Visit Monza

The historical city of Monza is home to a host of unique attractions and is an ideal base to explore the Brianza area. It is both industrial and residential and its population is approximately 121,000. Evidence of its origins dates back to Celtic days. However its historic importance evolved during Longobard times when Queen Teodelinda converted the population to Catholicism. The main monument of the town is the splendid Cathedral, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, patron saint of Monza. This beautiful example of Gothic church, which stands in the homonymous square, was built in the 14th century on the site of the previous baptistery ordered by Queen Teodolinda at the end of the 6th century. The facade of the church, made in green and white marble, was extended and finished by Matteo da Campione ( 1396). On the left side of the Basilica is the Bell Tower, 80 metres high, which was erected in 1606 by the architect Ercole Turati. The interior of the Cathedral was transformed into a pure Baroque style during the 17th and 18th centuries. The magnificent rose glass window, made by the Bertini brothers in 1890, can be fully admired against the light. In the central nave, on the left side, the Chancel by Matteo da Campione is one of the oldest part of the church. The altar, superb piece of jewellery decorated by Borghino del Pozzo in the 14th century, bears the scenes of the life of St. John the Baptist on a silver gilt plate, which is one metre high and over two metres wide. On the left side of the presbytery is the so-called Chapel of Queen Teodelinda, frescoed by the Zavattari, distinguished artists belonging to the pictorial current called flowery or international Gothic style (1444). The "Golden Legend" of Teodolinda is represented in a sequence of scenes of rare taste, from her arrival to Italy as the wife of Autari, king of the Longobards, followed by the welcome she received in Verona, then the death and the funerals of Autari and finally her wedding with Agilulfo, new king of the Longobards. However the masterpiece of the frescoes is that representing the miracles – Teodolinda’s vision and the preparation for building the Cathedral, then consecrated in 595 AD. The superb procession of the Emperor Constant II, after his coming to Italy to wage war upon the Longobards, closes the sequence. The Iron Crown (Corona Ferrea) is kept in the same Chapel. An ancient tradition tells that one of the spikes of Christ’s Cross, found by St. Helena and given to his son, the Emperor Constantine, was inserted into the Crown. For centuries the Iron Crown was used to crown kings of Italy illustrious people such as Charlemagne, Otto I, Berengario I, Conrad II, Conrad III, Frederick Redbeard, Henry IV, Charles IV, Charles V, Napoleon and Ferdinand of Hapsburg. The historic and artistic value are both very great. It is made of six golden segments joined together and decorated with big precious stones set in the form of crosses and flowers on a big iron ring - the Holy Spike of Christ’s Cross. From the fine cloister in Baroque style on the left of the church, you can enter the Museum and Treasure of the Cathedral where the famous Treasure is kept.

The Museum, recently renovated, has a rich collection of barbarian antiques dating back to the period between the 4th and the 9th century, noteworthy artefacts of later periods and modern works of art. Particularly worth considering are the Diptych of Stilicone (5th century), which consists of two ivory plaques and the Evangelarium of Teodolinda, in gold with several cameos. The most popular and peculiar pieces of the whole treasure are the so-called "Golden Hen" with its seven chicks, the Cross of Agilulfo (6th century) and the reliquary of the "Tooth of St. John" (8th century). Also worth seeing are the ancient early Christian dress-materials, the marvellous collection of Lombard silverware (16th – 19th centuries), the nine tapestries of the 16th century showing episodes of the life of St. John the Baptist and the millefleurs tapestries. The visit of the museum ends with the Baroque paintings and jewellery, examples of decorative cycles of the 18th century, neo-classical evidences and contemporary works like The Crucifixion by the contemporary artist Lucio Fontana. As you enter the city centre you will see the Arengario, the ancient Town Hall built in 1293. On the southern side you can see a massive balcony (called the "parlera") used for the speeches to the people. Back to the 14th century dates the church of Santa Maria in Strada. Its rich facade, in Gothic-Lombard style, is made in red baked clay. On the front, particularly worth seeing is the magnificent Gothic statue, of French school, of theVirgin Mary and the Child.

Tourist Information - Pro Monza
(from Monday to Sunday 9.00am-1.00pm/2.30pm-6.00pm)
tel. +39.039 323222  pro.monza@tiscali.it iatmonza@gmail.com