An elegant Neoclassical architecture stands gallantly at one of Milan’s oldest city gates surrounded by lush green oasis. The Arco della Pace is freely accessible and one not to miss!
Arco della Pace or the Arch of Peace is an elegant Neoclassical architecture and a symbol of Milan. It stands at Porta Sempione, one of the five oldest of the City’s gates. This symbolic monument is surrounded by the largest lush green oasis of this fashion capital, Parco Sempione, which is a popular tourist attraction in itself. The area is freely accessible and the Arco della Pace is an unmissable attraction when visiting Milan.
History of Arco della Pace
Designed by architect Luigi Cagnola in 1807, it echoes Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. It was originally named Arco delle Vittorie (Arch of Victory) to celebrate Napoleon’s victory. The Arch is built at the start of Corso Sempione, a road that connects Milan to Paris along the Simplon Pass. This meant that Napoleon would pass through the Arch on his way into the Italian city. However, with Napoleon’s fall in 1814, this Neoclassical facade was left unfinished.
Post-Napoleonic era, the Arch was renamed Arco della Pace in 1815. Work resumed in 1826 and completed in 1838, in time for the crowning of Ferdinand I as King of Lombardy-Veneto. Ferdinan I dedicated the Arch to Francis I. Later, and with another change of power in 1859, the Arch was rededicated to the unified Italy. Sadly, Luigi Cagnola died in 1833, not having witnessed the completion of the Arch.
The architecture of Arco della Pace
The design of Arco della Pace is similar to the Arch of Septimius Severus at the Forum Romanum in Rome. It features a large passageway along with four Corinthian columns, decorated with bas-reliefs and sculptures. At 23 metres, this monument was built using several materials, including the Baveno granite and Creola d’Ossola marble.
At the top of the Arch, there are three groups of bronze statues. The central one is of a Goddess led by six-horses – the Chariot of Peace, sculpted by Abbondio Sangiorgio. The statues on either side of the arch were created by Giovanni Putti and are known as the Victories on Horseback. The sculptures were intended to face Paris but their position was modified by the Hapsburgs after Napolean’s defeat. The horses were turned 180 degrees to face the City.
Just below the statue, in the four corners of the columns are representations of the four rivers that flow through the former kingdom of Lombardy-Veneto region – Po, Ticino, Adige and Tagliamento. Bas-reliefs along the sides of the monument depict scenes of Battle of Leipzig which led to Napoleon’s defeat rather than his military victories. Other bas-reliefs depict major events in Italian history.
Practical information to support your visit
1 | Location of Arco della Pace
If you are accessing Arco della Pace via Sforzesco Castle, then it is located at the far end of Parco Sempione. Parco Sempione can be accessed at the rear of the Castle. With so many attractions in Parco Sempione, this map shows you where exactly you need to head to.
Location of Arco della Pace in Sempione Park
2 | How to get to the Arco della Pace
Attractions in Milan are all located within walking distance. If you decide to use public transport, then the following might be helpful. The starting point is from Piazza del Duomo, the central square and the meeting point for most in Milan.
Take Line 1 Subway and Line 1 Tram
This journey involves a 6-minute transfer
From the Duomo, take the Metro (M1) to Cadorna Fn . Journey is 3 minutes and costs 2 Euros.
At Cadorna, change to Tram 1. A 8-minute journey to Arco della Pace and costs 2 Euros.
Take Line 1 Tram
From the Duomo Metro Station, walk to Cordusio M1 – about 4 minutes.
Board Tram 1 to Arco della Pace. Journey is about 20 minutes, costs 2 Euros
Alternatively, you can take a taxi which costs around 8 Euros.
When visiting Milan, consider joining a tour or two to learn about the history of the City. If you are a foodie, join a food tour so you get to experience the authentic Milanese restaurants that only the local experts know. If time permits, get away from the City for a day and experience the Lake Districts or the mountains or better still, visit a neighbour!
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – Why you should visit and what you need to Experience
“Milan’s drawing room” is no ordinary drawing room! A symbol of Milanese style and wealth, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II famously known as ” il salotto di Milano” is a sophisticated, architecturally stunning 19th century shopping gallery. This elegant galleria is home to some of the most luxurious names in the fashion world, international chains, and gourmet eateries. Even if you do not want to splash out on a thing or two here, the Galleria is a must see destination solely for its architectural marvel when visiting Milan.
About the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is more than just a “spot of shopping”. It is a landmark of the City of Milan, with 160 years of history and one of the oldest shopping gallery still standing. A visit here will not only have you look-up at the glass-dome but will also have you look-down exploring the beautifully crafted intricate mosaic floor.
1 | The design
The extraordinary Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a four-storey double arcade, shaped like a cross. It is dominated by a stunning neoclassical iron and glass dome at 50 metres high. The Galleria features an amazingly crafted mosaic floor and an archway.
The archway connects the two most historical piazzas in Milan – Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Scala.
The beautiful mosaic floor contains four distinct designs, representing the coat of arms of Rome, Florence, Turin and Milan. Rome is represented y a She-wolf together with Romulus and Remus. Florence is the Lily flower. Milan is Red Cross on a white background. As for Turin, it’s a Dancing Bull (pictured below). In the central dome of the Galleria is surmounted by stunning mosaics that represents Asia, Africa, America and Europe.
Legend of the Dancing Bull
The mosaic of the Dancing Bull of Turin attracts hundreds of visitors daily because of a legend associated with it. According to the legend, if you place your heel on a particular “spot” (between his two hind legs) and turn around three times, with eyes closed, it will bring you good fortune. Millions of visitors must have done this over the years because there is a hollow on the mosaic.
This architectural marvel was designed in 1861 by Guiseppe Mengoni. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was built between 1865 and 1877 in honour of the first king of the realm, King Vittorio Emanuele II. However, sadly, Guiseppe Mengoni was never present for its grand opening. He was found dead under some scaffolding a few days prior. Some believed Mengoni died of a heart attack, while others say that he took his own life because he couldn’t face the criticism of his design. Mengoni did leave a tale of mystery and an architectural masterpiece!
From the time it was built, the Galleria became the city’s favourite. It was a meeting point, in particular with the Milanese bourgeoisie, academics and musicians such as Giuseppe Verdi, thus nicknamed “il salotto di Milano” (Milan’s drawing room) in the early 20th century. As a meeting point, it also became a place for student demonstrations, rallies and clashes with the police in the 1960s. Post this, the Galleria reinvented itself.
Today, it is more than a shopping arcade. It exudes an air of luxury boasting a string of high-end boutiques, and landmark eateries. It is a beautiful place to stroll, window-shop, people watch and dine. You’ll also see beautiful frescoes and arches throughout, which you can admire as you pass through.
An emblem of the city’s past and present, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is filled with some of the famous Italian brands. It is one of the best places to shop in the city. One of the very first Prada stores is present in the Galleria, which opened in 1913 when the business began. Despite being renovated in the year 2000, the store still contains most of its original furnishings.
Discover the top 5 brands in and around the Galleria – Giorgio Armani | Versace | Louis Vuitton | Prada | Gucci
Milan has been world-famous for its fashion since it became one of the leading textile producers of Europe in the 19th century. The City caught the eye of fashionistas across the globe and wealthy fashion houses decided to lay down their roots in the Quadrilatero where they established luxurious shops, a sensational palazzi and alluring courtyards. Nowadays, the city is a mecca for fashion lovers world-wide.
Not only is Milan the centre of fashion and design, the city is becoming increasingly popular for its gastronomical delights. There is a high number of Michelin stars , trendy and international restaurants to be found here. Going out for a meal at anytime of the day is the city’s lifestyle. Traditional cuisine of risotto and ossobuco, brioche, cocktails and trattorias are some of the favourite “must-try’s”.
Biffi has been at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II since 1852 and can be found in the south wing. This cafe is named after Paolo Biffi, a pastry chef of the Monarch in the 19th century. Cafe Biffi is the oldest cafe at the Galleria. Biffi’s main specialities are Ossobucco with Milanese risotto and the Milanese cutlet. Although there are many choices, the menu has remained largely unchanged for the last twenty-five years. To enjoy a meal at Cafe Biffi will require a booking well in advance.
Occupying a perfect spot in the Galleria overlooking the white facade of the Duomo, this bar keeps alive the ritual of the Italian aperitif (aperitivo). Back in 1897, Gaspare Campari set up his restaurant (along with his home and wine shop) in the gallery, adding his Campari location in 1915. In the 1980s, the bar’s name was changed to “Bar Camparino.” Stop in to sip an iconic Campari and soda or Negroni cocktail, while nibbling on accompanying snacks. Makes a perfect break in a long day of sightseeing.
This charming, historic bookshop has been at Galleria since 1930. The bookseller was also once the official printer of the House of Savoy and published such authors as Pellico, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Freud. One of the oldest bookstores of its kind that is still in operation.
Recommended activity: Experience the greatest sample of what Milan has to offer – taste food from only passionate and high-quality local producers, some of the best food venues that only locals know. Learn more and reserve your place >>
4 | Take a walk on the roof
The Galleria recently opened Highline Galleria – a walkway on the roof of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This exciting journey allow you, for the first time to admire the Duomo from a unique and fascinating perspective.
The walkway stretches 820 feet from Piazza Duomo to Piazza della Scala. Access is via two high-speed elevators that are located inside the courtyard at Via Silvio Pellico 2.
The rooftop walk is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00. Tickets costs €12.
Milan is a unique place with two souls – a very traditional northern Italian one alongside one that is bustling and innovative as you can find only in few European capitals. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II perfectly resembles both the traditional and the modern, bustling, innovative Milan.
It’s your turn 🙂
What do you think? Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II? Or have you visited the Galleria and wish to share your thoughts and recommendations? If so, please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.
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The Best of Milan – Sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo
Milan is the One Place where you shop till you drop, take a journey through Roman ruins, meet architecture of centuries gone-by sitting next to modern skyscrapers, experience amazing mouth-watering dishes which only the Italians have the “know-how” and enjoy a cocktail or two from terraces across the spectacularly amazing Duomo – yet the Best experience for me was walking through what seemed like a forest of towers and spires and watching the sunset from the rooftop of the Duomo, a sight to behold which should not be missed. Come with me and enjoy this splendid experience.
About the Duomo di Milano
The Gothic Cathedral of Milan, famously known as the Duomo, is an impressive glorious marble structure with slender pinnacles rising everywhere. This behemoth cathedral tells the story of faith , art and architecture spanning over six hundred years. Standing gallantly in the centre of Piazza del Duomo is the Milan Cathedral. It has been said that the exterior of the Duomo is decorated with 2,245 statues, 135 gargoyles and over 700 statues. Above all, it is the golden Madonnina, that stands high above over Milan which gives this iconic Cathedral its glorious and majestic beauty.
To take a close look at the compelling external architecture of the Duomo requires a walk on the rooftop. Access to the rooftop is via a flight of stairs or by an elevator. To make your visit that much more special, visit the rooftop in the evening and experience a sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo.
1 | Best of Milan – The rooftop of the Duomo – a sight to behold
The one experience that I would highly recommend when you visit Milan is to catch the sunset from the terraces of the Duomo. I was totally lost in the moment and overcome with a sense of calmness when I exited the lift and saw the views over Milan.
The views from the top are amazing and you can see the mountains in the distance on a clear day. Below, is the Piazza del Duomo and literally the whole of Milan under your feet! This magnificent Duomo is a true wonder! We spent over an hour at the rooftop, just taking in the sights, far, near and below.
Play the video below to immerse in the atmosphere of the best of Milan – sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo
2 | Walking through a forest of spires and statues on the rooftop of the Duomo
We walked through a forest of one-hundred and thirty-five towers and spires, and over two-thousand decorative marble statues. The close-up of the spires was an impressive sight and will have you in awe in more times than once.
We explored the rooftop via interconnecting stairways. walked the perimeter of the Cathedral, all four sides and further up to the highest possible point to have the closest view possible of Modonnina, the symbol of Milan. We stopped every few minutes to take in the view, and along with other tourists were in total awe, total strangers talking to each other and sharing this one love of wonderment. There were moments of silence too, for such moments need not be outwardly expressed. Each moment was remarkable as we witnessed the changing colours of the clear blue skies to yellow, gold and orange hues.
3 | The changing hues of the sunset over Milan from the Duomo
No words needed here…have a look at the video below – the changing colours over the City of Milan.
4 | The velvety night sky
The rich hues of the sunset gave way to the velvety dark of night as the sun sank lower draining the light of day away. You can see the star-like lights in the distance and the bright-lights from the square. The evening landscape that surrounds the Duomo was unique as it represents the old and new combined, somehow perfectly complementing each other and not being out of place. The evening drew a slight breeze, giving a chill in the autumn evening which added to the magical moments of this sunset over Milan from the rooftop of the Duomo.
5 | Madonnina at the Duomo – Symbol of Milan
To get the closest view possible of the Madonnina, walk all around the perimeter of the roof and around a corner, there is a stairway that leads further up to the highest possible point. The stairs leads you to the highest rooftop and it is from here, where you will have the closest view possible of Modonnina – the picture below.
Georgina suggests:The rooftop is at a gradient and can be slippery. Please use appropriate footwear and take care when you climb up.
6 | Reflection of my experience on the rooftop of the Duomo
The rooftop offers spectacular views over Milan. You will be totally amaze walking through what seems like never ending paths through a forest of spires and statues of all and every kind that makes the Duomo unique. If there be one thing you do in Milan, and you want it to be the Best in Milan, make it the Sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo.
I know what is “Best” to individuals may differ and you may not be a fan of cathedrals or rooftops, but for those who are on the same page as I, give the rooftop of the Duomo a go at sunset and return here to share your experiences or tag me on Instagram when you post your pictures. I look forward to connecting with each of you.
I was fortunate to experience this on a sunny day because the day before and day after rained cats and dogs! Plan well and choose your day. Purchase your tickets before visiting.
7 | Travel tips and Practical information when visiting the Duomo di Milano
7.1 | How to get to the rooftops of the Duomo
Access to the rooftop is around the back of the Duomo. You need a ticket.
There are two ways to get to the rooftop – by staircase or an elevator. If you do the Fast-track or the Skip-the-line option, you can take the lift. I highly recommend that you opt for this option because it saves you a lot of time. Moreover, this ticket is valid for 3-days and an audio-guide is included.
There are about 20 options or ways in which you could experience the Duomo di Milano. Have a look at the various choices you have and reserve well ahead of time so you do miss out on this amazing experience > here
You will find that there is a queue, regardless of whether you are on the Skip-the-line track or the not. When I visited there was only one line and I purchased the Fast-track / Skip-the-Line ticket. It wasn’t a very long queue.
Though I did not expect to wait the fifteen-minutes or so as I had literally walked into the Duomo without a queue and I expected the same with the rooftop access. It was understandable under the circumstances as there is only one operable lift, that takes about six people at a time.
Georgina suggests:The price difference between taking the stairs and the lift is not much. You can check the difference here. If you are into fitness, then take the stairs. However, if you are limited in time, take the lift and enjoy the views.
Give yourself at least 1 to 1.5 hours to really enjoy the rooftop experience
7.2 | Opening hours
The Cathedral and the Rooftop is open Everyday.
Cathedral – 8 am to 7 pm | Rooftop – 9 am to 7pm | Last entry is at 6 pm
For further details on their daily activities and prayer times, please check their official website at Duomo di Milano.
To get to the Cathedral, you will need the Piazza del Duomo. The distance between Milan’s Central Station and Piazza del Duomo is 2 miles / 3.2 km. There are Three ways to get to Milan Cathedral from Central Station. I took a taxi and it was 10 Euros. Have a look at the following and you can decide what suits you.
If you are looking for the quickest way to get from Milan’s Central Station to Piazza del Duomo is to take a taxi. It takes 7 to 10 minutes depending on traffic. It costs around 10 Euros.
If you are considering the cheapest way to get from Milan’s Central Station to Piazza del Duomo, then it is the line 3 subway which costs 3 Euros and takes 15 min. It is located right in the Piazza del Duomo.
You can take a direct bus departing from Central Station m2 m3 and arrives at via larga. It is about 7 to 9 minutes walk to Piazza del Duomo, The bus services depart every two hours, and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 13 min. Costs 3 Euros.
7.4 | Planning your trip?
Travel resources at a Glance
Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.
Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa
Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.
I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com
My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine areMillennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.
Unique experiences & tours
My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.
Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.
Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.
7.5 | Beautiful places to stay in Milan and in Milan’s neighbourhoods
Find the perfect hotel room in booking.com with flexible dates and last-minute cancellations. There are 5669 hotels and accommodations in Milan and I am certain you will find one to suit your needs – you can access booking.com here. Alternatively, stay at one of the 12 carefully selected beautiful places in Milan – hotels and aparthotels according to neighbourhoods.
Grab these latest deals in Milan!
7.6 | Find great activities to do in Milan
Find great day tours on Get Your Guide for a seamless and hassle free, skip the line experiences – Get Your Guide here.
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Finally…what do you think?
It’s your turn – what do you think? Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to experience the best of Milan – sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo? Have I missed something that should be added here? If so, please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.
Also, use the links embedded in this article and related articles to book your flights, train travel, accommodations, and activities. All of TTS’ trusted partners are reliable companies with long-standing reputation in the travel industry. You can be rest assured of good service. Using the links also means that TTS earns a commission for qualifying stays and activities completed at no cost to you at all. As always, we appreciate your support.
Have a lovely time experiencing the sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo!