Chiesa di Santa Maria presso San Satiro (Church of Saint Mary near Saint Satyrus), Milan

Chiesa di Santa Maria presso San Satiro (Church of Saint Mary near Saint Satyrus), Milan

Located near the Duomo, at the beginning of Via Torino, the shopping street, lies one of Milan's hidden gems: the Church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro, with its optically illusional, false apse – an early example of trompe-l'œil, attributed to Donato Bramante.

Founded by Archbishop Ansperto in the 9th century, the church is dedicated to San Satiro, the brother of St. Ambrose (Milan's patron saint), and was built in the second half of the 15th century to house a miraculous icon: a votive painting of the Madonna and Child.

Due to limited space for building the church, architect Donato Bramante had to devise an illusionistic solution to give the visitor the impression that the apse, which houses the image of the Madonna, is 9.70 meters deep, covered by a barrel vault with coffering. In reality, the apse occupies only 97 cm of depth: a painted stucco fake choir creates an optical illusion that is revealed only by standing to the side of the altar.

Though architectural optical illusion was popular in the late Renaissance and Baroque, Bramante gave it an entirely new dimension, with special lighting inside the church was used to help create the desired effect.

Why You Should Visit:
There aren't many places like this in Milan: small, half-hidden, and ready to reveal themselves only to those who know how to discover them.
Entry is free and photos are allowed, so you can easily have a look at the views of its interior. The perspective effect at the end is simply stunning.

Tip:
One of the most beautiful views of the church from the outside is the back, between via Falcone and via Speronari: the chapel of San Satiro, older than the main church and detached from it, is a masterpiece of decorations in terracotta and turrets.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-12pm / 2:30-6pm; Sun: 2-5:30pm

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Milan. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Chiesa di Santa Maria presso San Satiro (Church of Saint Mary near Saint Satyrus) on Map

Sight Name: Chiesa di Santa Maria presso San Satiro (Church of Saint Mary near Saint Satyrus)
Sight Location: Milan, Italy (See walking tours in Milan)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Milan, Italy

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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