Cultural Italy Blog: Art, Coffee & Love

Arco della Pace: French heritage in the heart of Milan


Milan is well known for its museums, theaters and numerous architectural attractions. However, as far as the weather is getting better and the sun warms up more and more cozy streets of this Italian city, we think it is the right moment to speak about open air monuments of the capital of Expo-2015.

If you are going to Milan to visit the Universal Exhibition of this year, or if this city is just a short shopping break on your cultural route passing through the major Italian assets, there are several outdoor must-see Milanese spots. One of them is definitely the Arco della Pace  (“Arch of Peace”).

This one & only Triumphal Arch of Milan is dating back to the beginning of the XIX century and represents one of the key-moments of the history of this city. Celebratory and symbolic, Arco della Pace is a landmark commemorating a sumptuous and lavish presence of Napoleon. Did you know that Milan had been under the French domination for some years? Indeed! From 1796 till 1815 it was invaded by the legendary Buonaparte and his great army. This short but intense occupation period had brought to the city a number of architectural achievements. And Arco della Pace founded in 1807 is perhaps the most representative of them.

Strategically and symbolically located at the beginning of corso Sempione street, the axis that ideally links Milan and Paris, the Napoleonic Empire, the Arch of Peace is a real masterpiece of architecture. It is embellished with graceful statues made of marble, bronze and stucco, and with elegant bas-reliefs representing historical scenes.

The 16 Corinthian columns are another part of the Arch’s charming and pompous decoration. The size of the Arch is significant too. It counts about 25 m in high and 24 m in wide. Quite huge!!

Today the Arch is a monumental gate toward the city center and its main touristic attractions: the vast and green Parco Sempione, Castello Sforzesco, Arena, the famous design museum La Triennale di Milano and, further away, the snow-white Duomo.

The Arch and the piazza around it are a great example of warm and comfy Italian public space. In fact, what can be more pleasant than to sit and enjoy a morning cup of cappuccino observing the ancient heart of modern Milan?

Maria Novozhilova

twitter: @NovozhilovaM