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City of Milan
City of Milan

Milan (Italian: Milano; ancient Medhelan Mediolanum (City in the middle of the lands)) is a city in northern Italy. Milan is the capital of the Milano Provence and of the Lombardy Region. It is populated by 1,308,735 inhabitants. It is the most populated province in Italy, and it is the second biggest city in Italy (after Rome).

Milan is the fashion capital of the world and its important influence on design, economics, opera, and the media make it amongst the world's top 18 Global cities, along with Moscow, Buenos Aires and Kuala Lumpur.

History

Mediolanum was founded by Insubres, a Celtic people. It was captured by the Romans in 222 BC. Milan became very successful under the Roman Empire.

Milan was ruled by the Spanish in the 1500s and the Austrians in the 1700s. During the Renaissance and the Romantic periods, Milan was a major cultural centre in the whole of Europe, famous for its literature and opera.

During the war, the city was badly affected by Allied bombings and during the 50s and 60s the city grew into being the wealthy and industrial metropolis it is today.

Geography

Topography

Milano skyline
Aerial view of the city
Darsena di Milano - 2015
The Darsena

Milan is located in the north-western section of the Po Valley, approximately halfway between the river Po to the south and the foothills of the Alps with the great lakes (Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano) to the north, the Ticino river to the west and the Adda to the east. The city's land is flat, the highest point being at 122 m (400.26 ft) above sea level.

The administrative commune covers an area of about 181 square kilometres (70 sq mi), with a population, in 2013, of 1,324,169 and a population density of 7,315 inhabitants per square kilometre (18,950/sq mi). The Metropolitan City of Milan covers 1,575 square kilometres (608 sq mi) and in 2015 had a population estimated at 3,196,825, with a resulting density of 2,029 inhabitants per square kilometre (5,260/sq mi). A larger urban area, comprising parts of the provinces of Milan, Monza e Brianza, Como, Lecco and Varese is 1,891 square kilometres (730 sq mi) wide and has a population of 5,270,000 with a density of 2,783 inhabitants per square kilometre (7,210/sq mi).

The concentric layout of the city centre reflects the Navigli, an ancient system of navigable and interconnected canals, now mostly covered. The suburbs of the city have expanded mainly to the north, swallowing up many communes to reach Varese, Como, Lecco and Bergamo.

Climate

The Naviglio Grande in Milan - 01 - during fiera NavigaMi boat Show - salone nautico NavigaMi
Summer along Naviglio Grande

Milan has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), according to the Köppen climate classification, or a temperate oceanic climate (Do), according to the Trewartha climate classification. Milan's climate is similar to much of Northern Italy's inland plains, with warm, sultry summers and cold, foggy winters. However, the mean number of days with precipitation per year is one of the lowest in Europe. The Alps and Apennine Mountains form a natural barrier that protects the city from the major circulations coming from northern Europe and the sea.

During winter, daily average temperatures can fall below freezing (0 °C [32 °F]) and accumulations of snow can occur: the historic average of Milan's area is 25 centimetres (10 in) in the period between 1961 and 1990, with a record of 90 centimetres (35 in) in January 1985. In the suburbs the average can reach 36 centimetres (14 in). The city receives on average seven days of snow per year.

The city is often shrouded in heavy fog, although the removal of rice paddies from the southern neighbourhoods and the urban heat island effect have reduced this occurrence in recent decades. Occasionally, the Foehn winds cause the temperatures to rise unexpectedly: on 22 January 2012 the daily high reached 16 °C (61 °F) while on 22 February 2012 it reached 21 °C (70 °F). Air pollution levels rise significantly in wintertime when cold air clings to the soil, causing Milan to be one of Europe’s most polluted cities.

In summer, humidity levels are high and peak temperatures can reach temperatures above 35 °C (95 °F). Usually this season enjoys clearer skies with an average of more than 13 hours of daylight: when precipitations occur though, there is a higher likelihood of them being thunderstorms and hailstorms. Springs and autumns are generally pleasant, with temperatures ranging between 10 and 20 °C (50 and 68 °F); these seasons are characterized by higher rainfall, especially in April and May. Relative humidity typically ranges between 45% (comfortable) and 95% (very humid) throughout the year, rarely dropping below 27% (dry) and reaching as high as 100% Wind is generally absent: over the course of the year typical wind speeds vary from 0 to 14 km/h (0 to 9 mph) (calm to gentle breeze), rarely exceeding 29 km/h (18 mph) (fresh breeze), except during summer thunderstorms when winds can blow strong. In the spring, gale-force windstorms may happen, generated either by Tramontane blowing from the Alps or by Bora-like winds from the north.

Cityscape

Skyline

Skyline of Porta Nuova from the roof of the Duomo

There are two main areas which dominate Milan's skyline: the Porta Nuova area in the north-east (boroughs n° 9 and 2) and the CityLife area (borough n° 8). The tallest buildings include the Unicredit Tower at 231 m (though only 162 m without the tower), and the 209 m Allianz Tower, which has 50 floors.

Architecture

Milan Cathedral from Piazza del Duomo
Milan Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.
Castello Sforzesco, fontana e torre del Filarete
Torre del Filarete of Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco), a historic medieval fortress.
Palazzo Reale di Milano
The Royal Palace of Milan.
Milan Royal Villa improved version
Villa Belgiojoso Bonaparte, one of the finest examples of Neoclassical architecture in Lombardy.
Front portico of Stazione Centrale, Milan
The huge Central railway station inaugurated in 1931.
Monumentale di Milano ingresso
The Cimitero Monumentale, it is noted for the abundance of artistic tombs and monuments.

There are only few remains of the ancient Roman colony, notably the well-preserved Colonne di San Lorenzo. During the second half of the 4th century, Saint Ambrose, as bishop of Milan, had a strong influence on the layout of the city, reshaping the centre (although the cathedral and baptistery built in Roman times are now lost) and building the great basilicas at the city gates: Sant'Ambrogio, San Nazaro in Brolo, San Simpliciano and Sant'Eustorgio, which still stand, refurbished over the centuries, as some of the finest and most important churches in Milan. Milan's Cathedral, built between 1386 and 1577, is the fifth-largest cathedral in the world and the most important example of Gothic architecture in Italy. The gilt bronze statue of the Virgin Mary, placed in 1774 on the highest pinnacle of the Duomo, soon became one of the most enduring symbols of Milan.

In the 15th century, when the Sforza ruled the city, an old Viscontean fortress was enlarged and embellished to become the Castello Sforzesco, the seat of an elegant Renaissance court surrounded by a walled hunting park. Notable architects involved in the project included the Florentine Filarete, who was commissioned to build the high central entrance tower, and the military specialist Bartolomeo Gadio. The alliance between Francesco Sforza and Florence's Cosimo de' Medici bore to Milan Tuscan models of Renaissance architecture, apparent in the Ospedale Maggiore and Bramante's work in the city, which includes Santa Maria presso San Satiro (a reconstruction of a small 9th-century church), the tribune of Santa Maria delle Grazie and three cloisters for Sant'Ambrogio. The Counter-Reformation in the 16th to 17th centuries was also the period of Spanish domination and was marked by two powerful figures: Saint Charles Borromeo and his cousin, Cardinal Federico Borromeo. Not only did they impose themselves as moral guides to the people of Milan, but they also gave a great impulse to culture, with the creation of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, in a building designed by Francesco Maria Ricchino, and the nearby Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. Many notable churches and Baroque mansions were built in the city during this period by the architects, Pellegrino Tibaldi, Galeazzo Alessi and Ricchino himself.

Empress Maria Theresa of Austria was responsible for the significant renovations carried out in Milan during the 18th century. This profound urban and artistic renewal included the establishment of Teatro alla Scala, inaugurated in 1778 and today one of the world's most famous opera houses, and the renovation of the Royal Palace. The late 1700s Palazzo Belgioioso by Giuseppe Piermarini and Royal Villa of Milan by Leopoldo Pollack, later the official residence of Austrian viceroys, are often regarded among the best examples of Neoclassical architecture in Lombardy. The Napoleonic rule of the city in 1805–1814, having established Milan as the capital of a satellite Kingdom of Italy, took steps in order to reshape it accordingly to its new status, with the construction of large boulevards, new squares (Porta Ticinese by Luigi Cagnola and Foro Bonaparte by Giovanni Antonio Antolini) and cultural institutions (Art Gallery and the Academy of Fine Arts). The massive Arch of Peace, situated at the bottom of Corso Sempione, is often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. In the second half of the 19th century, Milan quickly became the main industrial centre in of the new Italian nation, drawing inspiration from the great European capitals that were hubs of the second industrial revolution. The great Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, realised by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877 to celebrate Vittorio Emanuele II, is a covered passage with a glass and cast iron roof, inspired by the Burlington Arcade in London. Another late-19th-century eclectic monument in the city is the Cimitero Monumentale graveyard, built in a Neo-Romanesque style between 1863 and 1866.

The tumultuous period of early 20th century brought several, radical innovations in Milanese architecture. Art Nouveau, also known as Liberty in Italy, is recognisable in Palazzo Castiglioni, built by architect Giuseppe Sommaruga between 1901 and 1904. Other remarkable examples include Hotel Corso and Berri-Meregalli house, the latter built in a traditional Milanese Art Nouveau style combined with elements of neo-Romanesque and Gothic revival architecture, regarded as one of the last such types of architecture in the city. A new, more eclectic form of architecture can be seen in buildings such as Castello Cova, built the 1910s in a distinctly neo-medieval style, evoking the architectural trends of the past. An important example of Art Deco, which blended such styles with Fascist architecture, is the huge Central railway station inaugurated in 1931.

The post–World War II period saw rapid reconstruction and fast economic growth, accompanied by a nearly two-fold increase in population. In the 1950s and 1960s, a strong demand for new residential and commercial areas drove to extreme urban expansion, that has produced some of the major milestones in the city's architectural history, including Gio Ponti's Pirelli Tower (1956–60), Velasca Tower (1956–58), and the creation of brand new residential satellite towns, as well as huge amounts of low quality public housings. In recent years, de-industrialization, urban decay and gentrification led to a vast urban renewal of former industrial areas, that have been transformed into modern residential and financial districts, notably Porta Nuova in downtown Milan and FieraMilano in the suburb of Rho. In addition, the old exhibition area is being completely reshaped according to the Citylife regeneration project, featuring residencial areas, museums, an urban park and three skyscrapers designed by international architects, and after whom they are named: the 202-metre (663-foot) Isozaki Arata—when completed, the tallest building in Italy, the twisted Hadid Tower, and the curved Libeskind Tower.

Parks and gardens

Milano, Palazzo Dugnani, 2016-06 CN-01
The Montanelli Gardens.
Arco-della-Pace-Porta-Sempione-Milan-07-2017
The Arch of Peace at the gates of Sempione Park.

The largest parks in the central area of Milan are Sempione Park, at the north-western edge, and Montanelli Gardens, situated northeast of the city. English-style Sempione Park, built in 1890, contains a Napoleonic Arena, the Milan City Aquarium, a steel lattice panoramic tower, an art exhibition centre, a Japanese garden and a public library. The Montanelli gardens, created in the 18th century, hosts the Natural History Museum of Milan and a planetarium. Slightly away from the city centre, heading east, Forlanini Park is characterised by a large pond and a few preserved shacks which remind of the area's agricultural past.

In addition, even though Milan is located in one of the most urbanised regions of Italy, it's surrounded by a belt of green areas and features numerous gardens even in its very centre. Since 1990, the farmlands and woodlands north (Parco Nord Milano) and south (Parco Agricolo Sud Milano) of the urban area have been protected as regional parks. West of the city, the Parco delle Cave (Sand pit park) has been established on a neglected site where gravel and sand used to be extracted, featuring artificial lakes and woods.

Culture

Museums and art galleries

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) - The Last Supper (1495-1498)
Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, together with the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Arengario Milano Museo 900
The Museo del Novecento displays the world's largest collection of Futurist art.
Brera-MainCourtYard
The Pinacoteca di Brera.
Milano chiesa San Carlo al Corso
The San Carlo al Corso.

Milan is home to many cultural institutions, museums and art galleries, that account for about a tenth of the national total of visitors and receipts. The Pinacoteca di Brera is one of Milan's most important art galleries. It contains one of the foremost collections of Italian painting, including masterpieces such as the Brera Madonna by Piero della Francesca. The Castello Sforzesco hosts numerous art collections and exhibitions, especially statues, ancient arms and furnitures, as well as the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, with an art collection including Michelangelo's last sculpture, the Rondanini Pietà, Andrea Mantegna's Trivulzio Madonna and Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Trivulzianus manuscript. The Castello complex also includes The Museum of Ancient Art, The Furniture Museum, The Museum of Musical Instruments and the Applied Arts Collection, The Egyptian and Prehistoric sections of the Archaeological Museum and the Achille Bertarelli Print Collection.

Milan's figurative art flourished in the Middle Ages, and with the Visconti family being major patrons of the arts, the city became an important centre of Gothic art and architecture (Milan Cathedral being the city's most formidable work of Gothic architecture). Leonardo worked in Milan from 1482 until 1499. He was commissioned to paint the Virgin of the Rocks for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception and The Last Supper for the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

The city was affected by the Baroque in the 17th and 18th centuries, and hosted numerous formidable artists, architects and painters of that period, such as Caravaggio and Francesco Hayez, which several important works are hosted in Brera Academy. The Museum of Risorgimento is specialised on the history of Italian unification Its collections include iconic paintings like Baldassare Verazzi's Episode from the Five Days and Francesco Hayez's 1840 Portrait of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria. The Triennale is a design museum and events venue located in Palazzo dell'Arte, in Sempione Park. It hosts exhibitions and events highlighting contemporary Italian design, urban planning, architecture, music, and media arts, emphasising the relationship between art and industry.

Milan in the 20th century was the epicentre of the Futurist artistic movement. Filippo Marinetti, the founder of Italian Futurism wrote in his 1909 "Manifesto of Futurism" (in Italian, Manifesto Futuristico), that Milan was "grande...tradizionale e futurista" ("grand...traditional and futuristic", in English). Umberto Boccioni was also an important Futurism artist who worked in the city. Today, Milan remains a major international hub of modern and contemporary art, with numerous modern art galleries. The Modern Art Gallery, situated in the Royal Villa, hosts collections of Italian and European painting from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. The Museo del Novecento, situated in the Palazzo dell'Arengario, is one of the most important art galleries in Italy about 20th-century art; of particular relevance are the sections dedicated to Futurism, Spatialism and Arte povera. In the early 1990s architect David Chipperfield was invited to convert the premises of the former Ansaldo Factory into a Museum. Museo delle Culture (MUDEC) opened in April 2015. The Gallerie di Piazza Scala, a modern and contemporary museum located in Piazza della Scala in the Palazzo Brentani and the Palazzo Anguissola, hosts 195 artworks from the collections of Fondazione Cariplo with a strong representation of nineteenth-century Lombard painters and sculptors, including Antonio Canova and Umberto Boccioni. A new section was opened in the Palazzo della Banca Commerciale Italiana in 2012. Other private ventures dedicated to contemporary art include the exhibiting spaces of the Prada Foundation and HangarBicocca. The Nicola Trussardi Foundation is renewed for organising temporary exhibition in venues around the city. Milan is also home to many public art projects, with a variety of works that range from sculptures to murals to pieces by internationally renowned artists, including Arman, Kengiro Azuma, Francesco Barzaghi, Alberto Burri, Pietro Cascella, Maurizio Cattelan, Leonardo Da Vinci, Giorgio de Chirico, Kris Ruhs, Emilio Isgrò, Fausto Melotti, Joan Miró, Carlo Mo, Claes Oldenburg, Igor Mitoraj, Gianfranco Pardi, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Carlo Ramous, Aldo Rossi, Aligi Sassu, Giuseppe Spagnulo and Domenico Trentacoste.

Music

Architettura (1)
Founded in 1778, La Scala is the world's most famous opera house.

Milan is a major national and international centre of the performing arts, most notably opera. The city hosts La Scala operahouse, considered one of the world's most prestigious, having throughout history witnessed the premieres of numerous operas, such as Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi in 1842, La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli, Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini in 1904, Turandot by Puccini in 1926, and more recently Teneke, by Fabio Vacchi in 2007. Other major theatres in Milan include the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Teatro Dal Verme, Teatro Lirico and formerly the Teatro Regio Ducal. The city is also the seat of a renowned symphony orchestra and musical conservatory, and has been, throughout history, a major centre for musical composition: numerous famous composers and musicians such as Gioseppe Caimo, Simon Boyleau, Hoste da Reggio, Verdi, Giulio Gatti-Casazza, Paolo Cherici and Alice Edun lived and worked in Milan. The city is also the birthplace of many modern ensembles and bands, including Camaleonti, Camerata Mediolanense, Gli Spioni, Dynamis Ensemble, Elio e le Storie Tese, Krisma, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Quartetto Cetra, Stormy Six and Le Vibrazioni.

Fashion and design

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (3528537633)
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the city's largest shopping centres.

Milan is widely regarded as a global capital in industrial design, fashion and architecture. In the 1950s and 60s, as the main industrial centre of Italy and one of Europe's most dynamic cities, Milan became a world capital of design and architecture. There was such a revolutionary change that Milan’s fashion exports accounted for US$726 million in 1952, and by 1955 that number grew to US$72.5 billion. Modern skyscrapers, such as the Pirelli Tower and the Torre Velasca were built, and artists such as Bruno Munari, Lucio Fontana, Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni gathered in the city. Today, Milan is still particularly well known for its high-quality furniture and interior design industry. The city is home to FieraMilano, Europe's largest permanent trade exhibition, and Salone Internazionale del Mobile, one of the most prestigious international furniture and design fairs.

Milan is also regarded as one of the fashion capitals of the world, along with New York City, Paris, and London. Milan is synonymous with the Italian prêt-à-porter industry, as many of the most famous Italian fashion brands, such as Valentino, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, are headquartered in the city. Numerous international fashion labels also operate shops in Milan. Furthermore, the city hosts the Milan Fashion Week twice a year, one of the most important events in the international fashion system. Milan's main upscale fashion district, quadrilatero della moda, is home to the city's most prestigious shopping streets (Via Monte Napoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Sant'Andrea, Via Manzoni and Corso Venezia), in addition to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest shopping malls.

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