Milan is one of the most famous and influential cities not just in Italy, but in the whole world. As the second largest city in Italy, Milan has a rich history spanning several centuries. From being the capital of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy to being a global fashion capital, Milan has played an important role throughout.
Here are some interesting and fun facts about Milan that show why Milan is one of the most prominent Italian cities.
Historical Facts About Milan
Milan has an extensive history spanning over 2000 years. Here are some important facts about Milan and its past.
Milan Was The Capital City Of Napoleon’s Kingdom Of Italy
One of the most fascinating facts about Milan is that it served as the capital of Napoleon’s Kingdom of Italy from 1805 to 1814.
After Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned King of Italy in 1805, he chose Milan to be the capital. Though Napoleon’s reign was short, this was an important time in Milan’s history.
It Was Founded By The Celts
Milan’s origins can be traced back to 400 BC when it was founded by the Celts as a small settlement.
Years later, the city was conquered by the Romans and was named Mediolanum. When the Roman Empire fell, Milan became independent. The city’s strategic location contributed greatly to its prosperity over the centuries.
The Ancient Defense System In Milan
Milan had an advanced system of walls and ditches to defend against sieges and intruders. The city changed hands many times, and all empires decided to build their own defense walls.
Over the years, three different wall defenses were installed in the city at different times and by different rulers. Traces of the historic walls and gates can still be seen across Milan today.
It Wasn’t Affected By The Black Plague To The Same Level As Rest Of Europe
One of the most intriguing facts about Milan is that it was one of the few places in Europe that showed strong resilience against the bubonic plague.
The pandemic killed nearly half of the population in Europe; however, it is estimated that Milan only had a death rate of around 15%.
It is believed that the authorities in Milan were very proactive in their preventive measures, which resulted in a lower number of deaths.
Da Vinci Designed The Canals In Milan
One of Leonardo da Vinci’s most significant contributions to Milan was his work on the city’s canal system. The canals were an integral part of Milan’s defenses and transportation. Though most of the canals have now been covered, the canals are still present underneath the city.
Cultural Facts About Milan
As the global capital of fashion, art, and design, Milan is famous for its vibrant cultural scene. Here are some fascinating cultural facts about the city.
The Tradition Of Aperitivo In Milan
Milan has a long and widespread tradition of Aperitivo, which is an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite. The Aperitivo or aperitif culture is centered around bars serving drinks and snack food for free or a nominal price with the purchase of a drink.
It is a great way to relax and socialize in the evenings before enjoying some of Milan’s delicious Italian food.
One Of The Four Fashion Capitals In The World
As a major fashion and design capital, Milan is part of the prestigious “Big Four” alongside Paris, London, and New York. Milan Fashion Week is one of the most important industry events globally. Models, designers, and fashionistas all make their way to Milan during Milan Fashion Week.
Madonnina On Building Tops
This Milan cathedral fact will have you looking up when you visit Milan. It’s common to see statues of the Madonnina, symbolizing the Virgin Mary, adorning building tops and spires across Milan. This tradition started in the 14th century when Milan Cathedral placed a Madonnina at its highest point.
Locals believe she offers blessing and protection to the people below. It is a tradition in Milan not to have any buildings higher than the Madonnina. Most skyscrapers in Milan have the Madonnina on the top so that the Madonnina statue remains the highest point in the city.
Risotto Alla Milanese
No food trip in Milan would be complete without trying risotto alla Milanese. This traditional local dish is made with rice and saffron and is known for its unique yellow color and exquisite taste. Risotto alla Milanese is a classic Milanese region specialty that is loved by locals and foreigners.
Teatro Alla Scala Is One Of The Most Prominent Opera Houses In The World
Teatro Alla Scala is Milan’s historic opera house dating back to 1778. It is one of the most popular Italian landmarks and is also considered one of the most prestigious opera venues in the world.
Many of the greatest opera artists of the past two centuries have performed at the opera house. Attending an opera performance at this iconic concert hall is a memorable Milan experience.
Simple Facts About Milan For Kids
Milan is a beautiful city that even kids would enjoy visiting. Here are some simple facts for kids that want to learn more about Milan.
A New Word Was Added To The Dictionary Based On Milan
The word “milliner” was added to the English dictionary based on Milan’s influence on hat trends back in the old days. Hatmakers in Milan perfected the art of straw hats and became leaders in the industry, and as such, traders brought these quality exports to other parts of the world.
The term millinery caught on in English, referring to all women’s hats, bonnets, and similar accessories coming from Milan.
Ambrosiana Library In Milan
Book lovers, scientists, and researchers are all going to love this Milan fact. It is also one of the main reasons they visit this iconic city.
The historic Ambrosiana Library houses hundreds and thousands of rare books, manuscripts, and artifacts that highlight Milan’s intellectual heritage.
Among its treasures are works of famous artists Italy is known for, like Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, along with several others. The library is like a database of exclusive information that you might not find in other libraries or museums.
Ambrosian Chants Were Started In Milan
An amazing fact about Milan, Italy is that it has always been a cultural hub, with art and music playing a huge role in bringing prominence to the city. The beautiful melodies of the Ambrosian chants were first introduced in the churches of Milan around 400 AD. The chant style is attributed to Saint Ambrose.
These chants have been an integral part of the Milanese culture for many centuries. They rose to prominence alongside the growing influence of Ambrose’s preaching and Milan’s increasing importance as a center of Christianity.
Giuseppe Verdi Was Rejected By Milan Conservatory
Giuseppe Verdi went on to become one of history’s greatest opera composers, but he faced early struggles in his career. The Milan Conservatory once rejected Verdi’s application.
However, just a few years after this, Verdi gave his first performance of La Scala. He is now regarded as a national hero in Italy. Several structures in Italy are named after Giuseppe, including the Milan Conservatory.
Useful Milan Facts For Travelers
Knowing these fun facts about Milan will help travelers make the most of their time in the city.
Milan Cathedral Is One Of The Largest Cathedrals In The World
A well-known and proud fact about Milan Cathedral is that it is the largest cathedral in Italy and the third largest in the world. This impressive Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete, from 1386 to 1965.
It is a massive cathedral with 135 spires and over 3000 statues. The cathedral’s architecture and artworks make it one of the most iconic and beautiful landmarks in Milan.
The Oldest Shopping Mall In Italy
This exciting fact about Milan is for the shopaholics out there. If you are looking for things to do in Milan, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the oldest active shopping mall in Italy. This structure has upscale shops, restaurants, bars, and luxury hotels.
The intricate glass domed ceiling and beautiful mosaic tiles create a magnificent setting. Located next to the Duomo, the Galleria is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
Bridge Of The Mermaids In Sempione Park
Located within one of Milan’s largest and most popular parks, lies a hidden gem known as the Bridge of the Little Mermaids. The bridge stretches gracefully over one of the many ponds found throughout Parco Sempione.
It has two mermaid statues on each side and is a popular romantic spot in Milan. This is because there are several romantic legends associated with the bridge. It is believed that when young couples touch the bottom of the statue and kiss each other at the same time, it will bring good luck to them.
A Church Decorated With Human Bones
One of the more eerie attractions in Milan is the San Bernardino alle Ossa church, decorated with human skulls and bones. The bones are arranged in intricate patterns as morbid works of art. Remains of thousands of people are on display here.
The church dates back to the 1200s when it was built next to a cemetery prone to overcrowding. Moving bones into the church was a creative solution back then. Some consider this one of the creepiest facts about Milan.
The Word Famous Artwork “The Last Supper” Can Be Found Here
Milan has some of the most extensive collections of Leonardo da Vinci’s work. In fact, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most well-known pieces, “The Last Supper,” can be found in Milan. The painting is located in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie and is the highlight for both local and international visitors to Milan.
Common Facts About Milan
Second Largest City In Italy
In terms of population, Milan is the second largest city in the country. It is home to over 3 million people. The only Italian city to have a larger population than Milan is the capital, Rome.
Milan City Day Is An Annual December Festival
Milan celebrates City Day every year on December 7th. The celebration is also known as the Feast of Saint Ambrose. He is the patron saint and bishop who lived in Milan centuries ago.
Festivities include concerts, parades, and craft markets. People also share traditional food dishes on this day. Locals pay respect to their patron saint while enjoying the lively atmosphere.
It Is Home To Many Luxurious Fashion Brands
As a fashion capital, it’s no surprise that Milan is home to the headquarters of some of the most prestigious luxury brands in the world. The Historic Quadrilatero della Moda district contains flagship stores for top designers like Armani, Prada, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and more.
People travel from around the world to shop at Milan’s luxury temples. The city’s reputation for style and fashion makes it a shopping paradise.
The Symbol Of Milan Is A Sort Of Snake Eating A Man
One strange fact about Milan is that its symbol is a biscione, which is a snake-like creature eating a human. This was the emblem of House Visconti, who ruled Milan in the Middle Ages. Over time, this symbol became associated with the city of Milan itself.
Other Interesting Facts About Milan
Here are some more fascinating facts about Milan that you might not know about.
Pirelli Tower In Milan Is The First Skyscraper In Italy
Milan has the greatest number of skyscrapers in Italy. A prominent part of the Milan skyline is the Pirelli Tower, which was the first skyscraper to be built in Italy. Even though the tower was built in the late 1950s, it still remains an iconic structure in Milan.
Home To The Biggest Football Stadium In Italy
This Milan fact is sure to interest football lovers traveling to Milan. Football is huge in Milan, and the city’s San Siro Stadium is the largest stadium in Italy. Home to local clubs Inter Milan and A.C. Milan, the stadium can hold around 76,000 spectators.
Watching a match alongside diehard fans is an electrifying experience. The stadium has also hosted major football tournaments, like the 1990 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 UEFA Champions League Final.
You can even hop on a behind-the-scenes tour of the San Siro Stadium to see the changing room, tunnels and more. A real treat for any football fans.
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Discovering More Fun Facts About Milan
These interesting facts about Milan are just the tip of the iceberg, as the Italian city offers a lot of other amazing things as well. From influential figures like Leonardo da Vinci to major industries like fashion, Milan has made a strong impact as a center of art and culture. Whether you’re an art lover, a fashionista, or a historian, Milan has something exciting to offer.