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The Madonnina: one of the three symbols of Milan

The city of Milan have had three different symbols during its history. One per each era.

  • The beginning
  • The Middle Ages
  • The modern era

The beginning

The city of Milan has a millenial history. Founded by the Celts who, according to a legend, decided to build a new town where they saw a pig just for a half covered in hair. It was the scrofa semilanuta and that particular wild animal became the symbol of the city. It remained as a landamrk of Milan till the Middle Ages when it was replaced by the embleme of the Sforza Family. A bas-relief of the scrofa can still be seen engraved in Piazza Mercanti.

The Middle Ages

During the medieval era different families and dinasties tried to take control of the city of Milan. The one that succeed in 1477 was the Sforza family. The mercenary Francesco Sforza defeated the Della Torre heirs and took power over Milan and its nearby territories. That’s when his own embleme, a dragon eating a child, became popular and consequently the symbol of the city.

The modern era

During the middle ages begun the construction of the Duomo cathedral. In 1386 the construction officially started and ended in 1932 (that’s right…600 years!). Thousands of statues and gargoyles adorn the exterior of the cathedral. But only one of them shines bright on top of the highest spire. It is the Madonnina, a golden statue that represents the Virgin. From the modern era and on the Madonnina is widely recognized to be the official symbol of Milan. The 4.16 meters high statue was designed by sculptor Giuseppe Perego and officially inaugurated on the 30th of December 1774.

The city’s tradition imposes that no building can be higher than the Madonnina that stands proudly at 108.50 meters. For this reason a copy of the statue has been installed on top of the highest skyscrapers n town: the Pirelli building, the Isozaky tower and the Palazzo Lombardia, headquarter of the Lombardy region.

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One Comment

  1. […] described and even though it has been dismissed by most of the scholars the wild boar has been the symbol of the city for centuries. A bas relief reproducing this animal can still be seen on the walls of the Palazzo […]

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