Crypt of St. John in Conca

Via Alberico Albricci, 4. (Open Map)


In Piazza Missori, part of the apse and crypt of the Basilica of San Giovanni in Conca are still standing, a Romanesque church reconstructed between the 11th and 13th centuries on the ruins of one of the most important sites of Milanese paleochristian worship, constructed between the fifth and sixth centuries in an area of subsidence, hence the term “in conca” (low lying hollow). Deconsecrated at the end of 1700 and successively denuded and mutilated, the church was definitively sacrificed after World War II for the needs of city traffic which required an almost total demolition in order to open Via Albricci. After a careful restoration for preservation purposes, the crypt has become a display area and starting point for guided tours of the archaeological areas of Milan.The earliest references to the church were found in the testamentary dispositions of 879 of the Bishop Ansperto and in the evangelist of the 9th century conserved in the Ambrosian Library.The Milanese call the remains of the church: “el dent cariaa” (the decaying tooth) due to the jagged shape of the ruins still visible in Piazza Missori.The Paleochristian origins of the basilica was confirmed by the finding of a tomb, found along the walls of the church and frescoed on the sides in the 14th century. Nowadays it is possible to visit the sarcophagus in the Museo d’arte Antica of the Castello Sforzesco.The works that originally decorated the basilica are now placed in various city museums: the monument of Bernabò Visconti, the monument of Beatrice d’Este and the frescoes dating from the Paleocristian and renaissance eras are conserved in the Museo d’Arte Antica of the Castello Sforzesco: “Il Cristo crocifisso con Vergine San Giovanni Evangelista e la Maddalena” (Christ on the Cross with Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalen) from 1571 by Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo is placed in the Pinacoteca di Brera; “il Battesimo di Cristo” (Baptism of Christ) by Bernardino Lanino is in the Duomo in Busto Arsizio.