Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio

Piazza Sant'Eustorgio, 3. (Open Map)


This is one of the oldest churches in Milan. It was founded in the 4th century, and rebuilt in the 19th century. Sant’Eustorgio originally housed the relics of the Three Kings, which were later subtracted and taken to Cologne by Frederick Barbarossa. However, from the 13th century on, the church took on an important role, becoming the principal location for the Dominican Order in Milan from 1227.
The Basilica’s architectural structure is particularly complex. The interior has three naves. To the basic Romanesque building, many chapels were added over the centuries following the church’s foundation, above all on its right-hand side. Two of these chapels are particularly significant: the Brivio Chapel, dating to 1484, with a Renaissance tomb and a triptych by Bergognone; and the Portinari Chapel, built from 1462 on, commissioned by Pigello Portinari, and an example of Florentine art in Milan. Inside, the upper sections of the walls were frescoed by Foppa between 1466 and 1468. The frescoes were rediscovered in 1871 (they had been obscured by layers of plaster), and restored in 1915.
Since the start of 2011 the exterior facades of the noble chapels have been brightened by soft permanent night lighting which enhances the beauty of the architecture and the purity of the brick decoration, a few years since the preservative restoration (1999). The crowning glory of the installation is the star light on the bell tower, reminiscent of the star that guided the Three Kings.
For centuries, the procession of the Three Kings has been held every year on the day of Epiphany. The procession starts from Piazza Duomo and reaches the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio. It is one of the oldest traditions of Milan.
The façade was restored by Giovanni Brocca in 1862, and in this operation, houses that had been built abutting the façade were demolished. On the left side of the façade, there is a loggia (or pulpit) built in 1597, from which Cardinal Federico Borromeo preached in 1630. It is an ancient tradition that archbishops on their way to take up office in Milan enter the city through Porta Ticinese, and visit Sant’Eustorgio as their first stop.
The permanent night lighting and the star light were created by the architect Filippo Panzera creating a sort of contemporary scenic painting that enhances the charm of the ancient architecture. The lamps and materials used are noteworthy for their energy efficiency and are part of a series of decorative lighting installations implemented in 2011 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Municipal Electric Company. The same installations that enhance the windows of the Duomo, the Museum of Science and Technology and the facade of the Stazione Centrale.
The Basilica is an important location for art as well as for its religious significance. The Portinari Chapel has a dome frescoed with religious stories, probably painted by Vincenzo Foppa. A painting (attributed to Benedetto Bembo) in the Chapel shows the banker Pigello Portinari, kneeling in front of St. Peter Martyr.