Santa Maria Delle Grazie (The Last Supper)
Santa Maria Delle Grazie is best known for housing one of the most important works of art in history, Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. This cavernous church is one of the most revered cultural sites in Italy, as recognized by its identification as a World Heritage Site. The Last Supper is housed in the church refectory.
The 15th-century painting draws visitors from around the world. Many are surprised by its large size: 180 inches by 350 inches (460 centimeters by 880 centimeters). When the church was bombed during World War II, the mural narrowly escaped unscathed, thanks to sandbags used to protect it. The church and convent are remarkable examples of Renaissance architecture.
Purchase tickets in advance to see The Last Supper via the official website or through a travel agent. Arrive just before your allocated time to make sure you don’t miss the tour, since they are generally very punctual. Move with your small group as you are led beyond the glass doors that protect the painting. Tours are conducted in Italian; however, headsets provide translated information and are a great way to understand the symbolism of the famous painting. Tours last 15 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to study the mural as you pass through the refectory.
Move into the church itself to see the beautiful architecture and exquisite designs that adorn its walls and roof. The arched ceiling of the Gothic nave features intricate patterns, while the chapel houses frescos by Gaudenzio Ferrari. Sit on the pews to take in the enormity of the church. In summer the church is a great place to escape the sun, as its dark interior remains cool year-round.
The Santa Maria delle Grazie is open daily and admission to the church is free. A fee applies to see The Last Supper. The church is located in central Milan and a tram stop is just outside. Visitors arriving by car will find street parking in the area.