There is no better place to get a sense of history than the ancient crypts of Milan. Beneath the level of the modern city streets, you enter what is often the earliest part of the church, which can date back to the early Christian era of Milan. As well as the buildings themselves, the crypts are also the places that house sacred treasures, relics and tombs.
Milan’s gothic cathedral dates back to the fourteenth century, but was built on the site of a much earlier basilica. Inside the crypt you can see the impressive rock crystal tomb and remains of the sixteenth century cardinal and Archbishop of Milan, Saint Carlo Borromeo. Also to be seen is the cathedral treasury with religious art and artefacts that are used in ceremonies.
Basilica of Sant Ambrogio
The Basilica of Sant Ambrogio is one of the oldest churches in Milan. Originally built in the fourth century, by Saint Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, although none of that first church remains today. The crypt dates from the ninth century and houses the tombs of three saints – Saint Ambrose, Saint Gervasus and Saint Protasus. Also to be seen is the treasury of mosaics, tapestries, paintings and clothes. Holders of the MilanoCard can enter at a 50% discount.
Crypt of Leonardo
The crypt of San Sepolco has recently reopened for the first time in fifty years. It is also known as the Crypt of Leonardo, after the artist Leonardo da Vinci, who was fascinated by the beauty of the church and considered it the centre of Milan. The crypt takes you back to the earliest days of Milan, as it was built on the site of the Roman forum and the flooring of the crypt dates from that era. Inside the crypt is a remarkable replica of the tomb of Christ. This crypt can be visited at a discount or even for free by holders of the Milan pass.