. My favorites were a fascinating array of carved capitols on the arcaded portico outside the entrance. Dating from the 11th and 12th-centuries, they’re decorated with twining botanicals, fierce beasts, winged creatures, squatty little people, and no two are alike.
Down in the crypt you’ll find the mouldering remains of Sant’Ambrogio himself flanked by two others - Gervasio and Protasio - whom Ambrose had enshrined in his original basilica. All three were eventually piled into one sarcophagus and entombed in that gold and silver altar upstairs, which had been designed for the purpose, and then relocated here sometime after the crypt was built in the 1100’s.
I paid a small fee of €2 to peer into Cappella di San Vittore in Ciel D’oro: the Chapel of St. Victor of the Golden Sky. This was the ancient shrine that pre-dated the original basilica and which was merged into the fabric of the current church in the 1400’s. It's sheathed in beautiful 5th-century mosaics which underwent hefty reconstruction after the church was badly bomb-damaged during WWII. This part of the church also contains a small museum of reliquaries, ancient artifacts and other paraphernalia. Among them is a 1944 creche that was painstakingly created from scavenged materials by Italian prisoners in the German concentration camp at Wietzendorf. The sign said that one piece - an ox - was left at the camp in remembrance of soldiers who “saw this Nativity Scene come into being but did not come home.”
You can take a few nice 360-degree tours of the church and portico here:
Open Mon- Sat from 10:00 - 12:00 and 2:30 - 6:00; Sunday from 3:00 - 5:00. As with all Italian churches, please remember to dress modestly: no uncovered knees or shoulders.
Located close to Sant'Ambrogio church, Pusterla di Sant'Ambrogio, built in 1171, is made of a unique tower bordered by two lateral arches.
Up on the central part can be found the statues of Sant' Ambrogio, San Gervasio and San Protasio.
The Pusterla was passing through restoration works but the statues of the saints were not covered.
In Spain we have a kind of sweet which is called "Saint's bones". It is typical to eat them in November. But in Milano, at San Ambrogio, you could see real saint's bones. The crypt preserves the bones of Ambrogio, Gervase and Protase (his disciples). Well, the names seemed funny to us... and it was strange to see those skeletons dressed with pontifical clothes.
En España tenemos un tipo de dulce que se llama "Huesos de Santo". Es típico comerlos en Noviembre. Pero en Milan, en la iglesia de San Ambrosio, podeis encontrar huesos de santo de verdad. La cripta conserva los huesos de Ambrosio, Gervasio y Potasio (sus discípulos). Bueno, los nombres nos parecieron peculiares, la verdad... y fue raro ver aquellos esqueletos vestidos con ropas de misa.
The Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio is one of the oldest churches in Milan, built by St. Ambrose, an early bishop of Milan, in the 4th century. The church was being renovated when we were there in 2010, but there was still a lot of architectural and ecclesiastical beauty in evidence, and we were glad we went.
St. Ambrose himself is still there, in the crypt, wearing his robes and mitre. He's a bit bony but otherwise not in bad shape for someone almost 1700 years old. It seemed disrespectful to take a photo of his remains, so I photographed other parts of the church instead.
Open Monday through Saturday, 9:00-noon, 2:30-6:30.
Of particular interest inside the beautiful St. Ambrose church is aisle mosaic presenting the Christ Pantokrator flanked by the martyrs Gervasio and Protasio and the acrhangels Michael and Gabriel flying above.
Among the most beautiful chapels are Santa Savina’s one, the one dedicated to Santa Marcellina with the impressive marble statue presenting the saint praying and St George chapel with the colorful frescos of Lanino.
The remains of Bishop Ambrose, the Patron Saint of Milan, are held in a silver urn in the crypt.
The saint is dressed in white pontifical clothes and is flanked by the martyrs Gervasio and Protasio with white and gold shirts, gold crowns and palm leaves, the symbol of the martyrium.
The crypt was built in the second part of the X century, but the bodys of the saint have been mvved here around 1897.
Construction of the basilica began in 379, and in 387 it was consecrated by St. Ambrose. Over the centuries the basilica has been modified, enlarged, damaged and even bombed, during the last World War. Despite this it has retained its air of austerity and solemnity, and is still considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Lombardy. Inside there are monuments, works of art, and relics bearing witness to sixteen centuries of history. The pulpit, decorated with columns and arches, rests on an early-Christian sarcophagus. The ciborium, with its Roman columns, rises above the golden altar by Volvinio. The apse is lined with a superb mosaic. The votive chapel of San Vittore in Ciel d'Oro dates back to the 4th century and the mosaics inside to the 5th. It is worth a visit the portico of the canons' house by Donato Bramante, the chapel of San Sigismondo and the Basilica Treasure. A few yards from the entrance to the basilica is a 1939 copy of a 14th century postern, which during the Middle Ages was part of the city-walls.