The Romanesque Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio (Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio) is dedicated to Milan's patron saint, St. Ambrose, who founded the church in the fourth century while bishop of Milan. The saint’s remains lay beneath the stunning ninth-century Golden Altar, a masterpiece of gold, gilded silver, precious stones, and enamel. The basilica’s unique architecture makes it a must-see.
The Basilica of Saint Ambrogio is among Milan's most important churches, along with the soaring Duomo and Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Many Milan city tours include a visit to all three along with other attractions like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Pinacoteca di Brera, Sforza Castle, and Navigli canal district. A hop-on hop-off bus tour, Milan Segway tour, and bicycle-powered rickshaw tour are fun and convenient ways to see Milan's attractions in one day.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The basilica was heavily bombed during World War II and has been extensively restored.
- The Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio is a place of worship, so attire covering shoulders and knees is recommended.
- The church is accessible to wheelchairs.
How to Get There
Milan (Milano) is the capital of Lombardy and one of the most important cities in northern Italy. It is well-connected by train to Florence, Rome, and Venice for an easy day trip, and the Basilica is located in the central Piazza Sant'Ambrogio, a short stroll west from the Duomo and served by the Sant'Ambrogio metro stop on the green line.
When to Get There
The basilica is open daily from 10am to 12pm and again from 2:30 to 6pm; on Sundays, it is closed to visitors in the morning.
Basilica of Sant’ Ambrogio Architecture
One of Milan's oldest churches, Sant’Ambrogio has undergone a number of renovations and embraces an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Partially rebuilt in the 11th century, the basilica has a squat Lombard facade and an atrium lined by two loggias with arches leading to the entrance; intricate Byzantine reliefs decorate the loggia capitals. Interior highlights include the apse mosaic of Christ, the paleo-Christian San Vittore in Ciel d'Oro chapel, and a number of carved pulpits and tombs, including the final resting place of Emperor Louis II. The church's entrance is flanked by two bell towers of differing heights that date from when two monastic orders were housed in the basilica, one in the northern cloister and another in the southern cloister.