San Nazaro Maggiore is interesting for the artworks conserved inside, and for its history. It is a church well worth visiting. It was founded between 382 and 386 A.D. by bishop Ambrose, who later became Milano’s patron saint. Its very early origins make it an important example of Palaeochristian art in Milano.
Over the course of the years, it has undergone many modifications. Today, it comprises artistic treasures from different ages. The interior is now based on contrasts between the white of the new plaster, the brick-red vaulting ribs, and the grey of some original Palaeochristian masonry that has been left exposed. The building has the cruciform floor plan typical of Palaeochristian architecture. Inside, Romanesque and Renaissance features can easily be distinguished.
In 397 A.D., the body of Nazaro was found, and this gave rise to the construction of a new apse in order to create a chapel for the Saint’s tomb. It is clad with marble donated by the niece of emperor Theodosius I, Serena, who also decorated the rest of the church.
The work began on the Cappella Trivulzio in 1512; it was the only architectural work documented by Bramantino in Milano.
Founded as the family mausoleum for Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, marshal to Louis XII, the King of France, it is set against the early Christian facade almost like a vestibule to the church. The octagonal chapel has niches containing sarcophagi with the recumbent statues of the Trivulzio family and is covered by a faceted dome constructed within the square lantern.