Palazo Imperiale, Roman Imperial Palace

Roman Site in Milan

Milano - Palazzo Imperiale Romano Di Milano
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Eighty hungry

The Roman imperial palace in Milan was constructed by Emperor Maximian when Mediolanum (modern Milan) became the capital of the Western Roman Empire, a role it held from 286 AD to 402 AD. During this time, Maximian adorned the city with various monuments, and a significant portion of the western city was dedicated to the imperial palace and its surrounding neighborhood. This area served as the emperor’s residence and court, featuring public and administrative spaces, private baths, military garrisons, places of worship, and residential zones.

Typical of Roman imperial palaces, Milan’s palace had direct access to the circus, allowing the emperor to attend events without venturing into public streets. Mediolanum’s palace included a covered passage leading directly to the adjacent Roman circus. Historical documents refer to the palace district, which spanned 80,000 square meters, as “palatium” or “regia.” The imperial palace gradually fell into disuse between the end of the Lombard rule and the first half of the 10th century, eventually being completely demolished by the century’s end. The only remaining memory of the palace is preserved in the name of the church of San Giorgio al Palazzo, located in modern Piazza San Giorgio al Palazzo along Via Torino, dating back to the 12th century.

The Roman imperial palace neighborhood was situated between what are now Corso Magenta, Via Santa Maria alla Porta, Via Santa Maria Fulcorina (which aligns with the ancient Decumanus Maximus), and Via Torino (the ancient Cardo Maximus), stretching between Porta Romana Ticinese and Porta Vercellina. The palace’s impressive walls have been uncovered in modern streets such as Via Brisa, Piazza Mentana, Via Morigi, Via Sant’Orsola, Via Borromei, Via Gorani, and Piazza Borromeo. These excavations, conducted between 1951 and 1962, revealed foundations, some above-ground walls, and parts of decorated floors. The remains in Via Brisa are particularly accessible as they are located in an open-air museum area. Additional remains of porticoed courtyards, fundamental to the palace’s architectural complex, have been found in Via Gorani and Piazza Borromeo.

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Visiting Palazo Imperiale, Roman Imperial Palace

Address: Palazzo Imperiale di Massimiano, Via Brisa, Milano, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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