Milan – Sant’Eustorgio and the Basilicas Park

This is an excerpt from the book “Milan and the lakes – Lake Como and Lake Maggiore

Sant'Eustorgio
Sant’Eustorgio

The Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio is located within the Basilicas Park city park. It was for many years an important stop for pilgrims on their journey to Rome or to the Holy Land, because it was the site of the tomb of the Three Magi or Three Kings.

Probably founded in the 4th century, its name refers to Eustorgius I, the bishop of Milan to whom is attributed the translation of the supposed relics of the Magi to the city from Constantinople in 344.

The main altar and the dome
The main altar and the dome
The main altar
The main altar

The high altar is an imposing marble polyptych of the early 15th century, while a similar work is in the right transept, next to the Early Christian sarcophagus of the Magi.

The Cappella Portinari
The Cappella Portinari
The Cappella Portinari - detail
The Cappella Portinari – detail

Behind the apse is the most striking feature of the church, the Portinari Chapel (1462–1468), one of the most celebrated examples of Renaissance art in Lombardy. It has frescoes by Vincenzo Foppa and a marble sepulchre by Giovanni di Balduccio, a 14th-century pupil of Giovanni Pisano. The Chapel also houses an important Dominican monument, the Ark (tomb) of Saint Peter of Verona, which is replete with marble bass-relief images by the sculptor, Giovanni di Balduccio.

Relics of the Three Wise Men
Relics of the Three Wise Men

In the 12th century, when Milan was sacked by Frederick Barbarossa, the relics of the Magi were appropriated and subsequently taken to Cologne. It was only in 1903/4 that fragments of the bones and garments were sent back to Sant’Eustorgio’s. Nowadays they are in the Three Kings altar nearby the empty Three Kings sarcophagus. Still today, in memory of the Three Kings, the bell tower is surmounted by a star instead of the traditional cross.

The back of the church
The back of the church

From the back of Sant’Eustorgio starts the Basilics Park, that extends several hundred meters to the Basilic of San Lorenzo

Park of the basilicas
Park of the basilicas

The Park is a free Wi-Fi zone, and is frequented by local children with their parents.

San Lorenzo from the Park
San Lorenzo from the Park

The basilica of San Lorenzo was built between the late fourth and early fifth centuries. The exact date is uncertain, as are the name of who commissioned it and the circumstances of its foundation. Some sources attribute the buiding to the years (355–372), others give the date of the foundation of the church to a later period, between 390 and 402.

Roman columns at San Lorenzo
Roman columns at San Lorenzo

The square facing the basilica features the so-called “Colonne di San Lorenzo” (Columns of St. Lawrence), one of the few remains of the Roman “Mediolanum”, dating from the 3rd century AD and probably belonging to the large baths built by the emperor Maximian. They were carried in the current place when the basilica construction was finished.

Where to stay in Milan

There are hotels, apartments, B&Bs and guesthouses available, check it out and make a reservation here.