Porta Romana

Piazza Medaglie d'Oro, 1. (Open Map)


The city gate named Porta Romana is at the bottom of Corso Porta Romana, in Piazzale Medaglie d’Oro. The arch was inspired by Imperial Roman arches and built to celebrate the arrival of Maria Margherita of Austria in Milan, who stayed in the city for two months from 30th November 1598. She was on her way to Madrid in to marry Philip III of Spain, heir to the throne. For the occasion, the citizen council oversaw the building of the triumphal arch in Piazzale Medaglie d’Oro, according architect Martino Bassi's design.
On the right of the gate, there is a small portion of the Spanish city walls, whose construction began in 1545. The walls surrounded the city, and the various gates were also customs posts.
It is worth considering other aspects in order to gain an idea of the city’s identity in the past.
For example, there were some splendid private gardens, carefully concealed from the public gaze, and other such jewels that still today are jealously protected. The ancient city walls are a case in point. You have to use your imagination, because today, modernity has taken the upper hand. However the remains are still there to remind us of the city’s history.
The first city walls were known as the “Republican walls” (220 B.C.).
From then on, the city expanded, and city walls were rebuilt successively further out: Ancient Roman, Mediaeval, and so forth.
After Frederick Barbarossa’s attacks on the city in about 1162, fortifications were improved in order to give the city greater protection. Six gates were built in this period, namely: Porta Nova, Porta Orientale, Porta Romana, Porta Ticinese, Porta Jovia and Porta Vercellese (in 1796, the number of gates had increased to eleven). Traces of the different city walls can still be seen today.
Other fragments of the Spanish walls (that in part make up the external walls of new buildings) begin in Piazzale Medaglie d’Oro, continue along the left hand side of Viale Filippetti, then into Viale Beatrice d’Este. Another bastion, now protected by railings, is located between Viale Montenero and Viale Caldara where it meets Viale Regina Margherita.
There are many local folk songs about the Porta Romana district, which generated all sorts of stories and legends.
Piazzale Medaglie d’Oro, where the thermal baths of Milan were once found, was also the location of a special tram terminus in the 1930s. This particular tram was painted black and travelled to Musocco Cemetery, providing funeral services for less wealthy citizens.