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The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is situated in the heart of Milan, easy to reach from Secondo Pensiero b&b. In the homonymous square, where the legendary Biffi and the colorful Bar Magenta are located, the church is halfway between Palazzo delle Stelline and the refectory where Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper (il Cenacolo) draws thousands of art-loving visitors.
The building, representative of Renaissance art and, nowadays, an official Unesco heritage, is an impressive architectural work, emblem of Catholic religiosity, strongly linked to Leonardo da Vinci's famous fresco, the Last Supper. Its construction began in 1463 on a project by Solari, head of the works. The church was completed almost twenty years later, in 1482.
Subsequent changes, which are attributed to Bramante, have led to the extension of the church structure, which now shows a large semicircular apses, a majestic dome, the cloister and the refectory.
The church has seven square chapels on each side, done by Solari, except the last on the left, dedicated to the Virgin of Grace. After the construction, the most important families of the city requested the authorisation to bury their family members and entrusted their decoration to important artists of the time such as Antonello da Messina and Gaudenzio Ferrari.
The convent is built around three kiosks, on the north side there is the church, on the other three sides there is a portico of columns with gothic capitals with smooth leaves. Along the portico there are the ancient Chapel of Graces, the rooms of the Chapter, the Locutorium and the library.
The southern side is entirely occupied by the refectory, containing both the Crucifixion by the Milanese painter Montorfano, and the famous Cenacolo di Da Vinci. Known as the Last Supper, this is considered among the best known and important works of the italian genius and is the only “affresco” by Leonardo Da Vinci visible today. The painting is based on the Gospel of John, in which Jesus announces that he will be betrayed by one of his apostles: Judas.
Dawn is the best time to visit Santa Maria delle Grazie church, but any time is good to admire it from any angle.
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