Many renowned Italian and international personalities repose in Milan’s most famous cemetery, the Monumental Cemetery (Cimitero Monumentale in Italian), such a sumptuous and majestic sight to be considered one of the most architecturally valuable monuments in Italy. Set just a short distance from the heart of the city, this graveyard complex is a true sight of interest both for locals and tourists thanks to the beauty of its buildings and to the harmony between its parts, which turn it into a true open-air museum.
A masterpiece of architecture
Located just a stone’s throw from the historic Brera district and from Milan’s Arena, this huge architectural complex was built in 1837 to satisfy the need for a spacious graveyard gathering all the remains of Milanese, reposing up to that moment into small, outlying cemeteries. Monumental Cemetery is a stunning example of Art Nouveau and Symbolism achieved from a perfect meld of sumptuous Byzantine, Gothic and Romanic traces, together with delicate colour contrast obtained by the combination of pure white and greenish-grey marbles, born from a project by Milanese architect Carlo Maciachini. Walking through its pathways surrounded by green trees, it’s easy to spot true works of art, result of the creative genius of important Italian artists such as Lucio Fontana, Antonio Canova, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Giò Ponti, Gae Aulenti and Mario Palanti. Among these, visitors can admire mausoleums, commemorative monuments, obelisks and majestic statues, as well as tombs recalling of Greek temples. A luxuriant vegetation made of spruces and cypresses, symbol of the most historical funeral tradition inherited from the Etruscan and the Latin costumes enrich the yet sumptuous scenery offered by Milan’s most famous graveyard; a true testament handed down by great architects from the past centuries to future generations.
A graveyard for the Great
Being burial sight of great personalities active in different fields, among which Ukrainian pianist Vladimir Horowitz, Milanese painter Francesco Hayez, Herbert Kilpin, founder of soccer club A.C. Milan, Anna Kuliscioff, founder of Italian Socialist Party and writer Alda Merini, the Monumental Cemetery is a scenografic and sumptuous monument to the eminent characters who had a strong impact on political, civil and artistic history of the city of Milan. The traces of Milan’s great history are already visible in the first building just past the entrance gates, known as the ‘Famedio’ (see below photo), a monumental edifice built in marble and bricks whose ceilings feature frescoed vaults, rose windows and spectacular contrasting colours with a prevailing cobalt tone. Writers like Alessandro Manzoni and Carlo Cattaneo repose in its spaces, designed to host the remains and the names of the Italian personalities who boosted the development and growth of the city. Other important characters for Milan’s history like, for instance, Achille Castiglioni, Luca Beltrami, Carlo Forlanini and Salvatore Quasimodo rest in peace in one of the nearby tombs. The beauty of the Monumental Cemetery also lies on important chapels and niches commemorating the fallen in Nazi lagers during the Second World War, as well as funeral monuments belonging to the most renowned families of Milanese industrial bourgeoisie; an heritage able to keep unaltered its beauty and allure withstanding the test of time.
TIP: Book a walking tour!
Walking tours to discover the monumental masterpieces of the graveyard are held by volunteers from the no-profit org Amici del Monumentale (Friends of Milan Monumental Cemetery). Some of these visits include a stop at tombs where lovers repose (held on 14 February – Valentine’s Day), a tour of the tombs of great women who have made a statement in history (on 8 March – International Women’s Day) and graveyards of mothers (on 13 may – Mother’s Day). Each event is organized for a minimum number of 10 guests in the following languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, and Germany. A minimum donation to the association is required.
Check availability (the sooner the better) by writing at firstname.lastname@example.org