Did you know that because of the Sant'Eustorgio Basilica Milano is also known as the city of the Three Kings? The ancient church complex is situated in Corso di Porta Ticinese, near the Darsena docklands and the Navigli area.
Sant'Eustorgio is one of the oldest churches in Milano: it was founded in the 4th century and rebuilt in the 19th century. In once housed the relics of the Three Kings, which were stolen when Milano was sacked by the German Emperor Fridrick I, and subsequently taken to Cologne as spoils. Nowadays, some of the relics are again on display in the niche above the altar for the worship of the faithful: they were brought back to the city in 1903 following an agreement between the two cities. The procession of the Three Kings on the Feast of the Epiphany is a popular centuries-old tradition celebrated in Milano. It starts from Piazza del Duomo and ends at the church of Sant'Eustorgio.
The Basilica is an important focus point for the city’s faithful as legend has it that, when St. Barnabas brought Christianity to Milano, he preached and baptized the first Christians right in this area. Over the centuries, the church became a thriving hub for Milanese Christianity, as it was the seat of the Dominican order that had preaching the Gospel as its main mission. The basilica's large-scale structure accommodates huge congregations, thus enabling preachers to reach a large number of the faithful.
Make sure you do not leave without visiting the Portinari Chapel: commissioned by the Florentine nobleman Pigello Portinari, its construction started in 1462 and bears testimony to the presence of Florentine art in Milano at that time. The upper parts of the interior walls were frescoed by the Lombard artist Vincenzo Foppa between 1466 and 1468.
The wonderful late-Gothic tomb in the chapel was built by the Pisan architect and sculptor Giovanni di Balduccio between 1335 and 1339. The sarcophagus houses the remains of Pietro Rosini, known as San Pietro Martire. The Venetian prior, martyred in 1252, was slayed in the thicket by two killers, near Como. His hagiography recounts that he barely had time to inscribe the words "I believe" in the dust with his own blood before he perished.
The Diocesan Museum is located in Sant'Eustorgio’s ancient cloisters: it houses an impressive collection of artworks that span several centuries and it hosts an annual programme of fascinating temporary exhibitions.
The bell tower of Sant'Eustorgio, commenced in 1297, is the tallest in Milano and, since 1305, displays the oldest public clock in Italy. Unusually, the bell tower does not have a cross on its top but an eight-pointed star, to point at the presence of the remains of the Three Kings, who followed the star to the stable where Jesus was born.