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The stool and the lion: symbols of Milan

Last updated on November 8, 2017

Why is there a stool on the official coat of arms of Milan? And why there is also a lion, which is usually cosidered as the main symbol of Venice? Here below the history of the coat of arms of the city.

Those who have been to the city of Milan know how relevant for the history of the city is the Madonnina, the golden statue of the Virgin standing proudly on the highest spire of the Duomo cathedral. The Madonnina is widely considered as one of the three symbols of the city.

The Madonnina is now a landamark of the city due to the affection of the Milanese people but the official symbol of Milan is actually its coat of arms  which is clearly described by a law decree that dates back to 1934.

“The coat of arms of the City of Milan is described as follows: a red cross on a white background, crowned by a golden crown (an open circle of eight open pusterle*) and surrounded on all sides, in the lower part, by green leaves of laurel and oak knotted with a tricolor ribbon”

*the Pusterla is a small door used to enter the medieval walls that surrounded the city of Milan

The description of the coat of arms then continues with the details of what is depicted around the crest of the city.

The city of Milan in fact features six porte (doorways/gates) that during the Middle Ages where the main accesses to the city. Each of these doors  consequently identify the neighbourhoods around them that had their own coat of arms. This is the reason why around the official coat of arms of Milan there are six other smaller shields or crests: each one of them represents a particular neighbourhood.

  • An all red shield is the symbol of Porta Romana
  • A half white and half red shield is the symbol of Porta Vercellina
  • A black and white shield, divided into four smaller portions is the symbol of Porta Nuova
  • A red and white checkered shield is the symbol of Porta Garibaldi

The two coat of arms that really differ from the previously described are the ones of Porta Venezia, named after the lagoon city, and of Porta Ticinese.

An imperious black lion, the Porta Venezia’s shield, clearly recalls the symbol of Venice while a wooden stool is the official symbol of the district of Porta Ticinese, nearby the Navigli canals.



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