Church of San Carlo at the Corso

Piazza San Carlo, 1. (Open Map)


On one side of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, a few steps away from Piazza San Babila, lies the Basilica di San Carlo al Corso, a neoclassical building that was completed in 1847.
The basilica was built to replace the medieval church of Santa Maria dei Servi, present from the beginning of the fourteenth century and demolished during the new urban developments taking place in the historical centre in the nineteenth century.
The complex, which is inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and has many similarities with the church of San Francesco di Paola in Naples, was designed by architect Carlo Amati and was built in thanksgiving for the end of a cholera epidemic. In fact, the church is dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo, the great bishop of Milan who had dedicated himself to the plague epidemics of the sixteenth century.
The exterior has a colonnaded facade that extends around the sides forming a square piazza, opening onto Corso Vittorio Emanuele and consisting of 36 columns of Baveno granite. The huge dome rests on a cylindrical structure decorated with columns, windows and niches.
Inside the space is dominated by a large circular room, surrounded by red granite columns that skim the walls, open by exedras that form the chapels.
In 1948-49 Giovanni Testori frescoed the canvases in the nave inside the Basilica but had to immediately cover his work up as it was considered unsuitable for a church, being too close to Picasso’s style. Currently the frescoes are still hidden.