This Basilica, which stands in the square bearing the same name, reflects sixteen centuries of history. It is the queen and mother of Lombard churches.
This Paleo-Christian building was started in 379 and consecrated by Sant’Ambrogio in 387. During the passage of the centuries it was enlarged, altered or damaged on various occasions and during the Second World War it was bombed Nevertheless, it retains a solemnity and austerity that permits it to be still considered one of the masterpieces of Lombard Romanesque architecture.
Inside are sculpture and antique mementos, religious relics and works of art from over 1600 years of Milanese history. Worthy of note are: the pulpit with its columns and arches which rests on an early Christian sarcophagus; the ciborium (shrine) held up by Roman columns above the gold altar (the Paliotto) which is a magnificent work by the goldsmith. Volvinio; the ceiling of the apse with its grandiose 12th century mosaic; and the 4th century golden mosaic ceiling in the sacellum (chapel) of St. Vittore in Ciel d’Oro.
Remarkable also are the Portico della Canonica (rectory) designed by Bramante, the oratory of San Sigismondo and the Treasury full of precious things. A lew meters from the entrance to the basilica rises the Pusterla (a part of the old city wall and entrance door) constructed in 300 that during medieval times was incorporated into the walls surrounding the city.