Santa Maria delle Grazie

The Zenale Parking is just around the corner of the famous church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace), that hosts the Cenacle in the refectory of the convent. It is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the Cenacle fresco by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is a basilica and a sanctuary, located in Milan and
belonging to the Dominican Order and part of the San Vittore al Corpo parish.

The architecture of the tribune, built between 1492 and 1493 at the behest of the Duke of Milan Ludovico il Moro as mausoleum for his family, is one of the highest creations of Northern Italian Renaissance.

In the refectory we can find Pietro Maschera’s hall, rectangular, with a very detailed cover composed by a “clawed” barrel vault which ends with “umbrella” vaults. On the inside it was entirely decorated with frescoes on the walls and on the vault.
After the fall of the vault and the municipal walls, only the two ending walls with the Last Supper on the right and the Donato Montorfano’s Crucifixion on the left remain.
The two paintings were often a popular theme of decoration for convent refectories.

The church’s architecture is composed by naves nestled in the shadows, that then were illuminated by Bramante with a monumental tribune located at the arms intersection, covered by an hemispheric dome. He also added two wide apses on the sides and a third one, beyond the choir, in line with the aisles.

The neat rhythm of the spaces is reflected on the outside too, in a joint of volumes
that culminates in the lantern that masks the dome, with a loggia that evokes early Christian and Lombard Romanesque architectures. The decoration of the three aisles is perfectly preserved. It completely covers the vaults and the walls, and it was realised immediately after the finalisation of the church.

The vivid-coloured geometric patterns, the flames and the radial motifs are proof of a late gothic taste, still widespread. The rounded decorations have instead a Renaissance signature. They are represented in the lunettes of the central nave, as to depict the saints within a faux foreshorten architecture, assigned to Butinone, Zenale and Montorfano. Butinone has also realised the exquisite dominican Saints portrayed full-length in the minor aisles, among the chapels.

In the small cloister nex to the tribune, on the door that leads to the sacristy, there is a fresque executed by Bramantino.