The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore is located in Corso di Porta Ticinese and is one of the world’s most important churches for the history of westerly architecture. The basilica was built between late 4th century and early 5th century in a zone that was central during the Roman Age, just outside the walls and on the way to Pavia, nearby the circus and the amphitheatre (much of its building material was recovered and used for the church’s construction); the basilica was not an Arian church, on the contrary it was a palatine basilica, situated next to the imperial palaces.
The Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore was restored in 1573 by Martino Bassi after the collapse of part of the structure; during the same restoration Milan’s largest dome was built and it was completed in 1619. In 1894 Cesare Nava re-designed the façade of the church. The basilica is made of a central body topped by a dome, surrounded by smaller buildings laid with a sunburst pattern and built in different ages. The bare stone walls, the perforated windows, the exedras and the ambulatory are early-Christian features.
The basilica houses many ancient masterpieces: the atrium of the chapel of Sant’Aquilino shows traces of mosaics dating back to the 4th century that in the past covered it entirely, the Cittadini chapel shows a fresco dating back to late 14th century “Madonna col bambino e Santi”, the chapel of San Sisto is mostly early-Christian. The chapel of Sant’Aquilino is part of the historical complex that still shows its original structure; the chapel is also the entrance of the basement of the basilica, where you’ll see the foundations made of stone blocks recovered from other imperial buildings.