Palazzo Reale di Milano

Arts Venue and Palace in Milan

Milano - Palazzo Reale Di Milano
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Lauraderiu

The Palazzo Reale di Milano or the Royal Palace of Milan, located in the Piazza del Duomo, was historically the main centre of power in the region and, at times, for the entire Italy. Today, it houses an extensive art museum with over 1,500 works from prestigious institutions around the world. It also provides glimpses of the different courts that once resided there, including the Savoy, Habsburg, and Napoleonic courts.

The palace boasts beautifully decorated rooms with a focus on Neoclassical architecture, thanks to the refurbishments by architect Piermarini in 1769. The elegance of the palace reflects a balance that ensures its status in the Piazza del Duomo.

As Milan’s premier museum and one of the most significant in the region, the Royal Palace contains an array of valuable pieces from various periods. It holds temporary exhibitions featuring works on loan from other exclusive international institutions, spanning from Impressionism to works by masters like Leonardo da Vinci and abstract art by Kandinsky and Picasso. The museum’s collection is so diverse that it even hosts fashion and design exhibitions.

The museum’s layout follows the changing political times that the Royal Palace of Milan experienced. It begins with the era of Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Empress Consort, known for introducing Baroque decoration to the palace. The influence of Maria Theresa, who governed her domains from the Palazzo Reale, is evident in the wealth of Baroque decoration. Maria Theresa was the mother of Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France who met a tragic end during the French Revolution.

Even the influence of the French Revolution reached the Royal Palace of Milan as it became part of Napoleon’s empire. Napoleon’s distinctive luxury was mirrored in the Palazzo Reale, where he resided. A fresco dedicated to Napoleon can be admired in the Hall of the Caryatids, surviving the bombing of Milan in 1943.

The palace continued to evolve during the Concert of Europe, established after Napoleon’s defeat, where royal houses and European powers set new boundaries for the continent. Finally, the museum dedicates a space to the unification of Italy and the palace’s history from that period onward.

Within the numerous halls and rooms, visitors can step into a world of splendour, receptions, balls, dynasties, and courtiers. Notable rooms at the museum include:

  1. Hall of the Caryatids: A large ballroom decorated with exquisite frescoes and caryatid statues that seem to support the room’s grand ceiling.
  2. Tapestry Hall: Home to works inspired by the famous Gobelins Manufactory in Paris, creating a magnificent tapestry collection.

The Royal Palace of Milan has been a symbol of power in Milan since the Middle Ages. It served as a governing centre for the region and saw various families, such as the Visconti, Torriani, and Sforza, make it their seat of power. The Sforza family, in particular, invested heavily in its renovation to match the splendour of the neighbouring Milan Cathedral.

Later, under French rule, the palace underwent changes that connected it to nearby churches and expanded its grounds. During the late 16th century, several architects, including Pellegrino Tibaldi, were involved in its renovation as well.

Piermarini later refurbished the palace, setting its predominant Neoclassical style in accordance with the preferences of Ferdinand Karl, Archduke of Austria-Este. Despite the rich history of the palace, it did not get the opportunity to host Mozart, who was to conduct an opera there but was prevented from visiting by Empress Consort Maria Theresa.


The Palazzo Reale di Milano appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Milan!

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Visiting Palazzo Reale di Milano

Hours:

Monday: from 2.30 p.m. onwards.

Tuesday to Friday: from 9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Saturdays: from 9.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m.

Sunday: from 9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.


Price:

€17.00

Address: Palazzo Reale di Milano, Piazza del Duomo, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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