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Rotonda della Besana, Milan

2.7
#62 of 258 in Sightseeing in Milan
Architectural Building Tourist Spot
The Rotonda della Besana is a late baroque building complex and former cemetery in Milan, Italy, built between 1695 and 1732 and located close to the city center. The complex comprises a lobate hectagonal colonnade portico enclosing a garden and the deconsacrated church of San Michele ai Sepolcri . The portico was designed by architects Francesco Croce and Carlo Raffaello Raffagno, while the church was designed by Attilio Arrigoni. Although originally a cemetery, over time the Rotonda has been adapted for a number of other uses; today, it is a leisure area and a venue for cultural events.The complex covers an overall area of 7,100 m² and owes its current name to its location, at number 15 of Via Enrico Besana.HistoryThe building was originally established to serve as a foppone for the Ospedale Maggiore, and hosted about 150,000 burials, placed in a complex system of underground catacombs . In 1787, under Austrian rule, cemeteries were moved outside the city walls, and the Rotonda cemetery was thus dismissed. Under Napoleonic rule, plans were made to redesign the Rotonda into a famedio along the lines of the Panthéon in Paris, but these plans were later dismissed. The Rotonda was thus adapted for a number of other uses, including as a stable and a barn. In the 19th century it was returned to the Ospedale Maggiore, which used it as a cronicario and a laundry building. The Ospedale eventually donated the structure to the Comune di Milano, in 1939. The Comune restored the complex and adapted it to serve as a green area and as a venue for cultural and social events.
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112 reviews
Google
5.0
  • Apart from being an architecturally interesting place, this is where they used to quarantine people inflicted with the Black Death (the Plague) in the 14th century!! Now it's a park with a restaurant/...  more »
  • We had stopped inside the old cemetery walls for a rest after a previous foray into the duomo area and thought it was some kind of children's area. It has a great space within the walls for football e...  more »
  • Originally a cemetery, over time the Rotonda has been adapted for a number of other uses and today it is more like a small park and leisure area.  more »
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Where to stay in Milan

For a quintessential Milanese experience, stay in the bustling heart of the old town. This area offers easy foot access to most of Milan's main sites, as well as some of the city's finest restaurants, shops, and theaters. The central area is also quite crowded, and comfortable rooms in good hotels can be very expensive. Visitors traveling on a budget can choose from a range of top-notch B&Bs and family-operated hostels, which offer private parking and access to private outdoor space, minutes from Milan's main attractions.
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