Complesso Orsoline di San Carlo


Via Lanzone, 53, 20123 Milano



Monumental complex Istituto Orsoline di San Carlo, San Michele Church and cloister

Once the location of other monastic orders, the complex was build next to the Naviglio channel (now via de Amicis),  an important waterway for the transport of goods and of the supply coming from the fields of the Lombardy Region.

At the time it was situated next to one of the ancient Medieval gates of Milan.

Inside the building, at the end of the 15th century (or beginning of 16th century), a part of the portico was built, according to the architectural guidelines of Bramante, who was working in Milan.

Since 1844 it has been the headquarter of Istituto Orsoline di San Carlo, whose nuns has preserved many artistic finds.

The ancient Church, dedicated to San Michele sul Dosso, is the heart of the Institute. Its origin, probably Lombardic, is not clear. It architectural style dates back to the 15th century.

Apparently, the church was an idea of Saint Ambrose, King Theodoric spent there the night before his coronation and the Iron Crown was kept in this building.

Among the treasures, a copy of the Vergine delle rocce, a popular Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, is kept in the Monastry of  San Michele sul Dosso, that is to say the Vergine delle rocce by Francesco Melzi, who was a great Leonardo’s apprentice. The copy is extraordinarily beautiful and it was commissioned in 1482 by the Confraternita dei Concezionisti to substitute the original painting made by the master, that was unacceptable according to the sacredness standards of the time.

As written in one of his letters, Francesco Petrarca had been living in this complex for 5 years (1353 – 1358)



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