The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year and offers a great art experience.
The famous art gallery, founded in 1618 by Archbishop Federico Borromei is famous for the world’s artistic masterpieces and manuscripts, preserved to this day from the Middle Ages. Nine years before the creation of the Pinacoteca, the archbishop had already made room on the first floor for a library, where he collected rare and valuable editions brought from Western Europe, Syria and Greece.
IMPORTANT: the pale yellow two-story building with the sign “Bibliotheca Ambrosiana” is the back of the structure. After walking around it, you will notice a large black door, which is the entrance.
What to see in Ambrosiana
The modern gallery displays rare manuscripts from the monastic order of St. Benedict and the library of Gian Vincenzo Pinelli. There are also 12 manuscript materials of Leonardo da Vinci and more than 10,000 paintings of painters of the 14th-19th centuries and some works of Virgil, Aristotle and others.
All the masterpieces of art are kept in the 23 halls of the Ambrosian Gallery, named after the patron saint of the city. The first floor is entirely devoted to paintings, sketches and manuscripts from the founder’s personal collection, while the second floor is occupied by exhibits added to the collection after his death.
Real connoisseurs of art will certainly appreciate the exhibits of the Ambrosian Gallery in Milan, because it is here one can enjoy the rarest masterpieces of different eras. For example, in this particular art gallery you can see Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus, representing the great master’s drawings, sketches and observations on large-format sheets.
Da Vinci’s lifelong manuscript collection originally included over a thousand drawings, manuscripts and sketches documenting his scientific research from 1478, when he was still laboring in his hometown near Florence, to 1519, the year of his death in the small town of Amboise.
This rare collection contains the speculations of the genius in the fields of mechanics, hydraulics, mathematics, astronomy, apparatus and devices, and other important subjects.
Immediately after the death of the genius, the collection of manuscripts passed to his successor Francesco Melzi, who preserved it throughout his life. Alas, it was subsequently dismantled by sketchy buyers eager for profit.
The name “Codex Atlanticus” was given to the collection by the sculptor Pompeo Leoni in the seventeenth century. He put it together and named it after the large format pages resembling a large album.
The reconstructed manuscript was in storage in the Louvre in the 18th century and then moved to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan. The Federican Hall is the place where parts of the relic are on display, replaced every 3 months.
Among the masterpieces of painting that are a must-see are:
The controversy surrounding Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of a Musician continues unabated. Many luminaries of science believe that the genius managed to capture only the musician’s head, and that someone else drew the hands and musical signs.
Next to Da Vinci’s work is a “Portrait of a Woman” dedicated to one of Italy’s most beautiful princesses, Beatrice D’Este, whose wedding ceremony to the Duke of Milan, Lodovico Sforza, was organized by Leonardo himself.
In the gallery is an elaborate copy of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, which belongs to the brush of the painter Vespino.
There are also many busts and statues of famous artists. The gallery is usually not busy with tourists, which allows you to leisurely contemplate the masterpieces of art and have a nice time.
There are streetcars No12, No14, No16, No27, No2 to the destination. Get off at the Orefici Cantu stop.
Piazza Pia XI, 2, 20123, Ambrosiana, Milan; It is open every day from 10.00 to 17.30, except Mondays; Every year the gallery is closed on December 25, January 1, Easter Day and May 1.
IMPORTANT: One hour before closing time, visitors are not allowed into the museum.
Tickets can be easily purchased on site and are €15. A discount is available for students.
Additional information you may need:
- Photography and videotaping of the interior of the Pinakothek is prohibited, but the ban does not apply to the courtyards and the gallery building itself;
- There is no checkroom in the gallery;
- There is no audio guide in Russian;
Excursions to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, which last approximately two to three hours, must be booked in advance. Russian-speaking individual guides will thoroughly explain the history of the art gallery and its masterpieces. The price of the tour does not include the cost of the ticket.
The Ambrosian Pinacoteca in Milan: Creepy paintings and Da Vinci’s famous codex
There are two pinacoteca in Milan that I suggest you visit. They are the Brera Gallery and the Ambrosiana Pinacoteca in Milan. Biblioteca Ambrosiana was opened in 1609 , at first it was just a public library. It contains the Atlantic Codex of Da Vinci, the works of Petrarch and an ancient edition of the Illiad, dating back to the 5th century.
Also, for example, a copy of The Last Supper. The Pinacoteca is located in a beautiful old palace, and inside it is very interesting. The main thing is that it is located very close to the central Duomo square – right in the center of the city.
1. Brief historical reference
The Picture Gallery appeared in the public Library of Ambrosian in 1618. Cardinal Federico Borromeo donated from his personal collection of 250 art objects to the library. Among them were paintings and sculptures and valuable books.
The entrance to the Pinacoteca (this is actually the exit, you can’t get to the exhibition through this entrance):
Here is the right entrance, it is on the other side of the building:
Enter through this door:
Three years later, Cardinal opens the Accademia Ambrosiana, a place where young, talented students could learn the fine arts.
The museum has 24 rooms featuring works from the fourteenth to the twentieth century. Five of them are occupied by the Borromeo collection.
Today it is one of the most popular museums in Milan.
2. Useful information
2.1 Where to go
Address: Piazza Pio XI, 2.
Location on the map:
2.2 How to get there
The Accademia Brera is a sight to see, but the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is within walking distance of the Duomo. Go straight ahead on Via Orefici Cantu to the third intersection. On the left side is the intersection with Via Cesare Cantù . Go forward 2 to 3 minutes and you will immediately see the entrance of the Pinacoteca.
A view in Via Cesare Cantù:
- You can also take the metro to Cordusio and Duomo stations and then walk a few minutes.
- If you bought a hop-on/hop-off tourist bus ticket, the Duomo stop will suit you.
- Streetcar 12, 14, 16, 27, 2 to the station Orefici Cantu .
You can also get to the Pinacoteca with a guided tour – for example, a very interesting tour of Milan that takes you to the Ambrosian Pinacoteca as well – “Leonardo da Vinci’s Traces in Milan”. The guide will tell you about the exhibits of the Pinacoteca and other interesting places associated with the name of the great inventor. It costs 144 euros for a group of up to 10 people. It is advantageous if you are traveling with family or friends.
2.3 Visiting hours
All days except Monday: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- 15 euros for adults;
- 10 euros for children, seniors (over 65) and students;
- 13 euros if you have a MilanoCard (you can read more about this discount card here).
You have to buy tickets on the other side of the building, that’s where the entrance to the exhibition is:
You can also buy a ticket and take an audio guide if you buy the tour for 16.50 euros. A great option!
Or here is another option – a tour with an English speaking guide and tickets to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the Last Supper in Santa Maria del Grazio – costs 75 euros .
2.5 Official website
Official website: www.ambrosiana.eu
3. Photo gallery overview
The Pinacoteca is located in the building of the Ambrosian Palace. Recall that St. Ambrosius (Ambrose) is the patron saint of the city. It’s very beautiful inside! Huge library with antique books and wooden shelves, spacious palace halls with chic interiors.
3.1 The Pinakothek building and interiors
You can leave an umbrella on the left and scan a ticket on the right:
This is also where the current library is located:
The entrance to the corridors of the Pinacoteca:
Very nice staircase and absolutely no visitors, amazing:
There is also a small inner courtyard. To go from the halls to the halls, you have to go outside:
Keep this in mind if you plan to leave outerwear in the checkroom – it can be quite chilly in winter:
3.3 Pinakothek Exhibitions
There’s a lot to see here – more than 10,000 exhibits.
The entire exhibit can be divided into several areas:
- Library, Da Vinci’s Atlantic Codex originals;
- The collection of Borromeo paintings;
- Objects of Art.
The stained glass windows are as if built into the interior:
Paintings in just the right light, almost all paintings are illuminated, so that the colors seem brighter than they really are:
Among other things, lots of ancient astronomical instruments, such as armillary spheres (similar to small globes) – they were used to determine the coordinates of celestial bodies. By the way, one of the largest armillary spheres (as tall as a man) is in the Galileo Galilei Museum in Florence. Here are also quite small devices:
Very interesting interiors – behind a column in a small nook you can find a famous painting:
Egyptian Obelisks, a copy of such an obelisk we saw in Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul:
I liked that inside there are no crowds like in Brera, you can relax on the sofas:
3.4 Famous Paintings of the Pinakothek
Most of the paintings came to the Ambrosiana from private collections. There are also quite unique pieces of art here:
- Cardboard for Raphael’s School of Athens;
- casts that Michelangelo made for Laocoon and the Pieta;
- Rare sculptures by Leoni;
- Paintings by Botticelli and Titian;
- “Portrait of a Musician” by Leonardo da Vinci;
- Caravaggio’s “Basket of Fruit.”
The last two works are recognized as the most valuable in the art museum.
Creepy, but you’ll see quite a few of these paintings, apparently it was common in those days:
Another valuable thing is a collection of copies of famous paintings. For example, a scroll with a copy of The Last Supper. If you remember, the original is also in Milan, in the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie. Unfortunately, the original has suffered a lot over the years, and the lower part of the fresco was removed by the monks themselves.
You will also see
- Ghirlandaio’s “Adoration of the Child.”
- “Vechellio’s Adoration of the Magi;
- “Botticelli’s Madonna under the Canopy.
3.5 The Library and the Da Vinci Code
The Pinacoteca houses Da Vinci’s Atlantic Codex. It is an amazing collection of the great master’s notes and drawings. They were separate sheets, but Pompeo Leoni, who got his hands on them, compiled them into a single manuscript.
Entrance to Leonardo’s room:
A copy of the Last Supper. The original is also in Milan, in the refectory of the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie:
Another work by Da Vinci’s brush:
In addition, you’ll see 12 texts written in Da Vinci’s hand in the library.
The room with the ancient books, the Ambrosian library, just struck me:
The lights dimmed so as not to spoil the books, and on the stands are the original sheets of Da Vinci’s codex:
Here’s the original from the Da Vinci Codex:
Probably one of the most impressive spectacles in this museum is precisely the library room with the Atlantic Codex, a must visit!
3.6 Gift Shop and Exit
After the library you get to the gift store. It is also decorated in the style of the library, but the publications on the shelves are modern:
Nice souvenirs for aspiring artists:
You can even buy a copy of the codex:
Good art publications, a whole booth dedicated to Leonardo:
Strange exit behind the curtains:
Most of all it was interesting to see Da Vinci’s original codex, the Pinacoteca itself has some pretty creepy paintings on display, so I wouldn’t recommend going with young children. I, of course, understand that it’s great art, but it was too much for me.
But the interiors are very beautiful, a real palace. It takes an hour and a half to look around – there are a lot of rooms, you can’t see everything at once. I think that art lovers will appreciate all the charm of this place.
The entrance and exit are on different sides of the building. I left my umbrella at the entrance – then I had to go around the whole building and return for it. It’s best not to leave clothes in the checkroom, because in the cold season it will be chilly on the passage between the halls.
It turns out that very few tourists know about the Pinacoteca of Milan. Have you ever been in one? Perhaps you visited the Brera Pinacoteca? Where did you like it best? I would recommend visiting both, as each has its own “zest”, its own interesting artifacts and objects of art.
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