A few steps from the Hotel Karol, the main points of interest in Monza
The Duomo of Monza is located in the heart of the city; inside the Teodolinda Chapel is the precious Corona Ferrea belonging to the Longobards.
The Cathedral with its square was the center of the religious and political life of Monza: around its original nucleus, probably the “oraculum” of Queen Teodolinda of the sixth century, the ancient village was founded. Starting from 1300, it was extended to a basilica plan with side chapels, designed by Matteo da Campione, author also of the solemn wind facade, inspired by Gothic lines. Artists such as Arcimboldo, Legnanino, Borroni and Carloni have embellished the basilica in the following centuries. Pellegrino Tibaldi rebuilt the choir, superimposed to a large crypt, while the collaboration with Ercole Turati is the colossal bell tower built since 1592. To the left of the main altar stands the Chapel of Teodolinda, whose prestigious murals of Zavattari, masterpiece of the international gothic of the mid-fifteenth century, represent devotion and tribute to the queen. The Chapel holds the Iron Crown, which for centuries has been considered a symbol and legend, and the goldsmith’s work among the most important and significant of the whole history of Christianity. An ancient tradition wants in fact that the ring inside the Crown has been made from one of the nails of the Cross of Christ. With the Corona Ferrea, kings and emperors were crowned, including Charlemagne and Napoleon.
The Iron Crown has miraculously been preserved from the Middle Ages to the present day; it is composed of six gold plates – decorated with relief rosettes, gems and enamels cones – bearing a metal circle inside, from which it takes the name of “iron”, which is an ancient tradition, reported by sant ‘Ambrogio at the end of the fourth century, identifies with one of the nails used for the crucifixion of Christ: a relic, then, that St. Helena would have found in 326 during a trip to Palestine and inserted in the diadem of the son, the emperor Constantine. The tradition, which links the Crown to the passion of Christ and the first Christian emperor, explains the symbolic value attributed to it by the kings of Italy (or by the aspirants such as the Visconti), who would have used it in coronations to attest the origin divine of their power and their link with the Roman emperors. Recent scientific investigations suggest that the Crown, as it appears, derives from interventions carried out between the 4th-5th and the 9th centuries, may be a late-ancient royal monument, perhaps an oyster, passed to the Longobard kings and finally received by the sovereigns Carolingi, who would have it restored and donated to the Duomo of Monza. Since then the history of the diadem was inextricably linked to that of the Duomo and the city. In 1354, for example, Pope Innocent VI sanctioned as the undisputed right – even if later disregarded – of the Cathedral of Monza to be able to host the coronations of the kings of Italy, while in 1576 St. Charles Borromeo established the cult of the Sacred Chiodo whether to make official recognition of the diadem as a relic, or to tie it to another Sacred Chiodo, preserved in the Cathedral of Milan, which according to the same ancient tradition St. Helena would have made a bite-shaped for the horse of Constantine, as further metaphor of divine inspiration in the command of the Empire.
By virtue of its sacred value the Corona Ferrea is preserved in a consecrated altar dedicated to it, erected by Luca Beltrami in 1895-96.
Built in the late thirteenth century, the ancient town hall, called Arengario, stands in a position almost contiguous to the Duomo, also visually signifying the religious and civil opposition of power, which even in Monza marked the municipal period. Located in the city center, it was part of a complex whole, which the building events and the restorations have reduced to the municipal building only. Beside it stood, connected by a suspended passage, the Palazzo Pretorio (or the Podestà) today disappeared. On the ground floor, the building has a large arcaded portico, supported by massive stone pillars, a place for meetings and exchanges, and a single large covered wooden truss hall on the first floor for meetings and assemblies. opens with a small balcony to a small loggia (the “parlera”) from which you read the decrees issued by the municipality to the population. The bell tower, built later, on the north side, has the Ghibelline battlement dovetail.The ancient access to the upper room, now used as an exhibition hall for art exhibitions and cultural events, took place along the eastern side through two stairs outside the door whose traces are still visible. Today the entrance is from the north through a staircase in the tower.
The Villa Reale was built between 1777 and 1780 on a project by the imperial royal architect Giuseppe Piermarini at the behest of Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg, Governor General of the Austrian Lombardy and thanks to the conspicuous financing bestowed by his mother, the empress Maria Teresa ‘Austria. The “U” planimetric solution was typical of the eighteenth-century Lombard villas. From the central body two wings of the same height were stretched anteriorly ending with two lower cubic forepart, the Chapel of the Court on the left and the Cavallerizza on the right, to delimit the courtyard of honor. Then there were a large semicircular advocate and two other tangent buildings the body “U” and intended for services, where they later found the Teatrino di Corte, built at the beginning of the nineteenth century by Luigi Canonica, the ancient Serrone (1790) citrus greenhouse and the Rotonda (1790), a connecting element between the service wing and the Serrone. Parallel to the latter, ran the ancient citrus garden (which since 1964 houses the Roseto “Niso Fumagalli”).
After the last difficult years of Austrian rule and with Unity, the villa and the park were donated by the Parliament to King Vittorio Emanuele II (1862). The king, in turn, gave them to his eldest son and hereditary prince Umberto on the occasion of the wedding with his cousin Margherita di Savoia. In 1878 Umberto ascended the throne and made Monza the summer residence of the court.
This and certainly, after the one of the origins, the most significant moment in the building history of the villa. The new guests wanted a radical modernization and redecoration, which followed the neo-rococo style. However, the work was interrupted by the sudden death of the king by the anarchist Gaetano Bresci on 29 July 1900. The personal objects were then withdrawn from the royal house and the villa was closed and forgotten. Later, only a long work could give back, at least in part, the original appearance.
The Gardens of the Villa Reale, whose surface is about 40 hectares, surround the buildings of the complex and constitute a heritage of inestimable landscape, historical, monumental and architectural value. Designed by Piermarini, assisted by gardeners sent by Vienna at the behest of Maria Theresa of Austria, the Gardens took shape from 1778 and were the first in Italy to be designed according to the typological methods of the “English” garden with an alternation of spots of trees and meadows, with the presence of caves, ponds, short waterfalls, an artificial hill and a small Doric temple that is reflected in the waters of a pond. The characteristic that made the Gardens famous in the world is the great variety of ultrasonic trees: the green giants among oaks, cypresses, horse chestnuts, cedars of Lebanon, which for size or botanical characteristics constitute an incomparable collection.
The Rose Garden, located in the advancet of the Villa, was founded in 1964 by the will of the industrialist Niso Fumagalli president of the Italian Rose Association, with the aim of extending the love and passion of the cultivation of this flower. The rose garden, harmonious and funeral with its slightly undulating terrain, the pond and the paths for the public, fits skillfully into the surrounding area. Events and guided tours are organized during the flowering season.