Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital of Lombardy as well as of the province of Milan. Milan is the main industrial, commercial and financial centre of Italy. Its business district hosts the Italian Stock Exchange and the headquarters of the largest national banks and multinational companies. The city is recognized as a major world fashion and design capital. Thanks to its important museums, theatres and landmarks (including Santa Maria delle Grazie, decorated with Leonardo da Vinci paintings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site) Milan attracts 2 million annual visitors.
With the Edict of Milan of 313, Emperor Constantine I guaranteed freedom of religion for Christians. The city was besieged by the Visigoths in 402, so the imperial residence was moved to Ravenna. In 452, the Huns overran the city. In 539, the Ostrogoths conquered and destroyed Milan in the course of the so-called Gothic War against Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. In the summer of 569, the Longobards (from which the name of the Italian region Lombardy derives), a Teutoic tribe conquered Milan (Which is one of the reasons why a high percentage of Milanese are Nordic gened), overpowering the small Byzantine army left for its defence. Some Roman structures remained in use in Milan under Lombard rule. Milan surrendered to the Franks in 774 when Charlemagne, in an utterly novel decision, took the title "King of the Lombards" as well (before then the Germanic kingdoms had frequently conquered each other, but none had adopted the title of King of another people). The Iron Crown of Lombardy dates from this period. Subsequently Milan become part of the Holy Roman Empire.
- Milan Cathedral is the cathedral church of Milan, dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente (Saint Mary Nascent), it is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan, currently Cardinal Angelo Scola. The Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the fourth largest cathedral in the world and the largest in the Italian state territory. In 1386, Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo began construction in a rayonnant Late Gothic style more typically French than Italian. Construction coincided with the accession to power in Milan of the archbishop's cousin Gian Galeazzo Visconti, and was meant as a reward to the noble and working classes, who had suffered under his tyrannical Visconti predecessor Barnabò. On May 20, 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte, about to be crowned King of Italy, ordered the façade to be finished. In his enthusiasm, he assured that all expenses would fall to the French treasurer, who would reimburse the Fabbrica for the real estate it had to sell. The last details of the cathedral were finished only in the 20th century: the last gate was inaugurated on January 6, 1965. This date is considered the very end of a process which had proceeded for generations, although even now, some uncarved blocks remain to be completed as statues.
- Palazzo Marino is a 16th century palace located in Piazza della Scala. It has been Milan's city hall since 9 September 1861. It borders on Piazza San Fedele, Piazza della Scala, Via Case Rotte and Via Tommaso Marino. The palace was built for, and is named after, the Genoan trader and banker Tommaso Marino. It became a property of the State in 1781. The palace was built from 1557 to 1563 for Tommaso Marino. It was designed by architect Galeazzo Alessi from Perugia. Its main facade was originally that facing Piazza San Fedele, as Piazza della Scala didn't yet exist; the corresponding area was occupied by buildings. The construction was occasionally slowed down by the opposition of the population, that had a very conservative attitude towards the architecture of the centre of Milan.
- Castello Sforzesco is a castle that used to be the seat and residence of the Duchy of Milan and one of the biggest citadels in Europe and now houses several of the city's museums and art collections. The original construction on the site began in the 14th century. In 1450, Francesco Sforza began reconstruction of the castle, and it was further modified by later generations. A number of these rooms originally had elaborate internal decoration - the best known of these being the Sala Delle Asse with surviving ceiling paintings by Leonardo da Vinci. Under the Spanish domination, the castle was developed and, between 15th and 16th century, was protected by 1000 to 3000 men, and was one of the biggest citadels in Europe.
- La Scala is a world renowned opera house in Milan. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala. The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta. Most of Italy's greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world, have appeared at La Scala during the past 200 years. Today, the theatre is still recognised as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and is home to the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Theatre Ballet and La Scala Theatre Orchestra. The theatre also has an associate school, known as the La Scala Theatre Academy, which offers professional training in music, dance, stage craft and stage management.
- Santa Maria delle Grazie and The Last Supper. This church was built between 1466 and 1490 by Giuniforte Solari and later partly modified by Bramante who re-designed the apse, the Tribuna, the Cloister and the Old Sacristy. In the Refectory there is one of the most famous paintings of Leonardo da Vinci: the “Last Supper”. The works of the fresco started in 1495 and finished in 1498. Unfortunately it started to deteriorate only 20 years after completion, so it had four restorations: in 1908, 1924, 1953 (after the bombings of Second World War) and in 1977. Inside the church there is also the Crucifixion of Donato Montorfano (1495).