Cimitero Monumentale: An Open-Air Art Museum

Famedio - Cimitero Monumentale

Exploring cemeteries in Europe can be a fascinating way to see the history and the people who were a part of it. It is also a great place where you can see amazing works of art that rival any art museum in the world. The Cimitero Monumentale or Monumental Cemetery has an abundance of artistic tombs and mausoleums that makes it one of the two largest cemeteries in Milan.

History of Cimitero MonumentaleMausoleum and Sculptures in Cimitero Monumentale

The cemetery is a massive 62 acres that are free for you to explore. Cimitero Monumentale was designed to consolidate all the smaller cemeteries around the city of Milan. Opened in 1866, the cemetery is separated into three sections: there are Catholic, non-Catholic, and Jewish sections. Each family plot and mausoleum has beautiful Italian sculptures, with each one evoking emotions. You can find the cemetery at Piazzale Cimitero Monumenatale, 20154 Milano, in Milan. If you are visiting Milan, the cemetery is a 30-minute walk from the Duomo. Cimitero Monumentale’s open hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. all year long. It is closed on Mondays.Sculptures on Graves in Cimitero MonumentaleGraves and Mausoleums in Cimitero Monumentale

FamedioSide view of Famedio - Cimitero Monumentale

The main building at the Monumental Cemetery is the Famedio, which is 820 feet of white and black striped exterior design. Within the Famedio, there are halls made of marble and stone that contains the tombs of some of Milan’s and Italy’s most honored citizens. I saved walking through the halls until after I finished walking the grounds. The monuments inside are just as artistically decorated like the ones in the central portion of the cemetery. And the main area with the blue-domed ceiling, the Hall of Fame, is spectacular.Hall of crypts in FamedioMausoleum in the FamedioInside the FamedioHall of Above Ground cryptsHall of statues in Famedio - main building of Monumental Cemetery

Family TombsFamily Mausoleums in the Famedio

Many affluent families purchase tombs and mausoleums for the final resting place of their family members. The more influential the family seems to have a direct correlation to how extravagant their monuments are. You can see angels, putti, sphinx, among many other sculptures, which makes it fun to see how the artists top one another on their designs. The influential families can be found along the Famedio or the larger mausoleums within the cemetery.Morgagni family monumentConti Family MausoleumMausoleum with Stained GlassFamiglia Croci MausoleumYellow Stone Mausoleum

Castiglioni Family Monument

Bernocchi MausoleumBernocchi Mausoleum

One of the most exciting and more significant monuments is the Bernocchi Mausoleum. This enormous white marble baldachin decorated with statues of mourning women at the foot of a crucified Jesus is eye-catching. You can spend some time walking around this memorial, looking at each section, and how intricate the statues are supporting the weight of the ones above.Top of Bernocchi MausoleumMan crushed under the weight on the Bernocchi MausoleumClose-up of the statues on the Bernocchi Mausoleum

Italian SculpturesChild going to Heaven with an Angel

Wow! is all I can say about this cemetery. There are so many beautiful statues that my camera didn’t stop capturing photos once. Even when the clouds opened up, and I had to hide under huge evergreens to keep my camera from getting wet, I was still taking pictures. The statues with the children were the ones that evoked the most emotion. Each statue I saw told the story of how the family member left behind felt about their loved one. I have so many that I have uploaded them to SmugMug for you to see them anytime.Wall of StatuesGirl looking up at parents

BustsMan and Wife busts

Besides the Italian sculptures, the busts were the next pieces of art that were fascinating. The details on them give you a great impression of the time. Plus, I loved seeing the crazy mustaches on all the men. Some even had the twirling on the ends. Bust of a Mustache ManMan wearing military outfitMan with cap and mustache bustHead bust in niche with orchids

SummarySeveral statues on a mausoleum

The Cimitero Monumentale is a cemetery that you don’t need to take a map to help you through. I would just set down one aisle until the end and then go to the next one. Unless you see something that catches your eye, which is what happens to me more times than I can count. There are so many amazingly decorated tombs and mausoleums that make this cemetery a must-see destination on your trip to Milan. If you have never stopped in an older cemetery and spend some time wandering through the gravestones, you don’t know what you are missing.Mausoleums in Monumental Cemetery

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Italy for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:

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