The Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio is one of the most important churches of Milan because of its architecture and because it houses many important artworks. There are many different versions about its building because unfortunately there are very poor records. According to one of the current versions, the church was built between 315 and 331 on the commission of bishop Eustorgio, who decided to be buried there and wanted to provide the Magi’s relics, donated by emperor Constans, with a safe place. Another version states that the church could be the Basilica Portiana, frequently mentioned by Saint Ambrogio.
The oldest documents date back to the 12th century, and we know for sure that it was completely rebuilt during the 11th century, with a Romanesque look with a French influence. In 1162 the Basilica was sacked by Federico Barbarossa who stole the Magi’s relics and took them to Cologne. In 1190 the church was rebuilt and looked the way we see it today. The Romanesque façade was designed by Giovanni Brocca (1862-1865), who restored the windows and the gates. The current church has still typical Romanesque features, such the three naves with enormous pillars, slightly sloping outwards in order to make the church look larger. The interior if the Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio, has a very simple and neat look, and houses some masterpieces. On the left side of the nave there are some chapels: in the first chapel there’s a triptych “Madonna tra i santi Giacomo ed Enrico” by Bergognone; in the third chapel there’s the sarcophaguses of Stefano Visconti and Protaso Caimi, whose sarcophagus was made in 1360 by a Campionese craftsman; in the seventh chapel, named Torriani Chapel, there’s a fresco cycle.
In the right transept there’s a painting depicting the Epiphany by Bernardino Luini. On top of the bell tower there’s an eight-pointed star marking the presence of the Magi’s relics, which were partly returned to the Basilica in early 20th century. You can access the museum from the southern side of the cloister: there’s an early-Christian necropolis and the former chapter room of the ancient Dominican convent. Then there’s the sacristy, the Solariane chapels and the Portinari chapel. One of Milan’s most ancient traditions is the Magi’s cortège held every Epiphany. The procession starts from Piazza del Duomo and finishes at the Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio.