Walking in Milan…Caminando por Milán

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The city
Milan, the capital of Lombardy, has a population of 1.3 million people. It is the biggest industrial city of Italy with many different industrial sectors. It is a magnetic point for designers, artists, photographers and models. Milan has an ancient city centre with high and interesting buildings and palazzos, which is why so many people from all over the world want to see the city of glamour.
Italy’s climate is predominantly Mediterranean: Alpine in the far north; hot and dry in the south. Winter in Milan is relatively mild but foggy, with temperatures ranging from zero to 8 degrees Celsius. Summer can be very humid with brief thunderstorms; temperatures range from 14 to 29 degrees. From March through April temperatures range from 6 to 18 degrees. From October through November they range from 6 to 17 degrees.
More information about the weather in Milan (with prediction!)
Milan’s origin goes back to 400 B.C., when Gauls settled and defeated the Etruscans.
In 222 B.C. the city was conquered by Romans and was annexed to the Roman Empire. After 313 A.D., the year of the Edict of Tolerance towards Christianity, many churches were built and the first bishop was appointed: Ambrogio was such an influential person that the church became the Ambrosian Church (7 December is a holiday to honour Sant’Ambrogio). In 1300 the Visconti family which are noblemen from Bergamo, Cremona, Piacenza, Brescia and Parma ruled and brought a period of glory and wealth to the city. The Duomo was built in 1386 and became the symbol of Milan.
The Sforza family assumed the Castle and the power of the Visconti family and finally Milan achieved peace after many years of war against Venice and Florence. Under the Sforza duchy the city began the development of sciences, art and literature. Ludovico il Moro (Ludovico Sforza) called Leonardo da Vinci and “il Bramante” to his court.

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Strategically placed at the gateway to the Italian peninsula, Milan and the surrounding region of Lombardy have been the subject of constant disputes over the centuries. Celts, Romans, Goths, Lombards, Spaniards and Austrians have all ruled the city at some stage of its history and for the most part, the city has capitalised on its position and has emerged today as the undisputed economic and cultural powerhouse of a united Italy, not without occasionally fighting back against foreign dominators.
Milan’s origin goes back to 400 B.C., when Gauls settled and defeated the Etruscans against Celts who were about to overrun the city.
In 222 B.C. the city was conquered by Romans and it was annexed to the Roman Empire, getting the name of Mediolanum. It became a permanent Latin colony in 89 B.C. after few attempts to rebellions. By 42 B.C. Rome had exerted its hold over Cisalpine Gaul (that means ‘Gaul this side of the Alps’) sufficiently to make the city officially part of its Italian territories. In his reorganisation of Italy in 15 B.C., emperor Augustus made Milan the capital of Transpadania region, including the towns of Como, Bergamo, Pavia and Lodi and extending as far west as Turin. Due to its strategic position (it was placed between the Italian peninsula and those areas beyond the Alps where Roman interests were widespread) the name changed into Roma Secunda. From 292 A.D. Mediolanum became the effective capital of the western emperor. It was a very important center for the consolidation of the new Christian religion. Some Milanese churches (like San Lorenzo, Sant’Ambrogio and Sant’Eustorgio) have early Christian origins.
After 313 A.D., the year of the Edict of Tolerance towards Christianity issued by Constantine the Great, many churches were built and the first bishop, St Ambrose, was appointed: Ambrogio was such an influential person that the church became the Ambrosian Church (7 December is a holiday to honour Sant’Ambrogio, the Milan’s patron). Although Milan became less important as the Roman Empire declined. The city suffered the invasion of Lombards who first sacked (539 A.D.) and then conqueered it in 569 A.D. . The capital of the Roman–Barbaric kingdom of the Longobards (569-774 – from whom the region Lombardy takes its name) was instead Pavia. Milan’s rebirth just began with Carolingian rule in the 8th century.
The bishops used the Lombard influence to built an alliance with the emperor Ottone of Saxony (who was the crowned king of Italy in the church of Sant’Ambrogio) and got even more powerful. The Church was given precedence over the landed nobilty, whose power was consequently reduced and, allied with the ‘cives’ (city–dwelling merchants or tradesmen), the clergy became the effective rulers of Lombardy’s increasingly wealthy cities from around the start of the new millennium. At the beginning of the year 1000 the archbishop of Milan became the most powerful person in Northern Italy. In 1117 Milan became a municipality after a series of political difficulties and it acquitted itself of the archbishop. Milan also expanded by declaring war to other cities of the area. During this period the city was governed by democratic laws and built the Palazzo della Ragione as a seat fo its political self–rule.
After that Frederick I of Swabia (named Frederick Barbarossa) tried many times to conquer the city, in 1167 the ‘Comuni’ (towns run by the people) banded together in the Societas Lombardiae (Lombard League) and in 1176 Barbarossa was defeated definetively during the famous Battle of Legnano (Battle royale) which is also the subject of the eponymous opera by Giuseppe Verdi.
Beginning in 1200 Milan’s importance increased intensively and finally became a “Seigneury” (feudalism). The city considerably changed mainly in its appearance; some examples were the extension of the city walls, the construction of new buildings and the development of new paved streets.
The period of democratic governement came to an end when power was sized by the old Milanese Visconti family who were to be ‘lords’ of Milan from 1277 to 1447; the comune system was over and Milan, like so many other northern Italian cities, was going the way of one-family rule. From 1300 the Visconti brought a period of glory and wealth to the city and, within the space of a generation, the surrounding cities all acknowledged their rule, Bergamo and Novara in 1332, Cremona in 1334, Como and Lodi in 1335, Piacenza in 1336 and Brescia in 1337. It was under their rule that began the construction of the Duomo in 1386 (that then became the symbol of the city) and of the Castle Porta Giovia (then destroyed y rebuilt by Francesco Sforza and still nowadays known as Sforza Castle).
When the last Visconti duke Filippo Maria died in 1447 there were three brief years of republican rule then, in 1450 Francesco Sforza, his son-in-law, assumed the Castle and the power of the Visconti family and Milan finally got peace after many years of war against Venice and Florence. The Sforza family’s rule coincided with the Renaissance period in Italy and expecially Francesco’s rule was magnificent; he transformed the city into a powerful metropolis, building among other things the Castello Sforzesco and the Ospedale Maggiore (now Ca’ Granda). It was during these years that the Castle and the Duomo were being built along with the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Under the Sforza duchy the city began its development. Ludovico il Moro (Ludovico Sforza) was the dominant figure; he proved a good ruler encouraging agricultural development and the silk industry, he called architects like Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci to his court, making the city one of Italy’s great centres of art and culture.
In the early 16th century (the last years of Sforza rule) northern Italy was one of the territories contested by the Spanish and the French monarchies. Lombardy enjoyed a 14–year semblance of autonomy after France’s King Francis I was defeated at Pavia in 1525. Francesco Sforza ruled under the tutelage of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (a Habsburg and King Charles I of Spain), but when Francesco died in 1535, Charles assumed direct power so began 170 years of Spanish domination which transformed the once-proud independent Duchy of Milan in the neglected capital of a province administered, guarded and taxed by foreigners. This is the humiliated Milan described in the Manzoni’s novel “I promessi sposi”. It was a time of no development and the city was also oppressed by the scourge of plague in 1630. Fortunately in the second half of the 17th century Milan’s religious and cultural life was given fresh vigour thanks to the initiatives of Borromeo family, especially Carlo and Federico. Then, the great European wars of the early 18th century assured the Austrian domination of the city, which completely changed in all society fields (economic, public, cultural, artistic, administrative, scientific) thanks to the improvement given by the Habsburg dynasty. The Accademia di Brera was founded in this period; the theatre La Scala (where Giuseppe Verdi had his debut) was built in 1778, together with other neoclassical buildings and the Arco della Pace (1807).
It was thanks to this climate of enlightenment that Napoleon was received so enthusiastically by the Milanese when he marched into the city in May 1796, many optmist at that time saw him as the symbol of the democratic reform spirit. After Napoleon fall in 1814, the Congress of Vienna restored Lombardy to Austria, but Austrians were no longer enlightened reformers and the Milanese remained largely hostile to Austrian rule; hostility that found a musical outlet in some of Verdi’s early operas and that finally exploded in the heroic Cinque Giornate of 1848 (five days of street fighting). However , owing to the military incopetence of Carlo Emanuele of Piedmont, the uprising failed and the Austrian forces re-entered the city which was placed under their commander-in-chief Count Joseph Radetzky’s control.
It was just in 1859 that the Austrians were run out of the city and Milan was annexed to the Kingdom of Piedmont which became the Kingdom of Italy two years later. The liberation passed through the pressure of combined military intervention by the French and the Piedmontese and the decisive action of Risorgimento hero Giuseppe Garibaldi and his guerrilla troops. Since the seat of governement had to be Rome, from this time on Milan was chosen as the economical and cultural capital of Italy. To celebrate its new free status a great number of grandiose building projects were undertaken, for example the construction of the great Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the San Vittore prison, the Cimitero Monumentale and the San Gottardo tunnel.
The fascist party was founded in Milan in 1919 encouraged by the tumultuous climate created by numerous strikes supporting socialism grew. The population did not try to resist the dictatorship, except some industrial workers and intellectuals. But it was in this period that pompous works and examples of innovative architecture were built; the Central Station and the Triennale are two of them.
During the war Milan was destroyed. At the end of World War II Lombardy was instrumental in the boom that transformed Italy from a relatively backward, agricultural country to an industrial world leader. The city became a major financial centre and the region’s new–found wealth attracted myriad workers from the south of Italy in a wave of immigration. It is nowadays the major center for commerce, finance, publishing and recently media, design and fashion.

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Los comienzos
La ciudad de Milán fue fundada hacia el año 400 a.C. por los galos Insubros, una tribu celta que habitaba el norte del río Po.
En el 196 a.C. fue ocupada por los romanos que la denominaron Mediolanun por su estratégica posición geográfica, en medio de importantes rutas comerciales y bien situada para luchar contra la amenaza germánica.
Desde ella Roma ejerció el control sobre la Galia Cisalpina. El emperador Augusto la hizo capital de la región de Transpadania.
Hacia el siglo III se convirtió en la capital de la diócesis de la Italia anonaria (la que pagaba impuestos) y la capital pasó de Roma a Milán para reforzar la zona norte amenazada por los bárbaros del Danubio y los Alpes. La misma presión de los bárbaros hizo que Honorio III llevase la capital a Rávena en perjuicio de Milán.
En el 313 se promulgó el Edicto de Milán, por el que el emperador Constantino el Grande legalizó el cristianismo. En el año 374 fue nombrado Obispo de Milán San Ambrosio, uno de los padres de la Iglesia y patrón de la ciudad. Durante su arzobispado y por breve tiempo Milán se convirtió en capital del Imperio Romano de Occidente.
En el año 452 fue saqueada por los Hunos.
De la Alta Edad Media al Milanesado
En el 493 los ostrogodos mandados por Teodorico dominaron Italia, bajo la soberanía teórica de Constantinopla (actual Estambul). Milán pasó a una posición secundaria siendo eclipsada por Pavía, la nueva capital de la Lombardía.
En el 539 fue saqueada por los ostrogodos y conquistada en el año 569, dominando Milán hasta la llegada de Carlomagno.
Durante el imperio carolingio, del 774 al 962, los árabes controlaron el Mediterráneo y Milán se benefició del crecimiento del comercio entre oriente y occidente a través del Adriático. Milán volvió a ser de nuevo la capital de Italia.
La época de la Italia imperial, del 962 al 1266, que se inició con la llegada al poder del germánico Otón I, se caracterizó por la lucha entre el poder civil y el religioso. Hacia el siglo XI, el gobierno pasó del Conde al Arzobispo y con el Obispo Ariberto la iglesia milanesa llegó a gozar del poder más absoluto.
Milán se convirtió, desde Otón I a Napoleón, en lugar de coronación de muchos de los emperadores del Sacro Imperio Romano Germánico, que desearon ceñirse la corona de hierro de los reyes lombardos.
En el siglo XI Milán fue desgarrada por las luchas intestinas entre señores, caballeros y burgueses, los cuales se unieron para aplastar a los “pátaros”, un movimiento popular decepcionado por la renuncia del emperador Enrique III a su política reformista y su acercamiento al alto clero milanés.
La burguesía milanesa que elegía a los cónsules cada año consiguió que éstos, ayudados por el Consejo de la Credenza, se convirtieran en Consejeros del Obispo con la finalidad de prescindir del poder eclesial (finales del s. XII).
En el siglo XII Milán era un gran centro pañero con miles de trabajadores y con una inmensa riqueza. En esa época se fundaron las corporaciones y en 1198 la poderosa “Credenza di Sant´ Ambrogio”.
En 1162 fue arrasada por Federico I Barbarroja que se aprovechó de las luchas internas y de las luchas contra las provincias limítrofes para imponer su soberanía en Milán. Con la ayuda de la Liga Lombarda Milán se reveló contra el emperador y, tras la Paz de Constanza, volvió a recuperar sus privilegios.
Las luchas contra Federico I no paralizaron las luchas intestinas. En el siglo XIII, la familia Torriani, güelfos y amigos de la burguesía, llegan al poder imponiéndose a la familia Visconti, gibelinos y jefes de la aristocracia.
Los Visconti desbancaron a los Torriani cuando Mateo I, capitán del pueblo, se convirtió en vicario imperial (1311). En 1317 se convirtió en señor general de Milán y su poder se extendió por todo el norte de Italia.
Siglos XIV al XVIII. El Milanesado
El Ducado de Milán, también denominado Milanesado, era una región de Milán que adquirió una gran importancia política y económica. Fue la gran potencia del norte de Italia durante la Edad Media.
El dominio de Milán se extendió bajo el gobierno de Juan Galeazzo Visconti (1385) con la anexión de Verona, Vicenza, Padua, Pisa, Perusa y Bolonia.
El Milanesado comienza en 1395 cuando el emperador Wenceslao concedió el título de Duque de Milán a Juan Galezzo Visconti. En 1397 le concedió también el de duque de Lombardía.
Cuando la dinastía Visconti se extingue, en 1447, Milán pasa a ser una República hasta 1450 en que otra saga familiar, los Sforza, sucede a los Visconti. En ese año es proclamado duque de Milán el condotiero Francisco Sforza, casado con una hija del último Visconti.
En 1499 Milán fue conquistada por Luis XII de Francia, hijo del duque de Orleans que era legítimo heredero del ducado. El dominio francés se mantuvo con intermitencias hasta 1529, año en que se produce la renuncia francesa al ducado de Milán y la restitución de nuevo de los Sforza hasta 1535.
En 1535, cuando Francisco II Sforza muere sin herederos, el Milanesado se incorpora al Imperio Español, aunque se suceden varias guerras entre Francia y España por la anexión del ducado. Incorporado definitivamente al Imperio, en 1540 fue cedido por Carlos V como feudo a su hijo Felipe II.
De 1540 a 1713 los reyes de España fueron también Duques del Milanesado. Durante 170 años los españoles dominaron el Ducado y Milán pasó a ser una capital más de provincia.
La riqueza que favoreció la expansión milanesa vino de la irrigación de las tierras del Po, de la apertura del túnel de San Gotardo, del comercio de la lana, de la seda, de la acuñación de monedas de oro y de una potente industria de armas. Milán llegó a tener 100.000 habitantes en el siglo XIV, alcanzando 200.000 a finales del XV.
Milán, capital del ducado del Milanesado, llegó a su esplendor cultural y artístico con Ludovico Moro (1494-1499), y por su corte pasaron Bramante y Leonardo da Vinci.
Otra familia de gran recuerdo en Milán fueron los Borromeo, en particular Federico Borromeo (1564-1631), Arzobispo de Milán y fundador de la Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
En 1713, por el Tratado de Utrecht, España cedió el Milanesado a Austria, aunque intentó recuperarlo veinte años después. Los austriacos iniciaron numerosas reformas que transformaron completamente la ciudad, tras años de descuido español.
En 1797 las tropas napoleónicas entran en Milán, convirtiéndola en ese año en capital de la Republica Cisalpina.
Los siglos XIX y XIX
De 1799 a 1802 el poder pasa otra vez a manos de los Habsburgo, hasta que en 1802 vuelve Napoleón como presidente de la República de Italia y en 1805 se autoproclama primer rey de Italia.
El Congreso de Viena de 1815 restauró de nuevo a los austriacos en el poder y Milán se convirtió en la capital del Reino Lombardovéneto.
Milán fue uno de los principales focos del nacionalismo italiano. En enero de 1848 los milaneses se levantaron contra los austriacos, en la “Jornada de los Cigarros”, y en la batalla de los cinco días, del 18 al 22 de marzo, los expulsaron. Sin embargo, Milán continúo sometida a la monarquía austriaca hasta 1859.
En 1859 los austriacos se fueron de la ciudad y Milán se incorporó al Piamonte. Poco después, al crearse el Reino de Italia, la capital se instaló en Florencia trasladándose luego a Roma, aunque Milán siguió siendo la capital económica del nuevo estado.
Milán en la actualidad
Compras en Milán, Via Montenapoleone
Via Montenapoleone, la más prestigiosa de Milán
Milán fue la cuna del fascismo italiano. El 22 de marzo de 1919 Mussolini fundó en Milán sus primeros fascios de combate que iniciaron la lucha callejera y el acoso a la mayoría socialista de la ciudad, el asalto a periódicos obreros y la represión de los comités de las fábricas.
En 1943 se organizó una huelga general en las fábricas de Milán y se constituyó el Comité de Liberación Nacional que ayudó a caer al régimen fascista.
Tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial Milán recuperó su industria convirtiéndose en un gran centro fabril con una gran población obrera, viviendo en sus calles numerosos conflictos políticos y sociales.
Hoy Milán es una gran ciudad con casi siete millones de habitantes en su área metropolitana. Centro industrial, financiero y comercial de Italia y, junto con París, capital de la moda y del diseño mundial.

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