Monumental Cemetery of Milan: an open-air museum for all Milanese

The Monumental Cemetery is one of the most representative monuments of Milan and it could not be otherwise, since it was born in 1866 as a cemetery open to all Milanese “to all forms and all fortunes”. This connotation has changed over the years and rather than being a cemetery for everyone, it has become, as the word “monumental” itself says, a real hymn to Milanese spirit , dedicated not only to the deceased but appointed to be a piece of history of Milan.

Would you like to know more? We tell you its history, which tombs are found, how to get there, timetables and everything you need to know in this guide.

Milan Monumental Cemetery: history and characteristics

As for its origins, the cemetery was created by Carlo Maciachini and is located in the square of the same name, Monumentale, which today is also a Lilac metro stop.

Its inauguration took place in 1866 but in reality it was thought of its construction years earlier when the Municipality of Milan announced a competition for the design of a single cemetery that would convey the burials distributed in the six peripheral cemeteries. An initiative that, however, did not have much following, so much so that it had to wait until 1860 to announce a new competition and it was only in 1863 that there was a winner, precisely the architect Carlo Maciachini, a native of Induno Olona , who after having designed the Monumental was successful in funerary architecture.

On November 2, 1866 , a date certainly not accidental, the Cemetery, although incomplete,  was opened with a solemn ceremony and blessed by Monsignor Calvi.

Its current surface is 250 thousand square meters and Maciachini in designing it was inspired by the era in which he lived and by the trends of the period: there are in fact forms of the Gothic, Lombard and Pisan Romanesque and Byzantine-style inserts that make what is considered to rise. a real “open-air museum”  almost as a model of Italian eclecticism and funerary architecture.

Monumental Cemetery Milan: the tombs

As for its structure, the cemetery is made up of 3 distinct areas : the central and larger one which is dedicated to the deceased Catholics , the one on the left for non- Catholics and the one on the right which is the so-called “allotment of the Israelites” .

As for the larger area, looking at the Monumental Cemetery from via Ceresio, the first thing you find is the Famedio . The Italian term derives from the Latin “famae aedes” and stands for temple of fame .

It is a voluminous construction in marble and bricks that initially should have been a church while it is the place where the illustrious Milanese are buried, considered as an “open work”: in fact, only those who were famous in the past should have been buried there but be continually enriched with the names of people who are committed to improving Milan.

This is why every year , with a ceremony that takes place on November 2, other names are inserted into the walls of the Famedio by decision of the City Council . including characters who are not buried here but who have made the history of Milan or have artistic merits. There are for example the names of Ugo Foscolo, Cavour, Montale, De Chirico, Fontana, Boccioni and many others.

Directly buried in the Famedio were Alessandro Manzoni (when the Famedio was not completed), Carlo Cattaneo , Luca Beltrami , Leo Valiani , Bruno Munari , Carlo Forlanini and Salvatore Quasimodo .

Also part of the Famedio is the Crypt in which characters belonging to a more recent history such as Giorgio Gaber and Alda Merini, Giuseppe Meazza and Candido Cannavò are buried.

Continuing along the corridors on the right side, you come across the Israelite Troop, opened in 1872, which is separated from the rest of the cemetery by a wall. It is divided into 6 fields and an extension and there are 3 common fields dedicated to children.

Then in the cemetery there are funeral monuments dedicated to various illustrious Milanese families such as the Falck, Bocconi, Branca families etc …

Monumental Cemetery Milan: opening hours and days

The Monumental Cemetery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8 to 18 and closed on non-holiday Mondays. You can enter up to 30 minutes after closing. The opening on public holidays goes from 8 to 13. From Tuesday to Friday, Holy Mass is celebrated at 11.

Monumental Cemetery Milan: prices

The Monumental Cemetery is priceless, which means that it is free to enter .

Monumental Cemetery: guided tours

Do you prefer to see it in the company of a guide who shows you everything? The Municipality’s Funeral and Cemetery Services Area organizes guided tours  thanks to the volunteers of the Civil Service. The visits are free but with reservations required.

On the website of the municipality of Milan you can find the various dates: they are generally organized on Saturdays and Sundays while midweek visits can be requested for groups of at least 5 people, obviously depending on availability.

The guided tour lasts an hour and a half and the meeting is at the Infopoint of the Monumentale, if you can avoid heels because the paving of the avenues is gravel (more for a matter of comfort than for anything else).

Monumental Cemetery: events

Every last Sunday of the month until October, the free exhibition “Monumental: Open Air Museum” is held with a series of events that bring together theater, music, cinema and thematic walks to tell the Monumental Cemetery and its beauties.

Monumental Cemetery of Milan: how to get there

How to reach the Monumental by public transport? In so many ways:

  • Metro: M2 Garibaldi stop, M5 Monumental stop
  • Bus 94 with stop at Porta Volta
  • Tram: 2, 4, 33 (Farini stop), 10 (Monumental stop), 12 and 14 (Bramante stop)
  • Train: Garibaldi railway station.

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