Last saturday of february, rainy and windy….we took a train to Milan for another day in the city. We arrived at the Centrale railway station under a heavy rain….
Milano Centrale is the main railway station in Milan, and one of the main railway stations in Europe. The station is a railway terminus and was officially inaugurated in 1931 to replace the old central station (1864), which was a transit station and could not handle the new traffic caused by the opening of the Simplon tunnel in 1906. It is served by high speed lines and conventional railways.
The first Milano Centrale station opened in 1864 in the area now occupied by the Piazza della Repubblica. It was designed by French architect Louis-Jules Bouchot (1817–1907) and its architectural style was reminiscent of Parisian buildings of that period. The station was designed to replace Porta Tosa station and Porta Nuova station and was interconnected with all lines, either existing or under construction, surrounding Milan. It remained in operation until 30 June 1931, when the current station was opened. There is now no trace of the old station left. King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy laid the cornerstone of the new station on April 28, 1906, before a blueprint for the station had even been chosen. The last, real, contest for its construction was won in 1912 by architect Ulisse Stacchini, whose design was modeled after Union Station in Washington, DC, and the construction of the new station began. Due to the Italian economic crisis during World War I, construction proceeded very slowly, and the project, rather simple at the beginning, kept changing and became more and more complex and majestic. This happened especially when Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister, and wanted the station to represent the power of the fascist regime. The major changes were the new platform types and the introduction of the great steel canopies by Alberto Fava; 341 m (1,119 ft) long and covering an area of 66,500 square metres.
Construction resumed in earnest in 1925 and on July 1, 1931 the station was officially opened in the presence of Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano. Its façade is 200 metres wide and its vault is 72 metres high, a record when it was built. It has 24 platforms. Each day about 330,000 passengers use the station, totaling about 120 million per year.
The station has no definite architectural style, but is a blend of many different styles, especially Liberty and Art Deco, but not limited to those. It is adorned with numerous sculptures. “The ‘incongruous envelope of stone’ (Attilio Pracchi) of this gigantic and monumental building dominates Piazza Duca d’Aosta.” On September 25, 2006, officials announced a € 100 million project, already in progress, to refurbish the station. Of the total cost, € 20 million has been allocated to restore “certain areas of high artistic value” while the remaining € 80 million will be used for more general improvements to the station to make it more functional with the current railway services. The project includes moving the ticket office and installing new elevators and escalators for increased accessibility.
Off the train and on the subway to Piazza del Duomo….I’ve already posted about the stunning Milan Cathedral here, if you’ve missed it.
Looking over the main square in Milan, there’s also the Galleria, simply as that as the MIlanese called it, its full name being Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Read more about it here.
We did a little shopping under its arches and we had a nice coffee break.
We tried to get lunch at our usual place, a nice self-service restaurant overlooking the spires of the Cathedral, but it was so crowded we gave up….
Instead we choose a cozy and traditional restaurant just behind the square, and I’m glad we did….
After lunch it was time for the very reason we went there, the Mucha exhibition held at the Royal Palace, on the right of the Cathedral….
The one above is the piece my daughter likes the most, in fact she has a copy in her bedroom, see below….
For the ones who purchased a guided tours at specific times (as we did) there were free tickets for another exhibition about the history of bijou. We enjoyed it as well, many pieces were not new to me, having seen them already in another contest.
It was a very interesting visit indeed….we had just the time for a quick tea break at the Palace bistrò, before catching the train back home…
Till next time Milan…..au revoir….