About Santa Maria Delle Grazie
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Santa Maria Delle Grazie is a church located in the northern city of Milan. Popularly also known as Holy Mary of Grace, this church also works as a Dominican convent in the city. Built by famous architects Guiniforte Solari and Donato Bramante, Santa Maria Delle Grazie was built between 1463 to 1467 during the reign of Duke of Milan Francesco I Sforza. The architectural style of this church is regarded as Gothic and Renaissance and is one of the most beautiful churches in Italy.
Other than a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this church is a very popular tourist destination. It is also one of the highly visited historic churches in Milan and Italy. During World War II, due to the involvement of Italy in the war, the church was attacked by a couple of aerial attacks. A major portion of the refectory was demolished and a few walls of the outer side of the church were also destroyed.
Many tourists visit Santa Maria Delle Grazie to see the painting of Last Supper. It is located in a small room inside the church and only a limited number of visitors are allowed to enter the room at a time. Due to the immense popularity of the church and its historic value, the tickets for the church are sold-out in advance.
How to Reach Santa Maria Delle Grazie
The distance between Santa Maria Delle Grazie and Lamezia Terme Airport is 20 km. The several ways to reach Santa Maria Delle Grazie are
By Train: You would have to take a train from Lamezia Terme Station and get down at Reggio Calabria Station. After getting down at Calabria Station, you will have to take another train that goes to Santa Maria station. This full train journey will take around 1 hour.
By Bus: Bus is one of the cheapest modes of transport in Milan and one can take a bus from Lamezia Terme Airport up to Condofuri Marina. Get down at Condofuri Marina and take another bus up to Santa Maria Delle Grazie. The entire bus journey will take around 1.30 hours.
By private Cab/Taxi: Hiring a Cab or Taxi is the most suitable mode of transport to reach Santa Maria Delle Grazie from Lamezia Terme Airport. This 20 km ride will take around 30 minutes as there are frequent traffic jams in Milan. The private ride can be a little heavy on your pocket but it will be the most comfortable ride from the airport to the Santa Maria Delle Grazie.
Best Time to Visit Santa Maria Delle Grazie
The church is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8.15 AM to 7 PM. If you want to avoid the rush and enjoy your visit in peace, the best time to visit Santa Maria Delle Grazie would be in the late afternoon or early in the evening i.e. around 3 pm to 4 pm. It is always recommended to book your tickets in advance to save time. During some special occasion or event like Milan Expo 2015, the church remains open till 10 PM. Make sure you check your day of visit and also check if there’s an event or not.
The best season to visit Santa Maria Delle Grazie is the Spring Season which lasts from April to October. The temperature around the city is mild and cold and during this season the maximum number of visitors visit Santa Maria Delle Grazie.
What Not to Miss at Santa Maria Delle Grazie
Santa Maria Delle Grazie is one of the most cultural places to visit in Milan. Other than its architectural and cultural significance, one can also do other activities in the church. Some of the activities are as follows:
1. Take a complete Church Tour- A complete tour of Santa Maria Delle Grazie will take around 3-3.30 hours. In this tour, one will visit every corner of the place and even some places outside and close to the church.
The tour will be conducted by a guide or a third-party affiliated with the church. You will be shown the various historical artefacts and documents that date more than 300-400 years back. Also, you will be given a detailed information seminar about the various whereabouts and historical facts of the church. This tour is perfect for visitors who are keen to know about the church in detail as it takes them through the entire life and journey of Santa Maria Delle Grazie.
2. Private tour of The Last Supper- Santa Maria Delle Grazie is home to the world-famous painting, The Last Supper. The Last Supper is a painting by the legendary Leonardo Da Vinci and is kept at Santa Maria. Painted between 1495 and 1497, the painting is located in a room inside the church. Considered as an epic in the field of art, The Last Supper is a must-see painting if you visit the church.
One can opt for the private tour of The Last Supper at the church. The tour lasts for around 20 minutes and one can get to know about the painting in-depth. The tour takes you through the yearly background and making of The Last Supper and the various factorial checks and whereabouts of the inspiration behind this masterpiece.
3. Opt for the popular Renaissance Period tour- The most significant time period in the history of Europe was the Renaissance and one can learn about the various aspects about it in the 3-hour Renaissance tour. This tour not only covers the inside of the church but also a few places outside the church in the city of Milan.
For visitors who are inclined towards learning more about the Renaissance period and history, this is a perfect tour. With live tour guide facilities in Italian, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Russian, French and German, this is the perfect activity to do in Santa Maria Delle Grazie.
4. Dinner & Night Tour- This exclusive and special tour is organised only on some days. This tour gives you a look-over of various elements and things in the church. With the beautiful interior of the church shining in the dark and the outside glowing with the lamps, Santa Maria Delle Grazie becomes a true gem of a place.
After the completion of the tour, you will be having a perfect dinner session in Eataly Smeraldo, a popular restaurant near the church. In the restaurant, you can eat a perfect Italian meal with some finest drinks in the town.
5. The Last Supper at Santa Maria Delle Grazie- Painted by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1497, the Last Supper is one of the most amazing things to see in Santa Maria Delle Grazie. The painting is one of the Western World’s most famous paintings. The painting resembles a scene as told in the Gospel of John, 13:21 from the Bible. The depiction made in the painting is when Jesus announces that one of the twelve Apostles had betrayed him.
The Last Supper is located in a room in the western corner of the church. Miraculously, the painting survived the various aerial attacks that happened on Milan during World War II (sustained minor damage). Since then, the importance and popularity of this painting grew ten times more than what it used to be.
For an art enthusiast or people interested in learning about the paintings, the Last Supper Tour at Santa Maria is the best thing to opt for. A completely detailed session on the history and motivation about the painting with some awesome information will be provided on this tour. Alongside this tour, there is another tour which you can opt for; the Dinner and the Last Supper tour. A traditional dinner after having a detailed and informative session about the Last Supper. For visitors who want to have a great Italian dinner and know about the painting in-depth, this is the best tour.
Places to Visit near Santa Maria Delle Grazie
Milan is one of the most popular and highly visited cities in Europe. Other than the Santa Maria Delle Grazie church, there are various places to visit. Below mentioned are some places to visit near Santa Maria Delle Grazie.
1. Sforza Castle- Located in the heart of Milan, this 600-year-old castle is one of the most beautiful places to see in Milan. Sforza Castle was built by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan in mid-14th Century. Sforza Castle went through modifications from years to years with the very first expansion that took place in the 16th and 17th century when it was rebuilt, which took more than 50 years.
The various gates at the castle had some major changes too. Today, the castle is a modern-day museum and centre and houses some of the oldest artefacts and paintings from all over Europe. Tourists often visit Sforza Castle and Santa Maria together as they both are the symbols of rich Italian history.
Address: Piazza Castello, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
2. Palazzo Della Ragione- Palazzo Della Ragione is one of the oldest buildings of Milan which dates back to 1228. It is located in the busy city square of Piazza Mercanti and is a great tourist place near Santa Maria Delle Grazie as it is home to some of the oldest paintings and articles of Rome.
Address: Piazza dei Mercanti, 1, 20123 Milano MI, Italy
3. Duomo di Milano- Popularly known as Milan Cathedral, this world-famous cathedral is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. With a height of 108 metres (354 feet), it is the biggest cathedral in Italy and third-biggest in the world.
This legendary cathedral is one of the finest places to visit near Santa Maria Delle Grazie as its wonderful architecture will leave you in awe. It is also one of the most picturesque cathedrals in the world. The white cathedral turns into gold when the several hundred lamps near the cathedral throw their light on the cathedral. Duomo di Milano can accommodate around 40,000 people at a time and it is a popular praying hall. The French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned as the King of Italy in the main hall of Duomo di Milano.
Address: Via Carlo Maria Martini, 120122 Milan
Other Essential Information About Santa Maria Delle Grazie
Location: Santa Maria Delle Grazie, 87067 Province of Cosenza, Italy
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 8.15 AM to 7 PM (Closed on Mondays)
Entry Fee: 10 € per person and an additional 2€ booking fee.
For nationals of a country from the EU and EES, tickets start from 2€ and an additional 2€ booking fee.
Distance from Nearest Airport: The nearest airport from Santa Maria Delle Grazia is Lamezia Terme International Airport. The distance between the airport and the church is 20 km.
History of Santa Maria Delle Grazie
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by the orders of Duke of Milan Francesco I Sforza in 1463. At the site of the church was an existing chapel which was then replaced by this magnificent church.
Throughout its building years from 1463 to 1497, the main architects of Santa Maria Delle Grazie were Donato Bramante and Guiniforte Solari. The church was home to numerous sculptures and paintings out of which a few were destroyed or stolen. One of Titian’s paintings, The Crowning with Thorns, was stolen by French Soldiers and is now kept in the Louvre in Paris. Santa Maria Delle Grazie has been the primary praying place in Milan for years immemorial. At a time, it was also home to Giovanni Perronu’s finest music-making sessions.
The Architecture of Santa Maria Delle Grazie
This Gothic-monument is one of the most beautiful churches in Italy. Other than its Gothic history, the church also resembles the Italian form of architecture. The architecture planning for this church began in the late 1450s and the final execution was started in 1463.
Throughout the making of the plan and its execution, the two primary architects who not only planned but also started the building work were Donato Bramante and Guiniforte Solari. The architecture of Santa Maria Delle Grazie is similar to that of Santa Maria Alla Fontana, a church located in Milan.
The Basilica at Santa Maria Delle Grazie
The large Basilica at Santa Maria Delle Grazie is a true architectural wonder. With the dome-shaped roof and some amazing wall painting and art, the Basilica at the church is one of the biggest basilica in Italy. This Roman building was home to many cultural events and gatherings during the time of the earlier Roman Kingdoms.
The Basilica is now a praying centre with benches and many locals and tourists often visit it and offer their prayers. Many tourists also visit the Basilica to see the dome and various glass paintings and wall-art. Though some of the work has been disturbed and destroyed due to the various attacks during World War II, most of the designs in Basilica are still at their original place and restored.